It has been a long hard two weeks with Supreme Court rulings. I am committed to protecting women’s rights, maintaining a separation of church and state, as well as making sure that we have sensible gun laws here in the state of Iowa.
As the next few months unfold, and we see what’s changing both here at the state level —as well as at the federal level, I will keep you apprised about what’s happening in my newsletters and on Facebook for daily updates as warranted.
U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade
Abortion Still Legal in Iowa
Late last week, the United States Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the case in 1973 that established a constitutional right for an individual to get an abortion.
What’s next for Iowa?
Now that Roe is overturned, the question of abortion rights is now up to each individual state. As of today, abortion in Iowa is still legal up to 20-weeks of pregnancy. However, based on previous legislation, the Governor and Republican lawmakers could soon pass a bill that would ban all abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother. Any new law would require Republican Governor Kim Reynolds to call for a special legislative session, or wait until the next legislative session in January 2023.
Earlier this month, the Iowa Supreme Court overturned a previous decision that stated abortion was a fundamental right in the Iowa Constitution. It also reinstated the 24-hr waiting period, meaning that an individual who needs an abortion will be required to have two appointments.
While the Governor and Republican lawmakers may ban abortion in Iowa, a strong majority of Iowans support reproductive freedom and abortion rights. A poll taken in 2021 found that 57 percent of Iowans said abortion should be legal in all or most cases. This was up 8 percent from 2020 when 49 percent answered the same way. Just 13 percent of Iowans believe abortion should be illegal in all cases without exceptions.
What can you do?
Everyone deserves the right to make their own health care decisions, especially when it comes to reproductive care and abortion. Most Iowans don’t want politicians interfering in someone else’s decisions about pregnancy, abortion, or when they want to start a family. If you agree, be sure to call Governor Kim Reynolds at 515-281-5221 and sign this petition.
New Laws Starting July 1
Many new laws will take effect on July 1, the start of the state’s new fiscal year. Of the 150 new laws that were passed this legislative session, 120 of them will go into effect on July 1. A number of those were bi-partisan bills that directly benefit or help Iowans. Here are a few new laws Iowans should know about.
Other new laws going into effect July 1 include: increased Radon mitigation efforts required in public schools (HF 2412), new high-quality services that support equitable early language acquisition in deaf and hard-of-hearing children (HF 604); expanded protections for elder abuse (SF 522); and allowing ATV and UTV on county and primary roads as long as the driver is at least 18 years of age and carry insurance (HF 2130).
- Lowering prescription drug costs and price gouging by preventing pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) from prohibiting pharmacies to disclose or sell lower-cost drug options (HF 2384).
- Expanding Veteran recreational opportunities by adding more special deer hunting tags reserved for veteran groups, allowing certain veterans to buy a lifetime trout fishing license (SF 581); and a five dollar annual armed forces fishing license or annual armed forces hunting and fishing combined license for any resident of Iowa who has served in the military on federal active duty (SF 2383).
- Improving Iowa’s healthcare worker shortage by expanding the Rural Iowa Primary Care Loan Repayment program to include doctors who didn’t do their residency in Iowa, neurologists, and physicians who practice part-time (SF 2383); a new Mental Health Professional Loan Repayment Program where mental health professionals can receive up to $40,000 off their student loans (HF 2549); and allowing part-time students to be eligible for the Last Dollar Scholar financial assistance program (HF 2165).
- Boosting Iowa grown businesses by promoting Iowa based companies with the creation of the “Choose Iowa Program” that allows Iowa companies to put the Choose Iowa logo on their products (HF 2581); and an artisanal butchery task force that will create a one-year certification program for artisanal butchery at Iowa community colleges (HF 2470).
Unfortunately, there are a few bills going into effect July 1 that were pushed by the Majority Party and special interests that many Iowans oppose. Those include:
For more information and a full list of bills going into effect July 1st, log on to iowahouse.org.
