***The Iowa Standard is an independent media voice. We rely on the financial support of our readers to exist. Please consider a one-time sign of support or becoming a monthly supporter at $5, $10/month - whatever you think we're worth! If you’ve ever used the phrase “Fake News” — now YOU can actually DO something about it! You can also support us on PayPal at [email protected] or Venmo at Iowa-Standard-2018 or through the mail at: PO Box 112 Sioux Center, IA 51250

Floor debate dominated most of our time during the thirteenth week of the legislative session. We discussed a number of issues important to Iowans including expanding broadband service in the state, protecting the constitutional rights of Iowans, cutting property taxes, and giving parents more control over their children’s education.

This week the Senate also passed House File 744 regarding the protection of free speech and First Amendment rights at Iowa universities and K-12 schools. It does a number of things, including prohibiting retaliation against a member of the campus community or a member of a school district who files a complaint, requires a disciplinary hearing if a faculty member knowingly and intentionally restricts protected speech, and requires first amendment training for members of the campus community, including students, faculty, and staff. It also directs the board of directors of each school district to establish policies protecting students and staff from discrimination based on speech and triggers a hearing with the Board of Educational Examiners if a school district employee is found to have violated the First Amendment rights of a student. This bill addresses a number of concerns we have heard from students at Iowa schools and universities and protects important First Amendment rights in educational institutions where diverse opinions and thought are supposed to be encouraged. House File 744 now heads to the governor to await her signature.

Happy to report a bill that I have been working on for years is headed to the Governor for her signature. House File 228 allows all students the freedom to open enroll without interference from the local school boards and administrators by repealing school district voluntary diversity plans and disallowing denials of open enrollment based on those plans. The open enrollment law in Iowa should mean open enrollment for all students regardless of their district. This bill gives more choices to parents when it comes to their children’s education. They should be able to send their children to public schools that fit their needs, help them succeed and prepare them to be successful after graduation.

As always, please feel free to contact me about the legislation moving through the capitol, concerns or questions you may have, or the issues most important to you. It is an honor to serve you in the legislature and be your voice on these topics crucial to making our state better.

Author: Brad Zaun