More Common-Sense, Less Politics
Iowans expected the 2022 legislative session to stay focused on common-sense ideas that would improve their day to day lives. Things like fair wages, the ability to pay bills on time, good schools, affordable child care, and reducing the cost of gas and other living expenses are important to Iowans.
With the legislative session still underway, there is still plenty of time for the Senate to pass common-sense proposals that have already survived the Iowa House before we adjourn for the year:
- Allowing midwives to be licensed (House File 2547)
- Creating new scholarships for students with intellectual disabilities (House File 2495);
- Providing reasonable accommodation for pregnant workers in the workplace (House File 2257)
- Requiring employers to treat adoptive parents the same as biological parents (House File 724)
- Preventing suicide by encouraging an Iowa Crisis Suicide Prevention contact information printed on student IDs (House File 2294)
- Making a cybersecurity simulation training center at ISU (House File 2555)
Instead of working in unison on constructive legislation to round out the legislative session, Republican leaders have sent lawmakers home while they work behind closed doors to pass the private school vouchers bill. The bill would divert millions of state tax dollars from local public schools and funnel the money to private schools. This will only hurt and close more public schools, especially in rural areas.
A majority of Iowans oppose school vouchers, and Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate have unified against this attack on public education. Majority Party lawmakers should be focused on common-sense bills designed to actually help Iowa families.
Reproductive Rights at Risk
This week, a drafted U.S. Supreme Court ruling was leaked that signaled how it may vote on a case dismantling Roe v. Wade. Originally argued in 1973, the Roe v. Wade case established a constitutional right for an individual to obtain an abortion. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the legality of abortion rights would be up to each individual state. In Iowa, there would be no immediate changes to the law due to a 2018 ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court stating that individuals have a “fundamental right to abortion” in the state.
Instead of protecting these rights, Republican politicians are working diligently to change Iowa’s Constitution and take away the most basic right of a pregnant person to make their own health care decisions. This Republican proposed Constitutional Amendment passed the Legislature in the 2021 General Assembly, and must pass the Legislature again in the 2024 General Assembly. If it were to pass the Legislature a second time, it would be placed on the ballot for the public to vote. If both the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the passing of the Constitutional Amendment were to occur, abortions would be banned in the state with no exceptions allowed for rape, incest, or even to save the life of the mother.
This oppressive extremism is out-of-step with what every day Iowans think. A poll taken in 2021 showed that 57 percent of Iowans said abortion should be legal in all or most cases. This was up 8 percent from 2020.
The leaked Supreme Court opinion is only the latest step in the attack on Iowan’s reproductive health care decisions. In 2018, Republican lawmakers attacked bodily autonomy by passing a law that would ban abortions once a heartbeat is detected, usually at about 6 weeks. This is before many people even know they are pregnant. This law was struck down as unconstitutional by the Iowa courts at that time.
In 2017, the same lawmakers decided to decline $3 million of annual federal funding to help Iowa create a state family program. This closed down multiple family planning and health care clinics. The closures left 14,600 Iowans without health care, including access to services like birth control, cancer screenings, and other reproductive health services. Since that time, more labor and delivery units have closed across Iowa while Iowa’s abortion rate has risen dramatically.
Iowa will continue to be a dangerous place for people to live should the anticipated U.S. Supreme Court decision stand. Iowans should be able to make their own healthcare decisions, not politicians. As history has shown, bans like these will not decrease the number of abortions performed, but will only force people to find desperate and deadly alternatives.
Prepare to Vote in the June Primary Election
As we get closer to the upcoming June 7th primaries, Iowans should be aware of recent changes that may impact their ability to vote. Between navigating the pandemic and the Republican Party’s newly implemented voting obstacles, how Iowans cast their vote has changed. Folks will now have less time to cast a vote by mail ballot.
Here are some key dates and deadlines to keep in mind as you prepare to vote in Iowa’s June 7th primary:
Register to vote: mymvd.iowadot.gov/Account/Login?ReturnUrl=%2fVoterRegistration
Submit your vote-by-mail ballot request to your county auditor: sos.iowa.gov/elections/pdf/absenteeballotapp.pdf
County auditors must receive your vote-by-mail application by 5 p.m. on May 23: sos.iowa.gov/elections/auditors/auditorslist.html
Find your polling place for the June 7th primary at: sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/pollingplace/search.aspx
Sexual and Domestic Abuse Fixes Will Keep Survivors Safe
Many domestic abuse survivors fall through the cracks in Iowa, but two new fixes were recently signed into law to address victim safety and protect survivors.
