Greetings to you all,

On Monday, the House began its week of debate on a long list of bills. Here are the highlights of the first 9 bills the House passed this week. You can find the complete list of bills passed on Monday here.

  • HF 2123: An act which authorizes a criminal or juvenile justice agency to disseminate driver’s license photos in missing persons cases
  • HF 2416: An act which prohibits transgender girls from playing K-12 and college girls’ sports

I rose to speak in support of HF 2123, which allows state entities to redistribute driver’s license photos to assist in missing persons cases. I introduced an amendment to this bill which would speed up the date it goes into effect.

Tuesday was both Supermarket Employee Day and the Iowa Grocery Industry’s legislative day on the Hill, and I was pleased to meet with Doug and Jill Eilderts of Hometown Foods in Waterloo to discuss legislative issues that affect local grocery stores.

On Tuesday, the House also debated and passed 16 bills. Here are some of the highlights. You can find all of the bills debated on Tuesday here.

  • HF 2169: An act which institutes rules related to pharmacy practice to allow registered nurses to administer vaccines, among others
  • HF 2259: An act which makes it easier for a person with a disability to access special license plates or disability permits
  • HF 2288: An act which allows counties to define cybersecurity as an essential county purpose

I spoke in support of HF 2259, an act which makes it easier for a person with a disability to access special license plates or disability permits. I served on the subcommittee for this bill and was pleased to see it pass the House.

On Wednesday, I was pleased to meet with members of Dementia Friendly Iowa at the Capitol. Pictured below are Dr. Elaine Eshbaugh, Kevin Dill, Tammy Dill, and Megan Zimmerman.

On Wednesday, the House also debated and passed 33 bills. Here you can find all of the bills debated on Wednesday, the highlights of which are summarized below:

  • HF 2220: An act which updates Iowa’s definition of antisemitism
  • HF 2411: An act that institutes rules relating to the replacement of permanent prosthetic devices for injured workers
  • HF 2160: An act that provides penalties related to misconduct associated with assisted reproduction
  • HF 2373: An act which expands the definition of “company” in the state code related to restrictions regarding companies boycotting Israel
  • HJR 2005: An amendment to the Iowa Constitution that institutes a gubernatorial line of succession

On Thursday, I met with Bruce Rhoads of the Iowa Trappers Association to discuss his legislative priorities related to trapping.

On Thursday, the House finished out the week of debate. Here you can see the complete list of bills debated, and here are some highlights:

  • HF 2297: An act relating to the medical assistance and hawk-I programs, and managed care organizations
  • HF 380: An act requiring driving education courses to include instruction about distracted driving

I served on the subcommittee for HF 2297, and was pleased to see it be debated on the House floor.
In the Statehouse Newsletter, you will find information about

  • Highlights from the first legislative deadline
  • Black History in Iowa
  • The transgender discrimination bill that passed the House
  • Legislation to improve the safety of Iowa’s correctional workers

On Thursday, the Iowa School Counselor Association and Iowa Association for College Admission Counselling brought a few groups to the Capitol to meet with legislators for School Counselor Advocacy. I first met with students from UNI’S Mental Health and School Counselling Programs, and we discussed the importance of mental health and school counselling in Iowa.

I then spoke with and answered questions from students from Cedar Falls High School and Peet Junior High. These students, accompanied by CFHS Counselor Susan Langan, travelled to the Capitol representing student leadership groups such as the Black Student Union and the Student Senate from both schools.

Please share your comments with me.

Going forward, I will be listening and working closely with local leaders and community members, to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’m available by email, phone, and social media, to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch! I hope everyone stays safe.

Upcoming Events

Feb 25 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Bradley McLeod Center, 6pm, 319-273-5455

Feb 25 Voctave Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, 7pm, 319-273-4849

Feb 25 Waterloo Black Hawks vs. Dubuque Young Arena, Fri 7pm, 319-232-3444

Feb 25-27 The Rocky Horror Show Hope Martin Theatre, Fri & Sat 7pm; Sun 2pm, 319-235-0367

Feb 25-27 The Hallelujah Girls Oster Regent Theatre, Fri & Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2pm, 319-277-5283

Feb 26 UNI Men’s Basketball vs Loyola McLeod Center, 5pm, 319-273-5455

Feb 26 Waterloo Black Hawks vs. Des Moines Young Arena, Fri 6pm, 319-232-3444

Feb 27 UNI Women’s Basketball vs Illinois State McLeod Center, 2pm, 319-273-5455

Feb 27 An Officer & A Gentleman Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, 7pm, 319-273-4849

Mar 1-3 Hawkeye Farm Show UNI-Dome, 9am-4pm, 507-437-7969


An Update on the First Legislative Deadline

Last Friday, the Iowa Legislature reached its first deadline of the year known as the “funnel”. This helps narrow down the number of bills eligible for debate, and keeps things on track as we approach adjournment in April. This week, the House spent most of the week debating bills on the floor to send over to the Iowa Senate. The next deadline looms in just a few weeks.

