Rep. Steven Holt

Rep. Steven Holt

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Flattening the Curve, or Flattening the Country?

In response to the Coronavirus, Americans were told by their federal and state governments to shut down their businesses, stop going to church, work, school or out to eat, travel only when necessary, and hunker down at home. Originally, Americans were led to believe this was for a two or three week period, in order to flatten the curve and not overwhelm our healthcare system. At seven weeks and counting, with staggering economic loss that will leave families and thousands of small businesses and farmers with profound devastation, the question must be asked, are we trying to flatten the curve or flatten our country?

The initial models that pointed to a staggering loss of life from the Coronavirus have proven wildly inaccurate. As of May 1, the CDC revised the number of deaths in the U.S. from the virus down to 37,308, after apparently removing deaths that were actually caused by the flu and pneumonia. Curiously, other places on the CDC site still had the death toll at 66,418. Regardless of which number is accurate, perspective is important and it must be remembered that medical experts have stated that the number of deaths attributed to the Coronavirus is being liberally interpreted and reported. The numbers cannot be considered in a vacuum, so it must be noted that deaths from pneumonia in the U.S. during the same period were 64,382.

The original goal of closing much of the U.S. economy and staying at home was to flatten the curve of new Coronavirus cases so that our hospital systems would not be overwhelmed. Hospitals built by the Army Corps of Engineers to handle the increased volume have mostly been taken down. Except for a few spots in the U.S., the healthcare system was not overwhelmed. As the medical models of casualties from the Coronavirus continue to be adjusted down, it is clear the curve has been flattened, so why do we continue to stay closed and worsen the economic devastation that tunnel vision has thus far kept many of our leaders from acknowledging?

Most health experts say 80% of Americans will get the Coronavirus and experience only mild symptoms. The curve has been flattened. Our healthcare system is not overwhelmed. Why then is our economy, for the most part, still closed?

Projections for loss of life in Iowa have been lowered from staggering numbers to a prediction of 365. While any loss of life is horrific, this number must be put into perspective as we consider the devastation being done to our economy, our families, and our way of life by actions taken to combat the Coronavirus. Consider that 578 Iowans died from the flu and pneumonia in 2017, a greater number than are likely to pass away from the Coronavirus. We also know that many who die from the virus are elderly with underlying health conditions, increasing the likelihood that any serious illness could result in their death. While we must take the Coronavirus seriously, is our response necessary or economically sustainable? The data shows that the answer to both questions is no. We are no longer flattening the curve; we are flattening our state and nation.

We have seen the medical data. What has been less visible in press conferences and in the overall reporting of the Coronavirus and our response to it, are the economic and human costs of what we are doing:

  • 30 million Americans are out of work and the number grows daily.
  • Dairy farmers are pouring out milk they have no market for.
  • Pork producers are euthanizing hogs they have no market for.
  • According to a study by Iowa State University, the losses to Iowa Agriculture are at a staggering $6.7 billion and growing, with the largest losses in pork production and ethanol.
  • In Iowa, the economic loss for corn is estimated to be $788 million, $213 million for soybean, and $34 million for cattle.
  •  The Iowa Restaurant Association estimates as many as 25% of Iowa’s restaurants will not reopen, a number brought close to home as I write this newsletter, with the owners of Crawford County’s longest operating restaurant announcing they will not reopen unless buyers are found.
  • Iowa’s public universities are predicting a $187 million loss.
  • Iowa is spending $200 million or more per month on unemployment claims, with over 171,000 Iowans unemployed.
  • 29% of the U.S. economy is frozen as a result of government action, with U.S. economic output down 29%.
  • U.S. unemployment could soon hit 47 million, which is a 32% unemployment rate.
  • Losses to U.S. tourism are predicted to top $910 billion.
  • Retirement plans for millions of Americans are being decimated, with average 401k loss at 19%;
  • Drug and alcohol addiction and relapse are increasing.
  • Testing for chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease are being delayed, which could lead to increased health problems and life-threatening illnesses in the future.
  • Economic damage to rural hospitals will likely lead to hospital closures and less access to health care in some areas.
  • Warnings of a meat shortage in the U.S. have been issued by the CEO’s of several meat processing companies, with reports that the food supply chain is under great strain. Several grocery store chains are now limiting meat purchases and some national restaurant chains are no longer offering certain meat products on their menus. Higher meat prices are almost certain in the months to come.
  • Huge U.S. debt increases unlike anything seen since WWII, to the tune of over $3 trillion and counting, are adding to the already monstrous $22 trillion in U.S. debt. This does not bode well for our children or future economic stability.

The list of consequences goes on and on, and behind each of the statistics is a family struggling to survive, a father and mother fearful of how they will care for their children, a small business owner seeing their dreams and hard work destroyed overnight by draconian government mandates, a restaurant owner deciding never to reopen, a dairy farmer throwing in the towel and a business owner postponing indefinitely plans for expanding. Behind these numbers is an economy profoundly impacted by the government response to the Coronavirus, with implications for our economic wellbeing profound and long-lasting. Expansion projects delayed, business closures, layoffs and contractions for many businesses will likely keep unemployment numbers high and depress economic expansion for an unknown amount of time. Let us be clear, it grows worse every day we remain closed. We are not flattening the curve; we are flattening the country.

Elected leaders have a responsibility to think critically and report the truth to their constituents. Elected leaders have a moral obligation to lead-based on truth, not public opinion polls. Finally, elected leaders swore an oath to the Constitution and that is where their loyalty should reside. I cannot at this time make optimistic platitudes that we will get through this together without also pointing out the profound and continuing impact of government action to combat the Coronavirus on our families and our future. It is time for truth, not platitudes. We are not flattening the curve; we are flattening the country, and our leaders must boldly admit this fact and reopen our economy before it is too late.

In my next newsletter, I will discuss the destruction of liberty in America as a result of government actions to combat the Coronavirus.
I am proud to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me at [email protected]

 

Monday, April 13, 2020

Dangerous Freedom or Peaceful Slavery

In the effort to keep our citizens safe as we battle against the Coronavirus, I have supported the directives, guidance and use of emergency powers by our President and Governor, as I believe they have followed the advice and modeling of our medical professionals. I believe they have acted in good faith and what they believe to be in the national and state interest. However, as soon as possible, we must open our economy and resume our lives, taking prudent precautions based on data in individual areas and regions.

I have said this several times before and will say it again: we must not allow the cure for the Coronavirus to be worse than the disease. We cannot continue our current status long term, and it is false that the economy will instantly return to normal when we do go back to work, as some seem to believe. The consequences of actions taken to combat COVID-19 will be long term and profound.

I am deeply concerned about the abuse of power that has recently been displayed in some states (not Iowa), where drive-up church services are being targeted, and free citizens are not being allowed to buy vegetable seeds and American flags. This is an abuse of power. While we must be concerned about the virus, we must also be concerned about the long-term consequences to our economy, our liberty, and our children’s future.

