Friday, May 7, 2021
Freedom Watch: A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt
Budgets & Taxes
This week, the Iowa Legislature went into overtime. We were supposed to have completed our work within 110 days, by May 1st. At that point, legislators were no longer being paid per-diem, a great system to help ensure we get done in a timely manner.
I believe that Republicans in the Legislature have acted boldly in moving forward with legislation to address our priorities – protection of unborn children, strong 2nd Amendment protections including the passage of Constitutional Carry, pushback against the “woke” crowd that seeks to silence and destroy all who disagree with them, prohibitions against Marxist-inspired Critical Race Theory being mandated to staff and taught to our children, restoring Iowans’ freedom and normalcy following government’s response to the Coronavirus, prohibitions against vaccine passports, supporting our brave law enforcement officers, increasing access to affordable childcare, holding sexual predators accountable, fighting human trafficking, and much more. The hold-up is on budgets and taxes, and House Republicans are working to find a compromise that will honor our commitments to reduce taxes and budget responsibly. In this week’s newsletter, I will highlight our proposal.
Iowa House Republicans are proposing this compromise following extensive negotiations with the Iowa Senate and Governor’s office. Iowans elected us to a 59-seat majority in part because of the disciplined, responsible approach to the state budget that they have come to expect from House Republicans, and that resulted in Iowa being named the best positioned state in the nation to deal with the financial consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic. We have proposed a plan that is fiscally sound, eases the tax burden on Iowans, and includes priorities of the House, Senate and Governor.
The Tax Changes and policy in this proposal Include:
- Removal of triggers from the 2018 tax reform bill which ensures income tax cuts go into effect Jan. 1, 2023, resulting in another great tax cut for hard-working Iowans
- Phaseout of the inheritance tax over 10 years
- Returning money in the Taxpayer Relief Fund ($450 million currently) to Iowans in the form of a credit on 2021 tax returns
- Increasing eligibility for the Child Care Tax Credit for families from $45k to $90k
- Increasing the percentage and raising the cap for the School Tuition Organization tax credit (STOs), leading to greater parental choice in education
- Exempting COVID-19 grant money and Paycheck Protection Plan loans from state income tax
- Requiring payment parity for mental health services provided via telehealth and in-person
- Increasing workforce housing tax credits to $30 million
- Increasing Volunteer Firefighter, EMS, and Peace Officer Tax Credit to $250
- Exempting food banks from Iowa Sales Tax
One of the sticking points is removal of the mental health levy from property taxes, with the state assuming the cost of mental health services. I support doing this, but it must be done carefully and correctly. There must be strong state oversight in place to ensure the state’s fiscal stability going forward is protected. In its current form, the Senate proposal for transferring the cost of mental health includes eliminating the local commercial property tax backfill to help pay for it, which is strongly opposed by our cities and counties. It also requires the state to take on a major financial obligation at the same time we are facing increasing Medicaid costs being handed to us by the federal government. I believe we can find a path forward, but our decisions must be carefully considered.
Now that we have a more accurate picture of revenue growth, we feel comfortable in removing the triggers and allowing the previously passed tax cuts to take place in 2023. The triggers are all but certain to be met anyway in 2022. We can now be more certain that this is a fiscally sound decision, but it must be taken in consideration with these other proposals before us that would increase spending on the state level. As previously mentioned, these include increased costs of Medicaid being forced on states by the federal government, and the proposal to remove the cost of mental health from property taxpayers and bring it to the state level.
We will continue discussion on getting the cost of mental health services off of property taxpayers in a responsible way. I am hopeful we are nearing agreement with the Senate and Governor that will be responsible, sustainable and fund Iowa’s priorities. Republicans in the House will stand strong for our priorities, which include substantial increases in funding for Public Safety, Corrections, and the Judicial system that are badly needed; creation of a Public Safety Equipment Fund to pay for the cost of essential public safety equipment for law enforcement; budgets that spend hard-earned taxpayer money wisely; and implementing previously passed tax cuts for hard-working Iowans.