Protective orders currently allow survivors of sexual assault or domestic abuse to have the ability to cut off contact with their abuser. House File 2079, will additionally require keeping the abuser in custody before being released for a potential crime of sexual abuse.
This assures that a judge can enter into a no-contact order to protect the victim. Current law already requires this appearance for violating a domestic abuse no-contact order or a sexual abuse protective order, and this bill will assure that these protective orders can be granted in cases involving sexual abuse.
Additional protections found in House File 825 may make it easier for survivors to be issued protective orders. Currently, protective orders can be granted through a consent agreement between two parties if there is a finding of abuse. In some cases, an abuser may be willing to consent to a protective order, but may be reluctant if there is going to a be a formal finding on the record that the person committed domestic or sexual abuse. The bill will remove the requirement to find abuse before granting a protective order by consent agreement. A protective order by consent can be easier for a domestic abuse survivor to receive while still providing the exact same protections as any other protective order in the state.
Increased Hemp Production Signed into Law
Iowa lawmakers have voted to increase the number of acres a hemp farmer can grow their product on. Prior to the passage of House File 2380, farmers in Iowa could only grow up to 40 acres of hemp per year. The new law expands the amount of hemp production to 320 acres. However, farmers will have to wait until the 2023 growing season to apply to grow more than 40 acres.
The increase in acres is needed for farmers to grow hemp for both industrial use and commercial use in order to attract industrial hemp manufactures to Iowa. Industrial hemp can be used to make over 25,000 different sustainable products including paper, clothing, biodegradable plastics, and construction materials.
Iowa farmers should have the ability and flexibility to diversify their crops. As the industrial hemp industry continues to gain popularity, Iowa should be a leader in its growth.
Other Iowa News
THANK YOU, IOWA TEACHERS: During National Teacher Appreciation week, we celebrate the teachers in Iowa and the positive impact they have on our kids. The last two years have been especially tough for many educators and support staff who have put in long hours doing their very best to help our kids through this pandemic. Public schools and teachers have been at the center of discussions this legislative session, with the President of the Senate claiming that Iowa teachers are following a “sinister agenda”. It is important that we recognize the tireless commitment of teachers. Iowa teachers and all those who work in schools deserve our respect, thanks, and support. If you know an educator, please reach out today and tell them thank you. They need to know the actions of some lawmakers do not represent the views of all.
REMEMBERING LIVES LOST ON THE JOB: More than 70 Iowans lost their lives to workplace fatalities and illnesses over the last two years. Countless more were injured or sick on the job. We honored them on April 28th for Workers Memorial Day. Democratic lawmakers will continue to push for laws that strengthen worker rights, ensure workplace health and safety, and eliminate hazards that cause preventable injury, illness and death. Here is a list of those that were remembered this year: bit.ly/3F11Z03.
REAL ID DEADLINE A YEAR AWAY: After May 3, 2023, travelers wanting to use their state issued ID or driver’s license to board a domestic flight will need a REAL ID compliant license or ID. A REAL ID will also be needed to enter federal buildings. In Iowa, all REAL ID licenses and IDs will have a star surrounded by a gold circle in the upper-righthand corner. In order to receive a REAL ID, you must provide documents that prove your identity, social security number, two examples that prove Iowa residency, and proof of legal name changes if your name is different from the name on your identity document. The DOT is encouraging anyone who hasn’t received a REAL ID to do so soon. To receive a personalized list of the documents you will need visit, iowadot.gov/mvd/realid/success.aspx.
NATIONAL CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WEEK: Since 1984, a Presidential Proclamation declared the first week in May to remember the work and sacrifices of America’s correctional officers and employees. 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 to push for new legislation to improve safety and give workers at correctional facilities more protection. Democratic lawmakers stand with Iowa Correction employees who are most deserving of respect and highest praise for risking their own lives to make our communities safe.