We must have a national conversation about the benefits of the actions taken to combat the Coronavirus, versus the consequences to our economic vitality, our small businesses, our livelihoods and our liberty. The loss of life that would come from economic collapse and societal breakdown, very real possibilities if this goes on too long, must be carefully considered in deciding the extent of restrictions on our economy and liberty. Of course we must care about every single life that could be lost to the Coronavirus, but we must also care about the potential for substantial loss of life possible if actions taken to slow the spread result in consequences beyond our ability to mitigate or control. It will be painful, but as a free people, we must have this conversation.

Governor Reynolds has responsibly used her emergency powers. However, I believe we must evaluate what measures should be enacted to place a time limit on the use of extraordinary executive power in time of emergency, after which a vote of elected officials would be required for it to continue. We must ensure adequate protections are in place to safeguard our liberty, even in time of emergency.

We should also bear in mind, as the political games begin to play out on the Coronairus response, that Dr. Fauci and other medical experts are speaking only from one perspective, while our elected officials must weigh all factors, including what a continued shutdown will do to our economy, our families and our future as a free people. Elected officials, by moral necessity, must do a cost-benefit analysis and ensure that we can survive the measures (costs) being advocated by those in the medical profession, and that the response is worth the damage that will be done to our economy, our families and our liberty. I think our elected officials must also approach medical models with a healthy dose of skepticism, given that several of the preliminary models with dire projections of spread and loss of life from the Coronavirus were later declared to be based on faulty data and are proving to be wildly inaccurate.

I am deeply disturbed when talking heads and so called experts suggest that restrictions on our liberty and economy should go on for as long as 18 months. That is pure insanity. As free people, we can accept the drastic measures taken to fight this virus for a short time only, and even then, with a highly skeptical eye. To accept any of this as a “new normal,” is to give up our liberty, economic well-being and way of life for “security” that is nothing more than an allusion. The words of Thomas Jefferson should be well remembered in the weeks to come: “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”

On the bright side, Iowa is in the best shape possible to weather the coming economic storm, which will only grow more ominous the longer we keep huge portions of our economy closed. Republicans have demanded fiscal responsibility in the 6 years I have served in office, keeping our reserve and emergency funds full while maintaining a healthy ending balance. The state’s rainy-day fund in 2019 would sustain state spending for about 37 days. This is nine days longer than the national average, and places Iowa in a better position than at the beginning of the 2007 Great Recession.  This is precisely because of fiscal responsibility demanded by Republicans.

My hope is that we will continue to follow the guidelines and orders of our President, Governor, the CDC and the Iowa Department of Public Health, as this will help ensure we get back to work and back to liberty as soon as possible. At the same time, our leaders must consider carefully the unintended consequences of continuing there restrictions for much longer.

I am grateful for the leadership of our President and Governor, and I suspect they share my sense of urgency in safeguarding our liberty and getting back to work responsibly but as soon as possible.

I am honored to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me at [email protected]

Thursday, April 2, 2020

State Coronavirus Update

Governor Recommends Schools Stay Closed

On Thursday April 2nd, Governor Reynolds recommended that Iowa schools remain closed until at least April 30th.

Prior to suspending session, the Legislature waived missed school days up to April 13th. Because the situation was continuing to evolve, the Legislature also gave the Governor the authority to waive additional missed school days. She can do this on a statewide or district-by-district basis.

Parents can find several tools and resources to help their kids continue learning on the Iowa Department of Education’s website. That link can be found here.

Legislative Session Will Remain Suspended

Following the Governor’s recommendation that schools remain closed, leaders in the House and Senate announced that the suspension of the legislative session will also be extended until at least April 30th. The Legislative Council will meet soon to formally extend the suspension.

Speaker Pat Grassley’s statement on the continued suspension:

“The health and safety of all Iowans is our top priority during this unprecedented situation. Continuing the pause on session is the right decision at this time but we hope to be back soon to complete our work. I want to thank each and every Iowan for doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19. I also want to thank Governor Reynolds for her strong leadership during this time of uncertainty. As Iowans, I have no doubt in my mind that we can get through this together.”

No “Shelter-In-Place” Order Needed at This Time

While some Democrat politicians are calling for a shelter-in-place, Governor Reynolds says she is looking at the data and following the advice of public health experts who say that such a measure is not necessary at this time. Governor Reynolds has stated that her decision could change depending on what new data shows.

Governor Reynolds has already taken significant action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 such as closing non-essential businesses, suspending non-essential surgeries, and encouraging Iowans to stay at home and practice social distancing.

 While many states have issued formal “shelter-in-place” orders, they often don’t do much more than what’s already being done in Iowa. In fact, some of the actions that Governor Reynolds has taken are often stronger than what other states have done, even though they have a formal order in place.

 Some of the additional reasons against a shelter-in-place order in Iowa include:

  • Iowa’s population density is much smaller than most states (The New York City metro area’s population density is nearly 100x larger than Iowa’s)
  • Iowa does not utilize mass public transit which often spreads disease
  • Iowa does not have large apartment buildings where thousands of people live
  • A shelter-in-place order would strain local law enforcement resources

Unemployment Policy Update

This week, Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) announced two unemployment insurance policies to implement the federal CARES Act that will help workers and self-employed business owners.

Workers: Effective immediately, employees who are or will be affected by COVID-19 will no longer be required to use all paid leave prior to being eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. The CARES Act provided the state with a significant amount of additional funding to support Iowans during this unprecedented time.

Self-Employed Business Owners: The CARES Act has also expanded the number of people who qualify for unemployment benefits to include self-employed, independent contractors, nonprofit employees, and gig economy workers. Prior to the CARES Act, these individuals did not qualify for unemployment benefits.

Iowa SOS Makes Voting in the June Primary Easier
On June 6th, Iowa will hold its primary election for federal, state, and local candidates.

To keep Iowa voters safe and healthy amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Secretary of State Paul Pate announced this week that he will mail all registered voters an absentee ballot request form. Because we are uncertain what things will look like in June, this will allow Iowans to receive a ballot and vote by mail in the comfort of their home.

Ballot requests will be mailed out in mid- to late-April. More information can be found on the Secretary of State’s website here.

I am listening closely to the concerns of constituents and forwarding information to the Governor’s office for review/action. I am deeply concerned for our small businesses and the huge and disproportional impact this will have on their future. I know it is disturbing that many larger chains continue operation while small businesses are in many cases shuttered; and yet they provide essential services that must be maintained, such as access to food and other essential supplies. As we fight to protect our most vulnerable citizens, there are no easy or perfect answers. I will continue to address these issues and provide frequent updates on my Facebook page and in newsletters.

While there have been some disturbing stories of irresponsible conduct, there are many more stories of great citizens working hard and making a positive difference for their communities. I am so thankful for our healthcare professionals who are putting themselves in harm’s way for others. We will get through this together. Summer sunshine will soon be here.