There is important, unfinished business in addition to budgets and taxes, and I will discuss these in my next newsletter.
I am honored to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me at [email protected]
Thursday, May 1, 2021
Freedom Watch: A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt
No Vaccine Passports in Iowa
The 2021 Legislative Session is already notable for the strong legislation Republicans passed to advance the freedom and liberties of Iowans. Week 16 in the Iowa House adds to that list of accomplishments, with the advancement of legislation to ban vaccine passports in Iowa. In the first of two newsletters, I will publish in the next few days, I will highlight the passage of HF889 prohibiting vaccine passports in Iowa, as Republicans stand up for freedom and push back against the radical, freedom-assaulting agenda of the far-left.
I was honored to work with the Governor’s office, the Senate and fellow House members to craft HF889, legislation that when enacted will prohibit so-called vaccine passports in Iowa. The bill prohibits state and local governments from issuing identification cards or other materials that identify a citizen’s COVID-19 vaccination status. It prohibits businesses and government entities in Iowa, including K-12 schools and regent universities, from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of entry. Businesses or governmental entities that violate these provisions will be ineligible for state contracts or grants.
Health and long-term care facilities are exempted from the provisions of this bill. This exemption will not allow denial of care based on vaccination status (this is already illegal under current law), nor is it intended that it be used to deny entry into a facility, but rather to allow these facilities the flexibility to tailor their protocols upon entry in a way that protects patients, residents, and staff.
I held detailed discussions with a representative of the Iowa Healthcare Association to make legislative intent clear, and I have been assured that it is understood that our expectation is that their authority be used to set reasonable protocols for visitors and patients inside the facilities, not to deny entry. However, if abuse to this exemption does occur, we will revisit this issue and take decisive action as needed. We will protect the liberty of Iowans, while also recognizing the need to protect our most vulnerable population in healthcare and long-term care facilities. This is where principle meets common sense.
With the prohibition against any type of identification in Iowa that identifies COVID-19 vaccination status, it will be difficult for any entity to require proof of this vaccination. We will take additional action as needed to protect the right of Iowans to decide for themselves whether or not to take this vaccine.
HF889 passed the House with bipartisan support. It will soon be debated in the Senate and I am optimistic that it will be passed and sent to the Governor for her signature.
This legislative session has been remarkable in terms of what has been accomplished for liberty in Iowa:
* Adding 2nd Amendment Rights to the Iowa Constitution
* Constitutional Carry passed after a decade long effort
* Protecting Firearm & Ammunition manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits meant to destroy the 2nd Amendment
* The Protect Life Amendment
* Stopping Divisive Marxist Concepts from being forced on children, faculty, staff, and employees of our schools and government agencies
* Stopping Vaccine Passports
These are all pieces of liberty legislation that I successfully worked through the legislative process and floor-managed since the session began in January, with the help of many fantastic staff members and fellow legislators.
In addition to my efforts, Rep. Bobby Kaufmann successfully floor managed the strongest election integrity laws in the nation, with many states now following Iowa’s lead. Rep. Dustin Hite successfully floor-managed vital free speech protections for Iowa students and government employees, now being recognized nationally. Rep. Skyler Wheeler successfully floor managed Charter School legislation to give parents greater parental choice, as he continues to work for other initiatives to provide more choice in education. Rep. Jarad Klein floor-managed strong legislation to Back the Blue and reinforce the rule of law in Iowa. House Republicans are standing strong for freedom in Iowa.
There is always more to do, but this impressive list of liberty legislation shows that Iowa Republicans do not just talk the talk; we walk the walk and will continue to do so. Progressive big government control and assaults on fundamental liberty are not welcome in Iowa and will not be tolerated as long as Republicans remain in control.
