To the People of House District 54
Life, freedom and education were the main topics debated during Week 3 of the 89th General Assembly. I will go into more detail about each of these topics below, but first I want to summarize how a bill moves through the chambers.
The Iowa Legislature consists of two chambers: House and Senate. A bill must pass through both chambers – in identical language – before it is eligible to become a law. A bill that originates in the House will begin with “HF” for House File or “HSB” for House Study Bill. Similarly, a bill that originates in the Senate will begin with “SF" or "SFB."
The public may provide input as a bill makes its way through each of the chambers. Due to the pandemic, you can virtually join subcommittee meetings and ask questions using the “chat” feature. You also can watch bills be debated live on the chamber floor. NOTE: Legislative time may differ from the clock. A debate scheduled to begin at 5 P.M., for example, may not begin until 6:00 or 6:30 P.M.
This week I received several messages about Senate File 159, the Governor’s Education Bill. Please know that I shared a summary of your comments and concerns with several of my colleagues on the House Education Committee. After being passed by the Senate late on Thursday night, Jan. 28, SF 159 was sent to the House. Next it will be assigned to a House Committee where it must first get passed by a subcommittee and then by the full House Education Committee. Again, there are opportunities for amendments during this process.
Also late on Thursday night, the Iowa House passed HF 229 (SF 160) that would require schools to present options for 100% in-person learning. Gov. Reynolds is expected to sign this bill into law on Friday, Jan. 29.
Debate went late Wednesday, Jan. 27, on the Life Amendment. This amendment returns our state constitution to neutral after the Iowa Supreme Court in 2017 declared abortion a constitutional right in Iowa. The Court’s ruling threatens any reasonable restrictions on abortion, such as late-term abortions and taxpayer-funded abortions. These restrictions are even supported by many Iowans who are pro-choice.
I voted “yes’ for this amendment for several reasons, one being that I believe we should allow the people of Iowa to determine reasonable abortion regulations. If the Iowa Senate also passes the exact same language in this Life Amendment, the next General Assembly must approve this language again either in 2023 or in 2024. Then it could appear on Iowans’ ballots in the 2024 election.
This amendment to the Iowa Constitution would explicitly protect the foundational right that Iowans deserve, thus preventing a future Legislature or overzealous judiciary that is hostile to the Second Amendment. Iowa is only one of six states without language in its constitution that protects the fundamental right to keep and bear arms. Now that this Second Amendment resolution has been passed twice by the House and Senate, it will go to Iowa voters in the 2022 election.
This issue was one that I was frequently asked about while I was running for office. I know protecting our Second Amendment is important to the majority of my constituents, and I voted for it.
The Iowa Firefighters Association held its annual Chili Cookoff on Jan. 28 in the Capitol. Representatives Cherielynn Westrich from Wapello Co. and Chad Ingels from Fayette Co. and I put five different chili recipes to the test. With bragging rights at stake, we cast our votes. Congratulations to the Radcliffe Fire Department for serving up the winning recipe!