I am honored to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me at [email protected]

Such a Time as This — March 24, 2020

Representative Steven Holt

Since my last newsletter, the world changed. As Americans and Iowans, we have experienced events that jarred our lives. Many of our friends and fellow Iowans have been drastically impacted economically by the efforts to contain the Coronavirus, and our busy lives have suddenly slowed dramatically. In the events of recent weeks, there can be found challenges to our character personally and as citizens, but also opportunities to show who we are as friends, family members, and neighbors. The sudden reality of combatting the Coronavirus is also a test of our state and national character and for many an opportunity to grow in their faith.

America is a place that moves. Americans are not known for taking things easy. Our national character is about working hard and playing hard. We all live very busy lives and operate on tight schedules. Suddenly, the necessity of flattening the curve of the Coronavirus to protect our most vulnerable citizens and not overwhelm the health care system became our top priority almost overnight. To slow the spread of the virus, many restaurants and bars owned by friends and neighbors were shut down, along with fitness centers, movie theatres, hair salons, and many others. Children were sent home from school and universities closed. In this effort, we have seen shared sacrifice and selfless acts to help others.

Many of our friends and neighbors are deeply concerned for their future. Small business owners wonder if they will survive and how they will pay the bills, while workers face an uncertain future. Health care workers on the front lines work tirelessly to help others, with some facing a shortage of personal protective equipment. Truckers work zealously to move the goods and equipment needed to provide for our citizens and their safety. Citizens respond by identifying needs in their communities and work to meet those needs.  Government leaders and state and national agencies have mobilized to do all they can to provide the necessary assistance to weather the storm and ultimately emerge stronger than before.

Amidst the challenges and difficulties, come opportunities. Many parents suddenly have more time to spend with their children; to read, play games, take walks and have family devotionals. In this time of sudden pause, we can talk more and listen closely to one another. As individuals, we have more time for exercise, reading, catching up on the To-Do list, helping our neighbors and personal growth in our faith. We all have the opportunity during this unexpected moment to take stock of ourselves and evaluate how we can do more to leave our communities, state and nation better than we found them. Within the challenge currently before us, is the opportunity to become better than we’ve ever been.

We must pray for our elected leaders as they make difficult decisions that have profound consequences in a myriad of ways. While working to slow the spread and save lives, our leaders must also weigh the profound economic consequences for our citizens. They must balance the need to save lives with the reality that the cure could be worse than the disease if the impact to our economy cannot be mitigated. I trust that they will make the right decisions.

Now is not the time for elected leaders of either party to play politics. Now is the time to pass the federal legislation necessary to ease the pain to our economy, our businesses big and small, and our workers. The cost will be massive and into the trillions of dollars, but the cost will be far higher if the economic impact is not lessened through appropriate government action focused on the issues at hand. I am confident our leaders will get it done.

Our nation is the best prepared in the world to deal with these challenges because we have a strong economy, the world’s greatest innovators, decisive leadership and the most advanced health care system in the history of the human race.  Iowa is uniquely prepared to weather this storm, because of sound economic policies and fiscal discipline demanded by Republicans over the last four years. Our reserve and emergency funds are full, and we have a healthy ending balance. It will no doubt be a challenging road back to recovery, but we will work together and make the hard decisions to get it done.

Ultimately, the United States of America is the best-prepared country to deal with this crisis because it is in our national character to weather the storm and emerge stronger than ever before. We are, after all, the product of the Greatest Generation that defeated Japanese and Nazi tyranny; and the Greatest Generation was the product of those who survived the Great Depression and won the first World War, and they, in turn, were the product of those who fought a Civil War and ended slavery.  Ultimately, we as Americans are the descendants of Washington and Jefferson and those who forged the greatest document of human governance, the Constitution of the United States. We will prevail and our nation will hum once again with the sound of a busy, free people working for their families, their communities, their state, and their country.

In this time of national challenge, the words of one of my heroes, John Wayne, seem a fitting way to end this newsletter. He said, “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives, and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”

I am honored to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me at [email protected]

 

Freedom Watch 3/12/2020

A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt

A Time for Reason & Logic

 

It is time for reason, logic and a measured evaluation of the facts regarding the Coronavirus. We need to stop listening to the voices of panic and hysteria and remember that we are Americans and Iowans. We are well on our way to making the reaction to this health concern far worse than the consequences of the virus itself. It is time to put this situation into perspective.

We do not yet know what the infection rate will be for the Coronavirus, but most estimates are a little less or a little more than the mortality rate for the standard flu we face every year. Let’s all remember, there is another virus that has thus far infected 15 million Americans across the country and killed more than 8,200 people this flu season alone. It’s not a new pandemic; it’s influenza. Perspective matters.

As we are considering our response as individuals, parents and as responsible citizens, let us keep these facts in mind:

  • Most people (80%) will never know they have COVID-19. Symptoms will be like a cold or flu. The biggest concern is for the elderly with underlying health concerns.
  • IDPH is working closely with the Governor’s office and has provided information to schools, health providers, EMT personnel, law enforcement, local health partners and more.
  • If Iowans become ill, they should call their doctor’s office and inform them of their recent travel before visiting the doctor’s office.
  • Children can be carriers, but the symptoms in children have been very mild.
  • Travel on mass transit (cruise ships, commercial airlines) should be postponed if possible.
  • The virus is believed to be spread between people in close contact with one another (within 6 feet).
  • The virus is spread via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person sneezes or coughs.
  • Iowans should prepare for COVID-19 in the same way they prepare for severe weather or other events that could disrupt the normal routine.
  • Prevention of COVID-19 is like that for other respiratory illnesses like the flu.
  • Helpline – Call 211. Available 24/7.
  • IDPH Website with COVID-19 Updates – https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Iss…/Novel-Coronavirus

Here is the most important thing to bear in mind: We have no instances of community spread in Iowa at this time. All but one case of COVID-19 in Iowa can be traced to a cruise in Egypt. In the other case, the person had just returned from California. No cases yet reported were from person to person spread in our communities. Should that occur, additional precautions can and will be taken. At this point, there is NO DATA in Iowa to support closing schools for extended periods of time or canceling local events.

At a dark time in our history, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt said that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself. This certainly applies to the current situation. COVID-19 is serious, however, overreaction and unnecessary closings and disruptions in our lives and communities can only lead to consequences that do not have to happen. Closing schools or other institutions without reason will only further complicate the situation for those who are critical in the containment and treatment of COVID-19, such as doctors and nurses with small children, who could be forced to stay home for lack of childcare. Let logic and reason prevail in Iowa, as we take reasonable precautions, and move forward. Let’s follow the data and take action accordingly.

I am honored to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email at [email protected]

Freedom Watch 3/5/2020

A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt

School Funding, Dog Tracking & Ban the Box

 

In week 8 of the 2020 Iowa Legislative session, the House and Senate agreed to a compromise on state aid to K-12 schools, while a number of important bills moved forward in the House, most of them with bi-partisan support.

State Aid to Schools –
Earlier in session, the House passed a 2.5% increase in funding for K-12 Schools, bringing the total increase for schools to over $100 million. The Senate passed a 2.1% increase, and this week both chambers compromised at 2.3%, which when combined with our transportation and per-pupil equity packages, will bring the total increase for K-12 schools to just over $99 million. This means that out of $235 million in new funding available for the coming fiscal year, we have committed almost $100 million to our K-12 schools.
Since 2011, investment in Iowa’s schools has grown to an all-time high of nearly $3.4 billion annually, an increase of almost $1 billion over the last decade. Funding for K12 schools accounts for nearly 43% of Iowa’s budget. Other initiatives recently enacted by Republicans give greater control to local schools in how they spend available funds.