- Cutting earned unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 16 weeks which punishes workers who have lost their job through no fault of their own (HF 2355).
- Expanding high powered rifles to be used for a January antlerless-only hunting season and also allows a new smaller caliber which can travel over two miles (SF 581).
- Prohibiting requirement of immunization against COVID-19 before enrollment into a licensed day care, elementary or secondary school, and all post-secondary institutions (HF 2298).
- Lowering day care standards by allowing 16-year-olds to work unsupervised with children and increasing the number of kids each staff person can supervise (HF 2198).
Another Tuition Hike Proposed for Iowa’s Public Universities
After another year of low state funding, Iowa students will likely be paying more to attend college next year. The Iowa Board of Regents, charged with overseeing Iowa’s state universities, released a plan to increase tuition by 4.25 percent for resident undergraduate tuition at all three schools.
Parents and students voiced opposition to the increase citing higher student loan debt and putting higher education out of reach for some while Iowa faces a significant workforce shortage.
For years, Iowa Republicans have forced students and parents to absorb the lack of state funding to Iowa’s state universities including University of Iowa (UI), Iowa State University (ISU), and the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). Last session, the Iowa Board of Regents requested an increase of $22 million to the institutions and programs, but the Majority Party leaders only provided a $5.5 million increase that will be split between the three institutions.
The following increases in tuition (except nonresidents at the U of I) were approved at the June Board of Regents meeting and will require another approval at the July meeting before finalized.
President Signs Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into Law
This weekend, President Biden signed the historic Bipartisan Safe Communities Act into law which will reduce gun violence and save Iowans’ lives. At a time when national politics are extremely divided, bipartisan lawmakers and the President acted after the Uvalde school shooting tragedy.
The new law represents an important step forward in federal gun safety policy that will:
Recent polling found two in three Americans support stronger gun laws, which is a double digit increase since the Uvalde School shooting. Currently, 84 percent of gun-owning households strongly support mandatory background checks, expanded background checks for people under 21, and increased funding for school resource officers and mental health counselors.
- Fund crisis intervention to keep firearms out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves or others,
- Close the “boyfriend loophole” so a dating partner who commits assault is prohibited from buying or owning a gun,
- Require people aged 18-21 to undergo enhanced background checks,
- Include the first federal law-making gun trafficking and straw purchases distinct federal crimes,
- Clarify who needs to register as a federally licensed firearm dealer and require background checks prior to selling firearms,
- Provide historic funding to address the youth mental health crisis, especially trauma experienced by survivors of gun violence, and
- Invest in anti-violence programs that work directly with people who are most likely to commit gun crimes or become gun crime victims.
In the past, Iowa House Democrats have proposed strengthening background checks, extreme risk protection policies and ensuring violent dating partners are prohibited from accessing guns. However, those measures were rejected by the House majority.
This November, Iowans will be considering a state constitutional amendment on the general election ballot to raise the legal standard on firearm restrictions to “strict scrutiny” and expand gun owner protections beyond the Second Amendment. If approved, this could potentially overturn several current common-sense gun-ownership laws.
Iowa gun deaths and injuries have increased 56 percent from 2011 to 2020 as Iowa Republicans roll back common-sense firearm safety laws.
Help for Iowa’s Educators
For generations, Iowans have counted on great public schools to educate our kids and be the heart of communities.
The last two years have been especially tough for many educators and support staff who have put in long hours. It’s important that their tireless commitment to us all does not go unnoticed. As the school year ended, it became evident that Iowa is still facing a teacher shortage. In response, the Legislature passed bipartisan bills to assist school districts and teachers including:
Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed another bipartisan bill allowing para educators, with a substitute authorization, to substitute teach in grades K-12 for just the remainder of the 2021-22 school year. House File 2493 required schools to make a good-faith effort to employ a substitute teacher who is not a para educator, and required the para educator, if they are hired, to be paid at the higher of the substitute teacher or para educator wage.