I am honored to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me at [email protected]
UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE COFFEES: TBA
Thursday, April 15, 2021
A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt
House Republicans Stand with Law Enforcement, Reject Calls to Defund the Police
Thursday, April 8, 2021
Freedom Watch: A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt
Vaccine Passports, Decisive Leadership & Reasons for Optimism
Vaccine passports are un-American, unconstitutional, and unacceptable. No Iowan should be forced to get a vaccine in order to participate in normal life and exercise their most fundamental God-given rights. No Iowan should be forced to have a chemical injected into their body against their will, in order to be able to go to a grocery store, attend a baseball game or a movie, or travel freely in our country.
At the very core of our beliefs as Americans and Republicans is the right of free men and women to live their lives as they see fit, without the heavy hand of government dictating profoundly personal choices. Just as government prohibits employers and businesses from discriminating against Iowans based on race, gender, and other characteristics, so should government prohibit an emergency vaccine that has not passed normal protocols from being mandated as a condition of employment, travel, attendance at public events or normal participation in society. It should be up to each individual to decide for themselves if they want to take the vaccine. This is not an anti-vaccine position in any way, but rather about allowing each individual to decide for themselves what is best for them.
I am working with other legislators to codify prohibitions against vaccine passports as it relates to Covid-19.
A bold stand for freedom in Iowa will ensure that Iowans and our fellow Americans across the country know that we stand for liberty and will not allow this profoundly disturbing level of government control to take hold.
Governor Kim Reynolds has taken that bold stand. It is with deep appreciation that I thank the Governor for her strong leadership in announcing that she opposes vaccine passports.
While I have not agreed with all of her decisions as it relates to COVID-19, the buck stops with her and no one else. It is easy to Monday-morning quarterback when the decisions are not yours to make, and many from all sides have done a great deal of quarterbacking.
We all know that Governor Reynolds has been faced with making incredibly hard decisions, weighing the importance of liberty with the need for public safety. She alone had to make these decisions, and her actions have been amongst the most restrained in the nation. Because of her measured response, Iowa is in far better shape than other states to face the future with optimism. Our budgets are balanced, our reserve and emergency funds are full, our economy is growing, and we can move boldly on initiatives to make Iowa even more prosperous, such as the Governor’s initiative to bring high-speed internet to all parts of Iowa. We can afford the investment because of hard-working Iowans, because of the fiscal restraint shown by Iowa Republicans, and because of responsible budgets advanced by Governor Reynolds that spent below the legal requirements, thus enabling investment in internet infrastructure to move Iowa forward.
Iowa was one of the first states to reopen during the pandemic. We were one of the first to get our children back to in-person learning in school. Our economy is ranked the best in the nation in its ability to respond to the economic challenges that lie ahead. Iowa had amongst the least restrictive responses in the nation. All of this is thanks to Governor Kim Reynolds and the hard decisions she had to make.
While we may not agree with every decision, and while many have legitimate concerns about the scope of emergency powers and the consequences to liberty, since Governor Reynolds will not always be our Governor, we can be thankful that we did have Governor Reynolds at the helm, as opposed to so many others who would still have us in lockdown, oblivious and uncaring about the consequences to families, businesses and freedom. Governor Reynolds does care deeply, and the hard decisions she has made reflect that fact.
Balanced budgets. Growing economy, despite COVID and in contrast to many other states. The Freedom Amendment to add 2nd Amendment rights to the Iowa Constitution on the ballot in 2022. Constitutional Carry signed into law. Charter school expansion and continuing discussions on how to expand parental choice in education. Strong moves to protect free speech in our schools and stop Marxist indoctrination, hidden in Critical Race Theory, from being forced on our children. Legislation on the move to uphold the Rule of Law and support our law enforcement officers. The strongest voter integrity protections in the nation just signed into law. Ongoing discussions on how best to respond to big tech censorship. Continuing efforts to protect our unborn children. Promises made. Promises kept.
We have work to do and issues to resolve, but liberty and prosperity are on the march in Iowa, thanks to Republican leadership under Governor Reynolds.
In Iowa, we have reasons to be optimistic.
UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE COFFEES:
Thursday, March 25, 2021
Freedom Watch: A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt
The Case for Greater Parental Choice as Reports of Indoctrination Increase in Iowa
In Week 11 of the 2021 Legislative Session, House Republicans continued to hear the concerns of constituents to address the need for more parental choice in education. We have great school districts in our area, however, the decisions of some school boards, administrators and teachers have left parents with little if any options when it comes to having input into the education of their children. A number of parents in other parts of the state are unhappy with their public school system and feel that their voices and concerns have been ignored.
Legislation requiring all school districts to offer 100% in-person learning, and prohibiting racist and sexist concepts (Critical Race Theory) from being mandated in training or taught as fact without additional discussion in K-12 schools, have been passed in the House. The next step is offering additional options for Iowa families. Not all families wanting options are able to send their children to private school, and some communities do not have alternatives to the public school system. Public charter schools are an avenue to help provide more choice. Currently, the state of Iowa can form charter schools, with two successful charter schools currently operating. However, it is exceedingly difficult to start a charter school under current code. HF813 will increase the opportunity for additional charter schools to form in Iowa. Despite the claims of some Democrats, charter schools in this legislation are not private schools. The first line of the bill reads “Charter schools shall be part of the state’s program of public education.”
House Republicans want every student to have access to a quality education. HF813 will provide more educational opportunities to more students, particularly to those who need it most. Charter schools are not likely to be needed or created in our local area, but certainly could be a great option in larger urban areas of Iowa.
Specific rules and guidelines are mandated to ensure that charter schools adhere to public school guidelines in many areas, such as transparency, quality, oversight, and admittance, while at the same time creating flexibility that could be beneficial to certain students in need of alternatives.
Numerous mandates help ensure that community need and support are demonstrated. Additionally, charter schools would be required to admit all who apply, provide special education services, and adhere to Chapter 21 open meetings laws.
I believe that charter schools could provide an opportunity for greater parental choice in education in larger urban areas, and in districts in which school boards are ignoring parental concerns as it relates to the indoctrination of their children with divisive concepts that in some cases run contrary to deeply held religious beliefs.
How Do Parents Fight Back Locally Against Critical Race Theory in Schools?
SchoolhouseRights.org supports civil rights litigation in defense of students’ freedom of conscience in public education and the rights of parents to guide and direct the upbringing of their children.
The organization developed a guide for parents who are concerned about the infiltration of Critical Race Theory (CRT) into schools and classrooms across the country. The House approved House File 802 last week to stop the advance of these divisive and un-American concepts in Iowa schools without additional perspective and discussion. It is just a first step. Below is information provided by SchoolhouseRights.org:
CRT is a racist, sexist, and anti-religious ideology that sows mutual hostility between people of different backgrounds in the name of “social justice.” CRT often forces students to accept its derogatory labels and assumptions as part of mandatory K-12 curricula.
If you answer “yes” to the questions below your student may be entitled to relief under the First Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, Title VI, Title IX:
- Is the teacher or curriculum failing to present students with opposing points of view?
- Is the teacher or curriculum discouraging students from considering alternative points of view?
- Are students penalized or treated disrespectfully for expressing different points of view?
- Are the course and questionable assignments mandatory?
- Are students forced to affirm ideas they disagree with, unlearn beliefs, or abide by an ideology?
- Does the course forbid students from open disagreement or shut down open discussion when a student disagrees?
- Does the teacher label certain races, sexualities, sexual identities, genders, or religions as “oppressive, oppressors, privileged, or victims”?
- Are students forced to associate certain races, identities, or religions with oppression or privilege?
- Are the students forced to label or discuss their own race, sexuality, gender, or religion as part of a mandatory class or assignment?
- Did the district or teacher fail to notify parents of or allow parents access to highly controversial or sensitive material related to sexuality in the curriculum?
- Is the instruction or curriculum age-inappropriate, inflammatory, or disruptive to learning?
- Do the actions of the teacher or administration, or the content of the curriculum, create a hostile environment for the student with respect to race, gender, sexual identity, or religion?
Try to save written records related to the above “yes” answers, including homework or class assignments. Express concerns and objections in writing to teachers, staff, and administration. If concerns continue, contact an attorney.