Important Bills Moving –
HF2309 (Stopping Ban the Box & Upholding State Law) – I floor-managed this legislation to protect business owners’ right to know the criminal history of those applying for jobs. The city of Waterloo attempted to “ban the box” and prevent a business from having a check box on an employment form asking about criminal history. Waterloo’s actions were in defiance of existing state law. HF2309 mandates that cities and counties must pay reasonable attorney fees and costs if they are sued for violating this law and lose in court. This legislation passed the House and will now be considered by the Senate.

HF2455 (Tracking Wounded Deer) – This legislation allows Iowa to join numerous other states that allow hunters to track a wounded dear using a dog on a leash. I amended this bill on the floor to remove unnecessary time restrictions. Cody Friedrichsen from our District has worked for several years to get this done, and his effort is paying off. The legislation is now in the Senate for consideration.

Child Care Legislation – Numerous pieces of legislation to make childcare more accessible and affordable are under consideration by the House. I am encouraged by HF2424, a bill that removes the cliff effect and allows Iowans to ease off assistance instead of facing an immediate halt if they receive a promotion or raise. This encourages citizens to advance and better themselves, as opposed to the current system that fosters dependency.

Broadband – At least five bills are under consideration to expand broadband accessibility and speed in Iowa. Initiatives include grants and other economic development tools.

Health Care – Legislation is being considered to make prescription drug pricing more transparent; cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin; retain more health care professionals in Iowa; and telehealth expansion.

Voting Amendment – The House will soon consider an amendment to update the section of the Iowa Constitution that pertains to voting. Specifically, the amendment would update the voting age from 21 to 18 that was never been changed in our Constitution, allow those who will be 18 prior to the General Election to vote in the Primary, remove male references and replace with the term “the citizen,” and clarify that only citizens of the United States can vote in Iowa’s elections. This is an important amendment and is ready for floor action in the House.

Governor’s Tax & IWILL Proposal – Robust discussions continue on the Governor’s proposals to increase the sales tax a penny, fund IWILL, reduce property taxes by moving 70% of the cost of mental health to the state, and reduce income taxes. Overall, the Governor’s proposals reduce taxes, but I am concerned about increasing any tax. I do not believe we need to raise taxes to lower taxes.

I am honored to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me at [email protected]

 

 

Freedom Watch 2/27/2020

A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt

Moving Iowa Forward

Week 7 in the Iowa House was highly productive, with a number of positive bills passed to help keep Iowa moving forward.

Retaining Health Care Professionals in Iowa
House File 2383

Iowa faces a shortage of health care providers in many areas of the state. This includes primary care, specialty care, and mental health care. Easing this shortage and attracting health care providers, specifically to rural communities, has been one of House Republican’s top priorities over the last several sessions.

We can start to address a shortage of providers by keeping our best and brightest right here in the state. House File 2383 aims to do just that by requiring the University of Iowa Colleges of Medicine and Dentistry to prioritize Iowa students over out-of-state students. This legislation requires at least 75% of admitted students to be residents of Iowa or to have completed their undergrad here in the state.

House File 2383 will help Iowa retain health care professionals to practice here after graduation. Students with previous ties to the state are more likely to stay in Iowa, work in Iowa, pay taxes in Iowa, and raise their families in Iowa. There is no guarantee that students from New York or California will remain in the state following graduation.

The University of Iowa is a taxpayer-funded institution and exists to serve the State of Iowa and the citizens of Iowa. Sadly, House Democrats opposed this effort.

Protecting Free Speech – Reducing Frivolous Lawsuits
House File 2339

In 2017, the Carroll Times Herald published a story about a local police officer’s sexual relationship with a teenager and other previous questionable actions. This story ultimately led to the resignation of the police officer, who was under threat of termination. The ex-officer then sued the paper for libel.

The newspaper ultimately won the lawsuit but was forced to incur over  $100,000 in legal fees, simply for exposing the truth.

These types of lawsuits, known as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP), are intended to silence bad press and suppress free speech by dragging people through costly and lengthy court fights.

I found this to be completely unacceptable, so as Judiciary Chair I worked with the Iowa Attorney General to create House File 2339. It provides individuals with a new avenue to have frivolous SLAPP lawsuits reviewed by a judge in a timely manner, so they can be dismissed early in the legal process. This legislation ensures that freedom of speech is protected and that when someone’s bad actions or misdeeds are brought to light, they are held accountable. This legislation passed the House with all Republicans and Democrats in support and is now in the Senate for consideration.

Encouraging Youth Entrepreneurship
House File 2238

House Republicans are always looking for ways to unleash our small businesses and reduce the amount of burdensome and costly regulations that stifle growth.

One of the smallest of small businesses are lemonade stands run by neighborhood kids. Lemonade stands provide kids with great life lessons at an early age so they can learn important basic skills like real-world math, budgeting, and money management. Unfortunately, we have all seen the maddening news stories where a lemonade stand being run by the neighborhood kids have been shut down for not holding proper permits.

House File 2238 would prevent local governments from creating or enacting policies that crackdown on food stands run by minors. We should be encouraging our children’s entrepreneurial spirit, not crushing it.

Protecting the Second Amendment
HF2502

Since April 1990 Iowa code has dictated that Second Amendment issues are to be handled on the state level, in order to prevent a patchwork of different ordinances that would make it impossible for law-abiding citizens practicing their Second Amendment rights to know if they are legal or not as they travel about the state. Unfortunately, cities and counties have not always complied with state law.

HF2502 strengthens state authority over Second Amendment issues and adds protections for shooting ranges. With hundreds of Second Amendment advocates in attendance, I floor-managed and passed HF2502 on the floor of the Iowa House. All Republicans were in support, all Democrats opposed. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

I am honored to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042, or email me at [email protected]

Freedom Watch 2/21/2020

A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly 2020

Week 6 (1st Funnel Week) of the 2020 Legislative Session reminded me that while the legislation that moves forward is of great importance, it is equally important what Republicans do not allow to move on. We advanced good legislation this week to move our priorities forward, while at the same time killing bad & ugly bills from some Democrats that advanced socialism, attacked agriculture and assaulted Second Amendment rights at a truly distrubing level.