- All teacher entrance and exit exams have been eliminated beginning June 13, 2022, which should increase Iowa’s pool of qualified teachers. The bill, House File 2081, was supported by teacher preparation institutions and education organizations. Even with the extra time given to take the test, there are still many students that cannot pass their exit exam. There is also the cost involved which can range as high as $300. The Department of Education (DE) estimates that 95 percent of the 1,800 graduates per year pass the exit exams, which means approximately 90 per year do not pass.
- Tax-free $1000 bonuses for Iowa’s hardworking teachers, child care workers, and other professionals.
We know that these pieces will not solve the teacher shortage issue, but Democrats believe it is time to return to our deep-rooted history in education and fully fund public education. It also means trusting and respecting local school leaders, along with parents to do what is best for schools in their own communities.
Other Iowa News
COVID-19 VACCINES CLEARED FOR CHILDREN SIX MONTHS AND OLDER: It was announced that children six months and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) also recently recommended that children aged 5-years and up are now eligible to receive a booster. Vaccines are safe and effective at keeping children safe from getting severely ill with COVID-19. For more information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine for children, please visit: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/children-teens.html. To find a vaccine provider near you, visit: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html.
GOVERNOR TO SELECT NEW IOWA SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Five Iowans applied for the vacancy on the Iowa Supreme Court which included three current state lower court judges and two practicing attorneys. All of the applicants were interviewed by the State Judicial Nominating Commission on Monday, June 27th. The commission has chosen three nominees, they are: Alan Heavens – District Court Judge, First Judicial District, Garnavillo, David May – Judge, Iowa Court of Appeals, Polk City, and William Miller – Attorney, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Des Moines. The Governor now has 30 days to appoint a new justice. The commission is made up of 17 commissioners, with a majority of the commissioners being appointed by the Governor. The remaining commissioners are selected by lawyers licensed to practice law in the state. Prior to changes by the legislature in 2019, the State Judicial Nominating was equally balanced in representation with commissioners representing lawyers in the state and commissioners appointed by the Governor. The current appointment will be the fifth appointment the governor has made to the seven-member Iowa Supreme Court. The vacancy is due to the mandatory retirement of Justice Brent Appel. According to Iowa law, there is a mandatory retirement age of 72 years old for all Iowa Supreme Court Justices and Justice Appel will turn 72 in July. Additional information on the Iowa Judicial Nominating Commissions can be found at: iowajnc.gov/state-commission.
GOLDIE’S KIDS CLUB SUMMER BREAK PROGRAM: Looking for activities to do with children over the summer? Check out the Goldie’s Kids Club summer break programs. Goldie’s Kids Club is a group for children under the age of 12 through the State Historical Society of Iowa aimed at teaching kids about Iowa’s history. Summer break activities include story time, innovative Iowans activities, and guided tours of historic sites across Iowa. Kids entering grades four through six can sign up for junior curator camp in July and August. More information about Goldie’s Kids Club can be found online, iowaculture.gov/goldie/break-programs.
I have been honored to represent all of you in house district 68 for this last session as well as those of you in my future senate district 37.
I thank you for your support as your State Representative, and I look forward to your continued support as I work to become your new State Senator next session.
I understand there are some who have a different opinion about the legislation and choices made on the floor, but I hope to keep communication lines open for all to continue to share their concerns with me.
It is my plan, as always, to work with everyone in the Capitol to better my district and the state. I look forward to bipartisan efforts that I know we will have to move Iowa forward. But I am also up for the fight to push for a better Iowa and different priorities for Iowans.
Please follow my Facebook page for updates on what’s happening around the district. I will do my best to kept events listed there over the coming months.
Go to the link below and like my legislative page to keep up to date:
As your representative, I am available throughout the year for questions, concerns, and suggestions. Please contact me if you have any concerns, questions, or comments:
It is truly an honor to serve you and I am looking forward to what the future brings in senate district 37 in 2022.