Training/curriculum using these divisive concepts may create a hostile and toxic workplace. The US Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) defines a hostile or toxic work environment as one that involves “unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, national origins, age, disability, or genetic information,” That conduct “may include, but is not limited to offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name-calling, physical assaults, or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures and interference with work performance.
Calling out one racial group as privileged in official mandatory training sessions or in official institutional statements is just a euphemism for labeling that racial group as superior to another. It creates a workplace that is “intimidating, hostile or offensive to reasonable people,” which is not allowed according to the EEOC.
In the state of Iowa, The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners’ (BOEE) mission “is to establish and enforce rigorous standards for Iowa educational practitioners to effectively address the needs of students.”
- Parents and guardians of students can file complaints with the BOEE regarding potential violations of the Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics by licensed practitioners under the jurisdiction of the BOEE. According to the BOEE’s website, “To warrant investigation by Board staff, complaints must relate to an alleged violation of one or more rules in the Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics, which can be found in Chapter 25 of the Board’s administrative rules.” Those administrative rules include:
- 25.3(6) Standard VI—unethical practice toward other members of the profession, parents, students, and the community. Violation of this standard includes:
- Denying the student, without just cause, access to varying points of view.
- Deliberately suppressing or distorting subject matter for which the educator bears responsibility.
- Failing to make reasonable effort to protect the health and safety of the student or creating conditions harmful to student learning.
- Conducting professional business in such a way that the practitioner repeatedly exposes students or other practitioners to unnecessary embarrassment or disparagement.
- Engaging in any act of illegal discrimination, or otherwise denying a student or practitioner participation in the benefits of any program on the grounds of race, creed, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, marital status, or national origin.
- Failing to comply with federal, state, and local laws applicable to the fulfillment of professional obligations.
- Failure of an administrator to protect the safety of staff and students.
Thursday, March 18, 2021
A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt
Un-American Indoctrination & the 2nd Amendment
This week, I was honored to floor manage to passage in the House three of the most important bills we will do this session. In total, there were four pieces of legislation that passed this week that were of great importance in the fight to preserve the freedoms that we all enjoy. In this week’s edition of Freedom Watch, I will highlight these accomplishments.
Friday, March 12, 2021
A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt
Priorities of Iowans Moving Forward
Thursday, March 11, 2021
Ames School District: Ignorance & Denial
This week, as a result of several important issues that must be addressed, I will publish two newsletters. In this edition I will discuss the Ames School District’s appearance before the House Government Oversight Committee.
On Tuesday, March 9th, leaders from the Ames Community School District testified at the House Government Oversight Committee hearing concerning the district’s “Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action” curriculum. Representing the Ames School District were Dr. Jenny Risner (Superintendent), Dr. Anthony Jones (Director of Equity), Dr. Monic Behnken (School Board Member), and Dr. Jeff Hawkins (Director of Education).
Before the hearing, members of the Oversight Committee received numerous emails from concerned parents, teachers, and community members about the controversial classroom materials. On Friday, January 22nd, the school district published a link to an outside source with voluminous amounts of links to articles, graphs, coloring pages, and teaching materials from many sources for all grades K-12. The school district said it would be deriving its curriculum for the week based upon the “13 Guiding Principles” of Black Lives Matter that was posted on their website and teachers could use the posted link as a resource in the classroom. The school district then held a public meeting on Monday, January 25th for the parents to voice concerns before the week would begin on Monday, February 1st.
This timeline gave parents a single weekend to review this huge amount of material that would potentially be used to instruct their children. However, when the House Government Oversight Committee invited the school district to testify before the committee, district officials initially agreed, and then asked to reschedule their appearance, indicating they needed two weeks to be able to review their own documents before they could testify before the committee.
During the hearing, committee members raised concerns over the sources that were linked on the school’s website, some of which have since been edited and/or removed. District officials told committee members that the material on the website was not necessarily taught to the students. Dr. Risner acknowledged that more time should have been given to parents to review the information and that the communication about the source material and the posting of all of the information on the website created confusion.