The Good: Advancing positive priorities for Iowa

  • Child Care – House Files 2041, 2083, 2171, 2175, 2270, 2271 and 2424 are all bills aimed at improving access and affordability for childcare. We are also looking to remove the “cliff effect,” which discourages citizens receiving childcare assistance from accepting promotions, more hours and pay raises. I will review these carefully and support those that I believe are an appropriate government function and will effectively achieve their goals.
  • K-12 Education – Sustainable funding that will keep our schools among the best in the nation remains a top Republican priority. House Republicans have passed legislation that will increase funding for K-12 schools by over $100 million. This builds upon our efforts to give local school boards far more control over how they spend their money and run their districts.
  • Affordable Health Care – While the state is limited on what we can do in this area since most of the control over health care rests with the federal government, House Republicans have been looking at ways to increase access and affordability of health care using free-market solutions, since socialized health care will only destroy our system. Committees have advanced legislation to provide more transparency, reduce the cost of prescription drugs, increase access to health services, and attract and retain more health care professionals. We also continue to work on mental health reforms. I remain focused on addressing issues with Medicaid Managed Care.
  • Rural EMS – We are moving legislation to strengthen rural Emergency Medical Services. Initiatives include establishing reliable funding and doubling the EMS tax credit to help attract qualified individuals.
  • High-Speed Internet – The Commerce Committee has passed multiple bills to improve internet access and bring faster internet speeds to rural communities.
  •  Protecting the Second Amendment – This week I advanced HF615, a bill to ensure that Second Amendment issues are regulated on a state level and not county to county or city to city. Known as preemption, this prevents a patchwork of different ordinances that would make it impossible for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights. This legislation also includes protections for gun ranges. Additionally, it mandates that if a political subdivision wishes to make a building or structure a gun-free zone, they must provide screening and security to ensure the safety of those denied their Second Amendment right of self-defense.

The Bad: Big Spending, Big Government, Big Disaster

  • Socialist Health Care – To ensure they are not outdone by AOC and Bernie Sanders, some House Democrats filed legislation to turn Iowa’s health care system into a government-run, socialist health care disaster. This legislation would have made employer-provided or union-negotiated private health insurance illegal. It would have also killed thousands of jobs in Iowa and resulted in either a bankrupt state or massive tax increases the likes of which the state has never seen. Thanks to House Republicans, these proposals are DEAD.
  • Assaulting Agriculture – Some House Democrats have filed legislation that smacks of The Green New Deal. These ideas would end farming as we know it with overly burdensome regulations, increased production costs and higher taxes on family farms. This was also killed by Republicans.

The Ugly: Attacking Law-Abiding Gun Owners – Numerous bills have been filed by Democrats to assault the Second Amendment rights of Iowans.

  • Confiscation – A bill has been filed by Democrats to confiscate commonly used firearms such as shotguns, hunting rifles, and pistols used for self-defense. Killed by Republicans.
  • Seizure without Due Process – A bill filed by Democrats would take firearms from law-abiding citizens without due process. Killed by Republicans.
  • Denying Permit to Carry – A bill filed by Democrats would allow Sheriffs to deny a request for a Permit to Carry without reason, walking back current law that mandates that sheriffs SHALL issue a Permit to Carry unless there is an established legal reason not to do so. Killed by Republicans.
  • Banning Magazines lawfully used by Iowans – A bill filed by Democrats bans magazines that hold over ten rounds and makes no exception for law enforcement. Killed by Republicans.
  • Banning what Democrats call “Semiautomatic Assault Weapons” – Here is one of the ugliest- HF 125 defines certain firearms as semiautomatic assault weapons based on what the weapon looks like, and prohibits their sale or transfer.  Some things that might make your firearm a “semiautomatic assault weapon” according to House Democrats include: Pistol grips; Threaded barrel (for legal suppressors); Folding telescoping or detachable stocks; & Shroud attached to the barrel (rails). The bill goes on to list many cosmetic features of rifles, pistols, and shotguns that would qualify them as “semiautomatic assault weapons.”  Because this is a made-up style of weapon, it would be difficult for law-abiding gun owners to know if their weapon falls into this category.  A person who sells or transfers any of these weapons would be guilty of a class “D” felony on a first offense and a class “C” felony for the second or subsequent offense. Killed by Republicans.
  • The unfortunate reality – Some House Democrats deliberately treat law-abiding gun owners worse than many sex offenders and child molesters, tagging them with prison time of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000 in the legislation they propose to make law. This is what Democrats would advance were they to gain control of the Iowa House in the coming election. Elections do indeed have consequences.

There are many issues that are bipartisan in Des Moines. However, there are also profound disagreements that must be pointed out, since the direction we choose could fundamentally change our state forever. I am proud to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042, or email me at [email protected]

Freedom Watch 2/13/2020

A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt

The Right to Life, and The Right to Protect It

In Week 5 of the 2020 Legislative Session, I moved legislation to protect the right to life with the Life Amendment, and the right to preserve life through stronger protections for our Second Amendment liberties.

On Wednesday, February 12th, the Life Amendment passed out of Judiciary on a party-line vote. This amendment is needed to respond to the judicial overreach of the Iowa Supreme Court when they struck down our 72-hour waiting period and created a fundamental right to abortion, subject to strict scrutiny, in the Iowa Constitution. This ruling, which led to a lower court striking down our protections for unborn children once the heartbeat is detected, could result in taxpayer-funded abortion and even abortion up until birth in Iowa.

The majority opinion that struck down our 72-hour waiting period used reasoning that challenges the very way our Republic functions. The Legislature makes laws and the Judiciary is supposed to interpret the law. Yet the Majority opinion stated that the Constitution should be interpreted not by what is written in it, but instead by the “current prevailing standards that mark the progress of a maturing society.” In rendering this ruling, they named themselves as the final arbiter in determining these standards. If this is the philosophy used to strike down laws passed by duly elected representatives of the people, while at the same time adding rights to the Constitution that are not there, without regard to what is actually written in our Constitution; then we are governed more by judges than by elected officials. This is the first reason we need the Life Amendment: to neutralize the judicial overreach of this ruling.

The second reason for the Life Amendment is that the strict scrutiny standard applied by the Iowa Supreme Court, which is the highest standard of judicial review, will likely result in all our protections for the unborn falling to court challenge. Our heartbeat protections have already fallen as a result of this ruling.  Our ban on abortions after 20 weeks could fall, as well as our prohibition against taxpayer-funded abortions. The minority opinion of Justices Mansfield and Waterman in the case that struck down our 72-hour waiting period warned of this when they wrote, “I wonder if the majority is laying groundwork instead, perhaps a stepping stone toward a ruling that Iowa’s Medicaid program must fund abortions.”

The Life Amendment passed on the Senate floor the day after passing through the House Judiciary Committee. I am hopeful that the House will also pass the amendment. Ultimately, if the amendment is approved in two General Assemblies, the people of Iowa will make the final decision.

From the right to life to the right to defend life through the protection of Second Amendment rights: this week I also moved HSB615 from sub-committee for consideration before the full Public Safety Committee. This bill would strengthen preemption by requiring that any political subdivision (city or county) that chooses to prohibit weapons in a building or structure must provide screening and armed security personnel to ensure the safety of citizens denied their Second Amendment rights. It would also strengthen protections for gun ranges that could be targeted for political reasons. Schools are not affected by this legislation.

