The Legislature adjourned on Tuesday from a special session that was ordered by the governor, to pass the governor’s anti abortion bill. Several Iowans expressed their opposition to the governor’s bill. The statewide numbers show that over 60% of Iowans support maintaining access to reproductive healthcare. Lawsuits have been filed and we will have to see what happens.
In the Statehouse Newsletter, you will find information about:
Iowans Speak Out to Protect Reproductive Freedom.
Price Tag Grows for Governor’s Voucher Scheme.
U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against Student Loan Forgiveness
Pensions Vital to a Strong Economy.
988 LIFELINE TO HELP IOWANS WITH MENTAL HEALTH.
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During a special session held on Tuesday at the State Capitol, thousands of Iowans spoke out against the Governor’s bill to strip away reproductive freedom from Iowans.
Republican lawmakers and Governor Reynolds called the special session to ban abortion at about six weeks, long before many women even know they are pregnant. House File 732, passed 56-34 with bipartisan opposition. Democrats locked up in firm opposition with all members voting no and fought back against the extreme abortion ban stating repeatedly that this is a decision that belongs between an individual and their doctor.
A majority of Iowans support reproductive freedom and do not want politicians interfering in someone else’s decisions about pregnancy, abortion, or when they want to start a family. This was made evident by the outcry of Iowans who visited the statehouse, left a public comment, and reached out to their lawmakers. Of the Iowans registered on the bill, 97% were against the bill and just 3% were for the bill.
Governor Reynolds announced that she will sign the abortion ban on Friday, July 14 at a private fundraising event sponsored by the Family Leader. The Family Leader is a far-right special interest group with seven lobbyists at the State Capitol that work to ban gay marriage, books, birth control, and all abortion.
With the new abortion ban set to take effect immediately when signed, a lawsuit was also filed early on Wednesday by several organizations to prevent enforcement of the law. A court hearing has been set for Friday afternoon.
Last month, the Iowa Supreme Court split 3-3 on Governor Kim Reynolds’ efforts to reinstate the 2018 six-week abortion ban. After learning she didn’t get what she wanted from the court, Reynolds called the special session.
House Democrats continue to fight to protect our reproductive freedom. Instead of more bans on health care, here’s what Democratic Legislators have proposed the Iowa Legislature do to protect the reproductive freedom of Iowans:
Make birth control pills accessible through a pharmacist without a prescription
Guarantee reproductive freedom by adding it to Iowa’s Constitution
Extend Medicaid postpartum coverage to 12 months
Expand access to reproductive health care by restoring family planning programs cut by the Governor and GOP
Price Tag Grows for Governor’s Voucher Scheme
According to data released by the Reynolds Administration, sixty percent of students who have applied for the Governor’s new voucher program are already in private schools.
Last session, House File 68 passed with bipartisan opposition, taking dollars away from public schools and giving them to private schools. According to nonpartisan fiscal estimates, during the legislative session, it was estimated to cost $107 million in the first year and almost $1 billion over the next four years. Iowa taxpayers could now be footing the bill for as much as $221.6 million in K-12 private school costs in the 2023-24 school year.
Over the last few months, Iowa families have learned that the cost of attending a nonpublic K-12 school will increase sharply next year under the new voucher program. Some private schools have increased tuition by 40%, or even doubled tuition over last year, allowing private schools to increase profits on the backs of Iowa’s taxpayers.
The next step in the process will be to determine if there is a spot in a private school for each of these students. According to reports, there are only 9,000 open spots in accredited Iowa private schools for the upcoming school year. Some vouchers won’t be activated because there was no private school option for the student, especially in rural Iowa where private schools aren’t an option. Instead, many public schools in rural areas will miss out on increased funding and more opportunities.
Democratic lawmakers are keeping a close watch on Iowa tax dollars being spent on nonpublic schools and are working to keep Iowans informed as more details are released.
U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against Student Loan Forgiveness
In a split decision, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the implementation of the Biden Administration’s one-time federal student loan debt relief plan.
In an effort to grow the economy and help borrowers, President Joe Biden released his plan to implement student loan forgiveness last summer. According to the U.S. Department of Education, nearly 90% of the relief from our plan would have gone to borrowers making less than $75,000 a year, and none of it would have gone to people making more than $125,000.
Much like the PPP loans given to businesses during the pandemic, student loans would be forgiven to provide families breathing room. Instead of helping Iowans, Governor Kim Reynolds joined a group of GOP politicians to sue the President. Several of those Republican politicians were also recipients of forgiven PPP loans.
Undeterred, the President announced plans to address student debt in light of the supreme court ruling. The U.S. Department of Education has finalized an affordable repayment plan that borrowers can take advantage of later this summer—before loan payments are due. Many borrowers will not have to make monthly payments under this plan. Those that do, will save more than $1,000 a year. In addition, borrowers who miss monthly payments during this period are not considered delinquent, reported to credit bureaus, placed in default, or referred to debt collection agencies.
According to a new study, a strong retirement system leads to significant economic activity in the state.
The study, “National Institute on Retirement Security” shows retiree spending from state and local pension plan benefits also supported 18,935 jobs in Iowa. The total income of state residents supported by pension expenditures was $894.7 million, which accounts for over a full percentage, 1.1%, of the state’s labor force.
In 2020 alone, 131,882 Iowa residents received $2.6 billion in pension benefits from state and local pension plans. Iowa retirees’ spending from these benefits supported a total of $2.9 billion in total economic output in the state, and $1.7 billion in value added in the state.
It also found that each dollar paid out in pension benefits supported $1.14 in total economic activity in Iowa. Each dollar “invested” by Iowa taxpayers in these pension plans supported $5.18 in total economic activity in the state.
COURT RULES UPDATE CLARIFY PROTECTIONS FOR MINOR VICTIMS: In order to protect minors in court cases, court rules were updated recently to streamline the process of minors not having to be interviewed or deposed in front of their defendant, who is often accused of committing a crime against the child. The legislature required the change of this rule this year to allow a minor witness to have an interview or deposition taken outside the presence of the defendant. Before this rule change, a court order was required to grant a request by a minor witness. The rules provide that a court order is not necessary for a child to exercise this right, and the child only has to file a notice. Removing this approval by the court will also streamline the process for a child that exercises this right since no court action will be needed. Iowa law requires the Supreme Court to submit changes to court rules to the Legislative Council. The change in court rules takes effect 60 days after the submission of the rules to the Legislative Council unless the Legislative Council delays the rules.
988 LIFELINE TO HELP IOWANS WITH MENTAL HEALTH: Last year a new hotline was created nationwide to combat mental health crises known as 988. Any Iowan experiencing mental health issues, including stress, isolation, and uncertainty can dial 988. The two Iowa crisis centers which handle calls from the National 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, saw 142% more contacts statewide this year compared to last year. Another hotline and online chat system, Your Life Iowa, is still in use and is a free and confidential resource for Iowans. Please visit YourLifeIowa.com for free confidential online help or call 988 to speak with a crisis counselor.