Republican members of the committee received an 8-page list of vocabulary words that were handed out to a 4th-grade class. It included terms such as “androsexual,” “bicurious,” “biphobia,” “cisnormativity,” “hermaphrodite,” and many more. When specifically asked about terms on the list and the list in its entirety, district officials were unable to answer any questions; claiming they were unaware that it was being used in the classroom.
During the hearing, school district leadership repeatedly rejected statements from Republican legislators that there were parents and community members that raised concerns. Dr. Risner claimed that she only knew of three people that raised concerns at the public meeting, yet on the YouTube stream of the same meeting at least eight people spoke up with their concerns about the curriculum. Many of the emails sent to legislators, and that I received, indicated fear of repercussions for their children if they spoke out or opted their children out of the curriculum. District officials seemed unable to grasp the reality that community parents and teachers reached out to legislators instead of school officials out of fear of retaliation.
The Ames Community School District appears to have used public resources for blatantly political purposes, may have violated civil rights laws, dismissed concerns of many parents and teachers, and attempted to indoctrinate students by providing only one perspective as fact on highly controversial issues. Furthermore, when confronted with examples of their materials that were not age-appropriate, district officials claimed ignorance regarding certain information being distributed to students. They claimed to be unaware of a booklet distributed to an elementary school that had a cover picture with images to “Defund the Police” predominantly displayed, along with other controversial statements. Republican committee members heard from law enforcement parents and others on the pain and confusion these images and materials caused their children.
Why the Concern About the Black Lives Matter Curriculum in Ames?
The Black Lives Matter movement’s founders are Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi. In 2015, Cullors said of the three co-founders, “We are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on, sort of, ideological theories.” Schools once taught the reality that Marxism is explicitly anti-capitalism and advocates atheism. Republicans and Democrats were once united in their opposition to Marxism and the destructive concepts it embraces. Apparently, not anymore.
Here is a small sampling of curriculum material the Ames Community School District posted on their website:
The National Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action Starter Kit takes direct aim at the values of a colorblind society based on equality and tolerance by saying, “Relying on colorblind rhetoric around kindness and tolerance only perpetuates the issues at hand and does nothing to challenge structural racism and white supremacy.” The principles embraced in these teachings turn the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., upside down, by teaching to judge by skin color instead of character.
The Black Lives Matter organization is devoted to 13 Guiding Principles. Four of those principles are:
Empathy – one’s ability to connect with others by building relationships built on mutual trust and understanding. We engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.
Transgender Affirming – the commitment to continue to make space for our trans brothers and sisters by encouraging leadership and recognizing trans-antagonistic violence.
Queer Affirming – working towards a queer-affirming network where heteronormative thinking no longer exists.
Black Villages – the disruption of Western nuclear family dynamics and a return to the “collective village” that cares for each other.
The leaders of the Ames Community School District insisted that the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action was not about politics. This is ridiculous on its face; consider that one of the things distributed on its website was the Black Lives Matter National 2020 Voter Toolkit. The toolkit pushes:
- Promotion of “strategic political actions.”
- Overt left-wing political messages such as defining Voter ID requirements as part of “the long history of voter suppression in this country” and “racist political maneuverings.”
- Links to left-wing organizations/people like:
Zinn Education Project – Named after political scientist and left-wing activist Howard Zinn who is best known for writing “A People’s History of the United States” which he described as a biased account of history.
Ibram X. Kendi – Author of “How to be an Anti-Racist” and purveyor of Critical Race Theory.
Brennan Center for Justice – progressive public policy institute at NYU College of Law that promotes universal mail-in ballots and endorsed Pelosi’s 2021 “For the People” Act.
Color of Change – Online Racial Justice organization that “challenges racist and anti-progressive Trump administration and state policies” along with “ending voter intimidation and voter suppression policies, including Voter ID laws” and “building momentum for progressive tax, labor and education policies.”