Gun-free zones and signs prohibiting weapons have never stopped sick individuals from shooting innocent people. Gun-free zones stop law-abiding citizens from carrying weapons that could be used to stop mass shootings. It is not about the gun. It is about the character of the person holding the gun.  As we have seen recently in Texas, a gun can be used for evil, such as by the man that opened fire in a church, or a gun can be used for good, such as by a man in the same church that stopped the shooter and saved lives with one well-placed round from his weapon.

The process to enshrine 2nd Amendment rights in Iowa’s Constitution began last year under Republican leadership. The resolution must pass through one more General Assembly to be on the ballot for the people to decide in 2022. This amendment will help ensure that Iowa never becomes Virginia.

I am honored to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me at [email protected]

Freedom Watch 2/6/2020

A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt

Caucuses, Constitution, and Chips

Week 4 of the 2020 Legislative Session has been highlighted by Caucuses, the Constitution and Chips. Negotiations with the Senate continued on school funding levels, and the committee process that determines which pieces of legislation move forward was in full swing.

CAUCUSES
On Monday night February 3rd, Iowans across the state went to their caucus locations to take part in a great tradition that goes far beyond walking into a voting booth and marking a ballot. Iowans came together with friends and neighbors to discuss the issues of the day and convince each other which candidates were best suited to represent them. Despite the delays encountered by Democrats with their voting application, our caucus tradition should continue. The process of coming together as friends and neighbors, face to face to discuss candidates and issues is sorely needed in this age of impersonal technology that allows faceless attacks on social media. The caucuses must go on.

CONSTITUTION
This week I held sub-committee and moved the Life Amendment forward. This resolution launches the process to make Iowa’s Constitution neutral on the issue of abortion and is an essential response to the judicial overreach that placed a fundamental right to abortion, subject to strict scrutiny, in the Iowa Constitution. The Legislature makes laws and the Supreme Court’s constitutional role is to interpret law, not create it. This amendment is also essential to prevent late-term and taxpayer-funded abortion from being legalized by Iowa Courts. The minority opinion of Iowa Supreme Court Justices Mansfield and Waterman in the case that struck down our 72-hour waiting period is a clear warning of what is coming. In reference to the majority opinion, they stated, “I wonder if the majority is laying the groundwork instead, perhaps a stepping stone toward a ruling that Iowa’s Medicaid program must fund abortion.” It is for these compelling reasons that the Life Amendment must be given serious consideration in this legislative session.

(micro)CHIPS
Perhaps the most media interest this week revolved around legislation I put forward that would prevent businesses from mandating that employees must be microchipped as a condition of their employment. In Wisconsin in 2017, a company attempted to place microchips in their employees in order to save the money spent on employee ID cards and security badges. At that time a USA Today headline suggested that it was a matter of time before all Americans were microchipped. My legislation will not allow businesses to mandate or incentivize microchipping of employees. This issue involves a fundamental freedom that must be protected.

Upcoming Legislative Forums:
2/8/20 – Cronks in Denison – 10 a.m.
2/22/20 – Logan Community Center – 10 a.m.

I am honored to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042, or email me at [email protected].

 

Freedom Watch 1/30/2020

A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt

House Announces K-12 Education Funding Proposal

In week 3 of the 2020 legislative session, House Republicans announced a K-12 funding package for the 2020-21 school year that will provide schools with additional resources that they can depend on. Additionally, it takes into account many of the challenges that school boards and administrators have brought to lawmakers, and targets additional dollars to address these problems.

The plan offered by House Republicans will provide schools with an additional $108 million next school year, bringing total state investment in Iowa’s K-12 system to nearly $3.4 billion per year. This is slightly over a 2.5% increase in funding when compared to the current fiscal year.

The details of the plan include:

  • $94.7 million for Supplemental State Aid (SSA), building upon House Republicans’ strong commitment to K-12 schools over the last decade.
  • $7.25 million to reduce transportation costs for rural schools and ensure no school spends more than the statewide average. This will ensure that more dollars make their way into the classroom rather than being spent to bus students to and from school.
  • $5.8 million in equity funding to further reduce the cost per pupil gap by $10 per student. This continues to reduce the long-time inequity that has existed in the school funding formula since the 1970s.

The House plan provides the same amount of SSA as Governor Reynolds, while providing additional dollars for rural school transportation costs and per-pupil equity.

The K-12 proposal from House Republicans fits within the state budget and is sustainable going forward. House Republicans have made it a priority to follow through on the commitments that have been made to schools and will continue to do so this year. School funding has never been cut under Republican leadership.

House Republicans are well on track to setting school funding within 30 days so that school boards have time to plan their budgets for the upcoming school year.

Key figures:

  • $108 million – New dollars dedicated to K-12 for the 2020-21 school year
  • $3.4 billion – Total investment in K-12 per year
  • 2.3% – Midwest Consumer Price Index (inflation) over the last year

Continued Progress for Iowa Schools

This week, the Iowa Department of Education released the annual Condition of Education Report for 2019. Each year, the report provides a detailed analysis of where Iowa’s K-12 system is in regards to a number of metrics related to students, teachers, and staff.

The data shows that Iowa’s K-12 system is in great shape and getting even better.

More teachers in Iowa classrooms:
Since 2011, Iowa has added almost 3,500 new teachers to Iowa classrooms.

I am honored to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042, or email me at [email protected].

Freedom Watch 1/23/2020

A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt
Bills, Budgets, and Babies

Week 2 in the Iowa House has been busy and productive on a number of levels. Committee meetings and sub-committees on proposed legislation are being held. Appropriations committees have begun to evaluate the Governor’s budget requests. Discussions have begun on the Governor’s tax proposals. As Judiciary Chair, I am approving a number of bills for consideration, while stopping others that I do not believe are good public policy.  I am personally working on Second Amendment legislation to strengthen preemption and gun range protections in Iowa, and I introduced the Life Amendment in response to Iowa Supreme Court and lower court decisions that struck down our 72-hour waiting period and heartbeat protections.

  • In order for a bill to become a law, it must be cleared by a committee chair for consideration. A sub-committee is then held, normally consisting of three legislators. If the bill is approved by the sub-committee, it must then pass the full committee of which the sub-committee is a part. Then the bill must pass the full House, at which time it goes to the Senate for consideration. If it passes the Senate, it must then go to the Governor for her consideration. This time-consuming but proven process has begun on a number of bills in the 2020 legislative session.
  • The Justice Systems sub-appropriations committee, of which I am a member, met today to hear the Governor’s spending proposals for the Justice system. The Justice Systems budget includes funding for Public Safety, the Department of Corrections, State Public Defender, the Judiciary and the Attorney General’s office. This year I have identified a real need to increase funding for cybersecurity, our crime labs and forensic examiners, in order to help ensure the safety and security of all Iowans. I will provide additional details in future newsletters.
  • House Republicans have begun to carefully examine the Governor’s spending and tax proposals. The first thing we must determine, within 30 days of receiving the Governor’s budget requests, is funding for K-12 Education. The Governor has proposed nearly $100 million in increased funding for K-12 schools, which would mean over $900 million in additional funding for our schools in the last seven years. We must evaluate this request within the scope of all the state priorities that must be met, while balancing the budget and spending taxpayer money wisely.
  • The Judiciary Committee has been busy indeed, with a number of bills beginning the sub-committee process. Bills up for consideration in Judiciary and Public Safety include medical malpractice reforms; stopping drug paraphernalia expansion and illegal CBD sales; reforms to criminal fees and fines; reforms to Iowa’s CBD program, criminal justice reforms focused on reducing recidivism and improving prospects for successful reentry into society; and protection of 2nd Amendment liberties through strengthened preemption and range protections. This week I introduced the Life Amendment, the next step in the process to reverse the Iowa Supreme Court decision that created a fundamental right to abortion that could lead to taxpayer-funded abortion in Iowa. Unborn lives matter.