Democratic lawmakers have been working on a number of bills this year that will improve the lives of everyday Iowans. That means putting politics aside and rewarding the hard work of Iowans. Here are just a few highlights of some of the bi-partisan bills that are being worked on this session:

  • Improving newborn screening (SF 2290)
  • Expanding industrial hemp production in Iowa (SF 2110/HF 2380)
  • Creating “Choose Iowa” labeling and promotion program for Iowa food products (SF 2230/HF 2439)
  • Creating a cold case unit (SF 2234)
  • Increasing funding for Military Home Ownership Program to allow more veterans to buy their first home (SF 2264)
  • Requiring employers to provide employees with reasonable pregnancy accommodations (HF 2257)
  • Kickstarting the mental health loan repayment program (SF 2195)
  • Encouraging teacher recruitment and retention (SF 2202)
  • Health insurance coverage for hearing aids (HF 2188)
  • Adding the suicide hotline number to student ID’s (HF 2294)
  • Giving schools more flexibility for teacher substitutes (HSB 720)
  • Requiring more transparency from drug companies (HF 2384)
  • Cutting bureaucratic red tape for restaurant/bar owners (HF 2301)
  • Expanding business and economic opportunity for native wineries (HF 2247)
  • Sending sports betting revenues to community foundations, making quality of life improvements in our communities (HF 2286)
  • Addressing the worker shortage, especially for teachers, by raising the income cap for retirees who go back to work (HF 2266)
  • Allocating additional dollars to public schools for paraeducators, substitute teachers, and bus drivers (HF 2315)
  • Extending sunset for the Iowa Energy Center to 2027 (HF 2292)

However, Majority Party lawmakers have proposed and passed several bills that make Iowa look less welcoming and makes the workforce crisis even worse. Here are some of the bills to watch out for the rest of session:

  • Tax giveaways to corporations, millionaires, and special interests (HF 2317/SF 2206)
  • Vouchers to shift money from public schools to private schools (SF 159/SSB 3080)
  • Putting teachers and librarians in jail (SF 2198)
  • Restricting solar power in Iowa (SF 2321)
  • Cutting earned unemployment benefits (HF 2279/SF 2275SF 2249)
  • Setting up new barriers to vote by mail (HSB 719/SSB 3143)
  • Prohibiting transgender students in girls’ sports (HF 2416/SSB 3146)
  • Prohibiting law enforcement from enforcing federal gun laws like background checks (HF 2303)
  • Prohibiting employers from asking about vaccinations (HSB 647)
  • Reducing safety at child care facilities by increasing child care ratios (HF 2131)
  • Forcing doctors to provide false medical information to their patients (HF 2389)
  • Allowing 16-year-olds to work with children without any supervision (HF 2198)
  • Taking away food benefits from children during a pandemic (HF 2438)
  • Raising class size and pushing teachers out of the classroom (HF 2316)

Black History is Iowa History

As we celebrate Black History Month, we are reminded of Black legacies in Iowa history. “The Shoulders We Stand On”, has been the theme chosen by the Legislative Black Caucus to commemorate this occasion. The members encouraged legislators to share stories of Black history every morning on the House Floor throughout the month of February. Equity in legislation is long overdue.

Many legislatures across the U.S., as well as right here in Iowa, are chipping away at important parts of our shared history. Last year, Legislative Republicans did just that by limiting the teachings of certain “divisive concepts” from diversity workplace training and curriculum in schools. This year, we’ve seen attempts to limit teaching history in social studies classes and banning books that pertain to subjects of race and diversity.

We still have a long way to go – the fight continues.


Discrimination Bill Passes Banning Certain Kids from Athletics

Every Iowa kid deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

This week, the House Majority Party approved a bill that discriminates against and prevents transgender girls from participating in girls’ sports in middle school, high school, and college.

Transgender kids deserve the same chances to learn those life lessons and build a sense of belonging with their peers. It is harmful to the mental health of these kids.

According to The Trevor Project, 52% of all transgender and nonbinary young people in the U.S. seriously contemplated suicide in 2020.