A 216-page planner for the school year from the Education for Liberation Network called the Plan Book for Social Justice Educators was distributed to teachers in the district. The Education for Liberation Network is a national organization of teachers and activists who advocate for ideologies that support left-wing political agendas. The introduction to the planner says it is “packed with important social justice birthdays and historical events – especially those that may get left out of mainstream textbooks – as well as lesson plans and teaching resources, words of wisdom from visionary leaders, and more.” (p. 3)
Some of the teaching resources are:
- Nov. 26 – Thanksgiving (Day of Mourning) A Racial Justice Guide to Thanksgiving for Educators and Families and Rethinking Thanksgiving: Myths and Misgivings. Targeted to elementary students. (p. 143-144)
- March 21 – The White Supremacy and Me Workbook – A text and a process for those holding White privilege to examine and dismantle their complicity in White supremacy. Targeted to teachers. (p. 161)
- April 1 – How My Third Graders and I Address Consent – In the wake of #MeToo and the Kavanaugh hearings a teacher shares her strategies for addressing consent with elementary students. Targeted to elementary students. (p. 163)
- April 17 – Fidel in the Cuban Socialist Revolution – by Fidel Castro. A selection of speeches and television appearances by Fidel Castro during the first two years of the Cuban Revolution. Targeted to high school students. (p. 166)
- May 1 – Fighting for a Living Wage – A collection of links and resources related to organizing for the “Fight for $15” a national struggle to increase the minimum wage to $15. In the section titled, “Make the Fight for Living Wage a Teachable Moment” are lesson plans and multimedia resources related to the “Fight for $15”. Targeted to high school students.(p. 168)
- May 6 – The Body is Not an Apology – This book uses a framework of radical self-love to heal the wounds inflicted by violent systems such as patriarchy, White supremacy, and capitalism. Targeted to high school students. (p. 169)
- Two of the visionary leaders quoted in the planner are Cong. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cong. Ilhan Omar. (p. 5, p. 29)
It only gets worse. During the Oversight meeting on March 9th, officials from the Ames school district repeatedly said the material used was age and grade appropriate. I’ll let readers decide for themselves; listed below are terms from a vocabulary sheet of 89 LGBTQ+ supplied to 4th graders:
Androsexual/androphillic – adj. being primarily sexually attracted, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to men, males, and/or masculinity
Asexual – adj. experiencing little or no sexual attraction to others and/or has a lack of interest in sexual relationships/behavior. Asexuality exists on a continuum from people who experience no sexual attraction or have any desire for sex, to those who experience low levels, or sexual attraction only under specific conditions. Many of these places on the continuum have their own identity labels (such as demisexual). Sometimes abbreviated to “ace.”
Bigender – noun. A person who fluctuates between traditionally “woman” and “man” gender-based behavior and identities, identifying with both genders (or sometimes identifying with either man or woman, as well as a third, different gender).
Constellation – noun. A way to describe the arrangement or structure of a polyamorous relationship.
Gynesexual/gynephilic – adj. being primarily sexually, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to woman, females and/or feminity.
Sex Assigned at Birth (SAAB) – abbr. a phrase used to intentionally recognize a person’s assigned sex (not gender identity). Sometimes called “designated sex at birth” (DSAB) or “sex coercively assigned at birth” (SCAB), or specifically used as “assigned male at birth” (AMAB) or “assigned female at birth” (AFAB).
Skoliosexual – noun. Being primarily sexually, romantically and /or emotionally attracted to some genderqueer, transgender, transsexual, and/or non-binary people.
Spiritual Attraction – noun. A capacity that evokes the want to engage in intimate behavior based on one’s experience with, interpretation of, or belief in the supernatural (e.g. religious teachings, messages from a deity), experienced in varying degrees (from little-to-none, to intense). Often conflated with sexual attraction, romantic attraction or emotional attraction.
Stud – noun. Most commonly used to indicate a Black/African-American and/or Latina masculine lesbian/queer woman. Also known as ‘butch’ or ‘aggressive.’