I am honored to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042, or email me at [email protected].

Freedom Watch 1/16/2020

A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt
Governor Announces Priorities

Week One of the 2020 Legislative session began Monday January 13th. This has proven to be an intense and productive week for me as Judiciary Chair, highlighted by one meeting after another, in 15-minute increments, from 8 a.m until 5 in the afternoon each day. This meeting schedule was thankfully interrupted by the Condition of the State, Judiciary and Guard addresses. In this week’s newsletter, I will highlight the priorities of the Governor, given in her address to the Legislature. Many of the Governor’s priorities closely mirror priorities I have discussed leading up to the start of the session.

  • Iowa’s Worker Shortage – Building on work done over the last several sessions with Future Ready Iowa and Last Dollar Scholarship initiatives, we need to take additional steps to attack the skills gap and other obstacles limiting the potential of our citizens and businesses.
  • Child Care – This is a major issue that contributes to Iowa’s workforce shortage. Removing the cliff effect in state childcare assistance, which encourages citizens not to take raises or promotions because they end up worse off financially, is an example of sensible change that will help childcare be more affordable while also encouraging citizens to realize their full potential.
  • Broadband – Continuing to find ways to expand reliable high-speed internet services to every part of our state.
  • K-12 School Funding – The Governor recommends a $103 million increase for K-12 schools, a 2.5% increase, in addition to an increase in transportation funding to address the inequity in rural areas. House Republicans will consider this in the bigger discussion of meeting all of our state’s priorities and spending taxpayer money wisely.
  • Invest in Iowa Act – The Governor proposes to reduce income tax rates on Iowans; create a sustainable funding source for recent mental health reforms; reduce property taxes, and fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust that was approved by Iowans in 2010. Under this plan, she proposes a penny increase in the sales tax. Overall, this would be a reduction in taxes for Iowans. I will be looking closely at the details in the days to come, but this proposal appears to meet my previously stated requirement that in order for me to support any sales tax increase, it must be part of a bigger package that reduces taxes on Iowans.
  • Protect Life Amendment – The Governor expressed her support for amending the Iowa Constitution, in light of the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision to place a fundamental right to abortion in the Iowa Constitution.  I deeply appreciate our Governor’s courageous stand for our unborn children. I will do all I can to get the Protect Life Amendment passed during this legislative session.

Upcoming Legislative Forums:

1/18/20 – Town & Country Credit Union Harlan 10 a.m.
1/25/20 – Logan Community Center 10 a.m.

I am thankful for my family’s love and patience as I serve away from home in the Iowa House. I am thankful to my staff, Amanda and Angie, for their incredible support. I am also deeply thankful and honored to serve as your State Representative. My email address is [email protected]. You can call me at 712-269-4042.

Freedom Watch 1/8/2020

A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt
Priorities for 2020

The second session of the 88th General Assembly begins Monday, January 13th and is scheduled to last 100 days. We head into the 2020 legislative session with one of the healthiest state budgets in the nation. Our reserve and emergency funds are full, and we have a healthy ending balance.  In this newsletter, I will identify House Republican priorities, my priorities as Judiciary Chair and personal priorities based upon the values I have campaigned on and conversations with constituents throughout the district.

House Republican Priorities:

  • Responsible, Balanced Budget –  Our healthy budget and financial outlook is a result of adhering to sound budget principles that include not using one-time money for on-going expenses, not purposefully underfunding programs to make the budget appear balanced and spending beneath the allowable level to help compensate for inaccurate revenue calculations.
  • Affordable Child Care – Making childcare affordable and available through appropriate government action is an important priority for our families and for economic development across all of Iowa.
  • Workforce Housing Shortage – We will work to build upon all the initiatives passed in the last few years to bring more affordable workforce housing to rural Iowa. This effort will include a careful evaluation of all existing programs to achieve the best possible result.
  • Tax Relief/IWILL – Discussions are ongoing on funding Iowa’s Water & Land Legacy (IWILL). This stems from an amendment passed by voters in 2010 that required that 3/8s of a penny of the next sales tax increase be devoted to funding water quality and quality of life programs in Iowa. We must decide if it is time to raise the sales tax to fund this program since a number of our citizens are encouraging its passage. A penny sales tax increase could be used to reduce property or income taxes. This would mean Iowans would pay less of the tax since visitors passing through Iowa would pay a percentage of a sales tax increase. I will only support a sales tax increase if it is coupled with tax reductions elsewhere and results in an overall reduction in taxes for Iowans. I will not support it if it results in new government programs beyond the scope of IWILL. To gain my support, it must result in a tax reduction overall.

Judiciary/Public Safety Priorities:

  • Stopping Drug Paraphernalia expansion in Iowa
  •  Education & Action Against Illegal CBD Stores – CBD products in Iowa are illegal, unless they are sold in one of the few approved dispensaries authorized in Iowa law. Unregulated CBD products are a public safety and consumer protection concern – testing of some of these products sold illegally in stores across Iowa has shown that some have no CBD in them at all and are being fraudulently advertised to consumers. Others were found to contain illegal quantities of THC, which is the component in marijuana that produces a high and can result in termination of employment if a worker tests positive in a urinalysis test. I would advise all Iowans to steer clear of these products and if you have a legitimate medical need for CBD, visit a doctor and follow the procedures prescribed in Iowa law in legally obtaining a fully tested and safe CBD product.
  • Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) Legislation – Lawsuits used to try and silence media outlets or individuals from exposing wrongdoing is a growing problem that recently impacted a newspaper in Carroll, Iowa. I have reached out to the Iowa Attorney General and he is assisting me in addressing this issue.
  • Asbestos Lawsuit Reforms – Attorneys are increasingly naming numerous businesses in asbestos lawsuits, instead of doing their due diligence in identifying where asbestos exposure actually took place. This is causing businesses to pay as much as $20,000 in legal fees just to prove their innocence. I will file legislation to stop abuse of the system.
  • Abortion Neutrality Amendment (Protect Life Amendment) – This should be a top priority for all Republicans in the 2020 session. In striking down our Heartbeat and 72 hour-waiting period laws, the Iowa Supreme Court created a fundamental right to abortion subject to strict scrutiny, giving rise to the possibility that Iowa could end up with the most liberal abortion laws in the nation. If this is not responded to, every protection currently in place could be struck down, with even taxpayer-funded abortion being mandated. The Protect Life Amendment would simply make Iowa’s Constitution silent on the issue of abortion and would allow Iowa to follow suit if restrictions to Roe V Wade are ever allowed on the federal level. I will do all I can to get this amendment passed in the House so that the process to amend our Constitution can begin. I will provide more detailed information in future emails.