There has been no documented evidence that transgender girls have impacted the fairness of sports in Iowa. House File 2416 specifies that cisgender (a person whose gender identity matches the gender they were assigned at birth) female athletes are the only ones allowed to participate in a team, sport, or athletic event designated for girls.

Local schools across the state, in partnership with the high school athletic associations, have already created policies that protect transgender youth and ensure a level playing field for all students, and those guidelines are working. Banning transgender youth from participating in sports undermines those efforts.

This piece of legislation sends an unwelcoming message to the nation. Companies, including Apple, have spoken out in opposition to this discriminatory legislation.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.


Legislation Introduced to Improve Safety for Correction Workers

After tragic events in the Anamosa State Penitentiary last year that led to the deaths of two Iowans, legislation was introduced that will improve safety for Iowa’s correctional workers. Last March, nurse Lorena Schulte and correctional officer Robert McFarland were both murdered, and dental assistant Lorie Matthes was held against her will by an inmate while on duty in Anamosa. This was the first time an inmate had killed a worker since 1972.

House Democrats are spearheading the legislation that would provide the Department of Corrections (DOC) with the resources needed to keep workers safe, in hopes of preventing tragedies in the future. The family of Robert McFarland joined an Iowa Democratic lawmaker on Wednesday to push for new legislation to improve safety and give workers at correctional facilities more protection.

The “Lorena Schulte and Lorie Matthes Act” (HF 2405) and “Robert McFarland Act” (HF 2404) will keep more employees safe, give them bargaining rights, and pay surviving spouse and children health insurance after a fatality.

At the press conference Sara McFarland, the widow of Robert McFarland said, “If my husband were here today, he would support these bills to protect the health and safety of all the workers in our correctional institutions. After his tragic death, I promised I would do all I can to make sure no family has to go through this again”.

Under the proposed legislation, beginning July 1st, 2022, the state must increase funding for contraband and surveillance screening to improve all correctional facility safety operations. Department employees who have witnessed a trauma event must be given five to 30 days paid leave.

Both bills have been referred to the House State Government Committee, but have yet to be considered by Republican leaders.


More Iowa News

COVID REPORTING DATA RESOURCES: When Governor Reynolds ended the Public Health Proclamation, it shut down state websites charged with reporting vaccination statistics and COVID case count websites. Iowans can now find COVID-19 reporting data on the IDPH website at: idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus/COVID-19-Reporting. The data on the page will be updated weekly on Wednesdays.

EASIER ACCESS TO PARKING PERMITS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES: In order to give persons with disabilities easier access to parking permits, the Iowa House passed HF 2259 which allows physical therapists and occupational therapists to provide a statement of need for an Iowan applying for a persons with disabilities parking permit. Currently the statement of need must come from a medical professional in Iowa or a boarding state, but this bill expands the language to accept a statement of need from medical professionals from any state. The bill now goes to the Senate for their consideration. For more information on how to apply for a parking permit, visit the Department of Transportation’s website at: iowadot.gov/mvd/vehicleregistration/persons-with-disabilities.


REPORT FINDS IOWA WATERWAYS DO NOT MEET WATER QUALITY STANDARDS: Iowa has more impaired waters now than two years ago, with bacteria and fish kills being the top reasons for their listing, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Of the 1,382 water segments included in the report (such as creeks, rivers, and lakes) just 15 segments fully met water quality standards. About 56 percent of Iowa’s assessed rivers and streams and 67 percent of assessed lakes and reservoirs have impairments, meaning they don’t meet at least one standard for their intended use such as drinking, recreation or supporting aquatic life. The DNR uses a number of different water quality monitoring methods to determine the status of the water segments. Public comments on the impaired waters list can be submitted to: IRcomment@dnr.iowa.gov.

MORE INVESTMENTS AVAILABLE TO THE VETERANS OF IOWA: A bill just passed the Iowa House of Representatives that increases the amount of money that can be allocated to assist veterans in need from the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund. Currently, the Trust Fund can spend $500,000 annually, but this bill would raise that amount to $800,000. The Veterans Trust Fund aids qualified veterans for job training, education assistance, emergency housing and vehicle repairs, dental work, and durable medical equipment. The Iowa Lottery provides $2.5 million annually to the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund. Since 2008, the Iowa Lottery has given more than $36 million to the Fund. The bill, HF 2293, now goes to the Senate for consideration.

By | 2022-02-25T23:13:47+00:00 February 25th, 2022|Newsletters|