The first three days of the week were filled with subcommittee meetings. The first bill I introduced was filed on Monday: SF 151, which would re-establish a cold case unit within the Division of Criminal Investigation (Department of Public Safety). My bill is a companion to HF 63, sponsored by Rep. Skyler Wheeler. Later in the day, I temporarily served as Education Committee chair while Sen. Amy Sinclair presented a bill.
On Thursday, I cast my first floor vote in the Iowa Senate. Later in the day, I made my first floor speech in favor of Senate Joint Resolution 7. SJR 7 proposes an amendment to the Iowa Constitution which reads, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes this right to be a fundamental individual right. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”
I explained the history of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and why our proposed amendment—to be voted on by Iowans themselves in November 2022 if passed by the legislature—does not include the “militia” language and adds some additional words. The ambiguity of the Second Amendment has allowed liberal judges to ignore its intent and call into question our individual right to keep and bear arms. The “strict scrutiny” language is necessary to rein in such judges, as well as some politicians. The amendment passed the Senate 29-18.
I voted for SF 160, which requires all public and accredited non-public schools to offer full-time in-person instruction to children if their parents request it. Hybrid and online instruction can remain options for those who prefer them. This law will help children in the 16 schools in Iowa which have been unwilling to offer in-school learning since Covid became a problem in March 2020. The bill passed 29-18.
I also voted for SF 159, which is Governor Reynolds’ education reform proposal. I had some concerns about aspects of the bill but supported it overall. It does a wide range of things, including creation of a Student First Scholarship program for children who attend a small number of public schools (34) who are under-performing (the lowest 5% of Title I schools as determined by U.S. Department of Education). This scholarship opportunity will provide money for students—most of whom come from low-income families—to have a way of changing to a different school if so desired (including non-public schools). It also creates a new charter (public) school program within the state, expands the tuition and textbook tax credit for home school families, and increases the tax deduction for out-of-pocket expenses of teachers. The bill passed 26-21.