Personal Priorities:
In addition to all the other priorities, I would offer these additional issues of importance:

  • Bottle Bill – We need to make this system work again for rural Iowa.
  • Managed Care – I have just been made aware of new problems with managed care organizations, cutting some payments in half in the middle of the contract year. This is completely unacceptable, as have been many of the actions that have taken place since the advent of managed care. I will push hard to fix these issues, wherever that path may lead.

My email address is [email protected]
Please contact me with ideas and concerns. I am proud to serve as your State Representative, and I ask for your prayers for all legislators as we work to uphold our founding values and make Iowa a better place for all our citizens.

Freedom Watch 5/2/19

A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt
End of Session Report

The 2019 session of the 88th General Assembly ended on Saturday, April 27th in the late afternoon. The session ended six days early, saving Iowa taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, and demonstrating once again why Iowa is consistently ranked as one of the best managed states in the nation. Our reserve and emergency funds are full, the budget is balanced, and we are predicted to have almost $300 million left in the checkbook, as the result of a carefully constructed conservative budget offered by the Governor and supported with only a few changes by the Legislature. Only 97.4% of ongoing revenue is spent in this budget, in contrast to years past in which state government spent up to the legal limit of 99%.  In this end of session report I will highlight some of the major accomplishments of the 2019 session.

  • Empowering Rural Iowa – Numerous pieces of legislation were advanced to help grow rural Iowa.  Empower Rural Iowa legislation will help expand broadband to underserved areas and provide additional funding to help address the housing shortage through the Workforce Housing Tax Incentive Program; Future Ready Iowa was fully funded and will help education come together with local employers to provide the skilled workforce we need to grow; and community colleges received a $6 million increase in funding, which is of great importance because the data shows that most graduates of community colleges stay in Iowa. Lt. Governor Gregg continues to lead a task force that will find new ways to make rural Iowa stronger.
  • Education – K12 Education received a $90 million increase in funding in the first 30 days of session, bringing the total investment in schools to $3.3 billion for the 2019-20 school year; the SAVE Penny was modified and extended to provide funding for critical school infrastructure while also increasing property tax relief to 30%; and additional funding was provided to address the transportation cost disparity between districts.
  • Public Safety – Our State Troopers received an increase to put more troopers on the road; our judicial system received additional funding; and plans are moving forward to build a new Law Enforcement Academy on Camp Dodge.
  •  Property Tax Relief & Transparency – To provide property taxpayers with more truth in taxation, House Republicans worked hard this session to bring more transparency to the local budgeting process that sets property tax. Additionally, House Republicans delivered $5.784 billion in property tax relief to Iowans by extending the SAVE penny through 2051 with an increased property tax relief component of 30%, a significant increase in relief compared to the current law.
  • Child Care Affordability – House Republicans doubled the income eligibility limit and expanded the Child Care Tax Credit to more families. This tax credit is targeted to middle class families to lower their tax burden and provide more opportunity for Iowans to join the workforce and grow our economy.
  • Children’s Mental Health – This session, legislators continued to build on the work done last year and made mental health a priority by focusing its attention on developing the framework of a children’s mental health system. This bipartisan plan ensures that in the future parents have a dedicated, local resource to turn to when they need to find mental health treatment for their child. We also gave more flexibility to mental health regions in the management of their resources. While this effort is needed, the ultimate answer in this area is to rebuild our families through the values rooted in faith. Only in this way can we make our families stronger, reduce substance abuse, broken homes and ultimately the need for mental health services.
  • Medicaid Sustainability – House Republicans continue to closely monitor Iowa’s managed care program to ensure that patients get the services they need, and providers are paid for their work in a timely manner. Included in the HHS budget is additional funding to right-size the program with rates based on 3 years of experience as well as a number of provisions that streamline the claims process and hold MCOs accountable to members and providers.  We will continue to work to make this system better for both providers and patients.
  • Prescription Drug Transparency – House Republicans addressed the high cost of prescription drugs by requiring more transparency from Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) in Iowa. Much more needs to be done to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, particularly on the federal level.
  • Rural Health Care – Additional funding was passed for Iowa’s 82 rural hospitals. These hospitals provide 24/7 access to care and are a major economic driver in Iowa’s rural communities. They must be supported.
  • Ag Protection – Agriculture is the backbone of our economy and that makes Iowa a potential target for bioterrorism and corporate espionage. In order to protect against these attacks, legislation was passed which is narrowly tailored to protect Iowa agriculture from bioterrorism and corporate or foreign espionage.
  • Guardianship/Conservatorship Code Changes – A key Judiciary priority, these changes will help better protect the most vulnerable among us.
  • Stopping Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Providers – Several Years ago, Republicans created an Iowa Family Planning Program and turned down federal dollars in order to stop taxpayer money going to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.  There was only one source of taxpayer funding still flowing to Planned Parenthood in Iowa, for the teaching of sex-education classes in a few Iowa school districts. Going forward, those sex education classes will not be taught by abortion providers in Iowa, as there are a myriad of other groups capable of teaching these classes that do not perform abortions.
  • Stopping Taxpayer Funding of Gender Reassignment Surgeries – Years ago under Democrat control, Gender Identity was placed in Iowa code as a “protected class.” Because of this, the Iowa Supreme Court recently ruled that absent further guidance in code, Iowa taxpayers would have to foot the bill for Gender Reassignment Surgery for Medicaid patients. The cost of these surgeries varies from $10,000 to over $100,000 and it was reported that hundreds of people were now awaiting these procedures at taxpayer expense. Republicans do not believe that taxpayers should pay for these surgeries, so we passed language in the Health & Human Services Budget to stop it.
  • Judicial Nomination Reform – A key priority of mine this legislative session, changes to our nominating process were made that will give the Governor one additional selection, subject to Senate appointment, to the State Nominating Commission. This will increase the voice of the people, through their elected Governor, in the process.  It will also give the Governor, be they Republican or Democrat, more say in the three nominees that are submitted for consideration. This is appropriate, given the huge responsibility placed on the Governor by the Constitution for selection of Supreme Court Justices. Additional changes include creating a two-year term for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to allow for more input by the Justices on the Court as to who their leadership will be, and changes to streamline the nominating process and use new technology to encourage more rural participation.
  • 2nd Amendment Rights in the Iowa Constitution – Republicans began the process to amend the Iowa Constitution to recognize the right to keep and bear arms as a fundamental right.  This must pass the 89th General Assembly before ultimately going before the voters in 2022.

While many other important pieces of legislation passed, I believe this list highlights most of the important things done on behalf of Iowans in the 2019 legislative session.  I will be door-knocking the district in late summer and fall, as well as attending county fairs, church picnics and other community events, in the hope of seeing and hearing from as many folks in the district as I can.

 Thank you for the honor to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me at[email protected].

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