Ze/zir – alternate pronouns that are gender neutral and preferred by trans people. They replace “he” and “she” and “his” and “hers” respectively. Alternatively, some people who are not comfortable/do not embrace he/she use the plural pronoun “they/their” as a gender-neutral singular pronoun.
It is hard to believe that these materials and ideas were actually shared in a school district in Iowa with very young children, but they were.
The actions of the Ames Community School District have prompted calls for greater parental choice in education by parents who will not tolerate the indoctrination of their children into a radical ideology they view as anti-American, divisive to society and a violation of their deeply held religious beliefs.
Hopefully, this week’s hearing will help provide needed sunlight on what the Ames school district plans in future curriculums. More importantly, it should alert parents across the state to monitor what their children are being taught. It should also be a wake-up call for citizens to get deeply involved in local school board elections and elect leaders who will not tolerate schools becoming indoctrination centers for the far-Left.
My thanks to caucus staff for their comprehensive work on this profoundly important issue. Legislation is coming to address some of what happened in Ames with the intent that this never happens again in any school district in Iowa, but citizen engagement is the best way to stop this.
Sunday, March 7, 2021
Week 8 – Covid Relief, Free Speech in School & Myth-Busting Background Checks
Week 8 of the 89th General Assembly saw movement on several important issues. In this edition of Freedom Watch, I will highlight Covid relief and efforts to protect free speech on our college campuses and public schools. In the Judiciary Committee review, we look at the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) system for purchasing firearms, and the disinformation campaign being waged by those who fear freedom more than they fear tyranny.
The Iowa House passed a COVID-19 relief package for Iowa taxpayers and businesses affected by COVID-19.
- It provides $128 million in tax relief to Iowans by exempting pandemic-related grants and unemployment benefits from state income tax.
- It will provide meaningful financial relief for Iowans hit hard by the pandemic.
- It was government that forced shutdowns which led to job and income loss. House Republicans believe that taxing pandemic relief money and growing government is not the right approach for Iowa.
- The funds to pay for this initiative will come from the Taxpayer Relief Fund, which currently has a $90.2 million balance. The additional funding needed will come from the ending balance.
- For information, the December 2020 Revenue Estimating Conference projected the FY 21 ending balance will be $443.4 million.
- The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
HSB 237 – Protecting Free Speech in Schools
Protecting the right to free speech at Iowa’s Regent Universities has been a top priority for House Republicans across many different committees. Republican legislators had numerous instances brought to their attention in which our universities violated students’ right to free speech. In each case it was conservative viewpoints that were being assaulted. I received several complaints from students from our area attending regent universities, that described a cancel culture participated in by both students and faculty that silenced dissenting voices and left conservative students fearful to speak out.
It is clear these are not isolated instances, but rather a systemic problem on college campuses and increasingly in K-12 schools. A school’s role is to educate, not indoctrinate students into a selected political ideology. This must stop, and House Republicans are advancing several pieces of legislation to do just that.
The Board of Regents put together recommendations for campuses to adopt to address this issue and protect free speech on college campuses. This is a good step and builds upon legislative initiatives passed a few years ago that directed protections for free speech.
With the help of a number of staff and fellow legislators, I had a bill drafted in the Judiciary Committee similar to those recommendations to ensure Regents and K-12 school districts take proper action. Highlights of the legislation include:
- Ensuring policies and procedures are put in place to protect First Amendment rights as well as reporting procedures and policies to address violations.
- New training requirements, restrictions and penalties for First Amendment violations.
This legislation has passed out of Judiciary Committee, but discussions are ongoing regarding improvements to be made before it comes to the floor for a full vote.
Judiciary Review & Myth-busting: Background Checks Remain in Place Under House Omnibus Firearms Bill
Since I introduced HSB254, those who fear the 2nd Amendment have been engaged in fearmongering and the spreading of false information. Let us start with the reality that 18 other states have constitutional carry and systems in place similar to the initiatives contained in HSB254. Despite this fact, Republicans are accused of eliminating background checks for firearms purchases.
A simple understanding of current law and the proposed changes in HSB254 shows accusations that Background Checks are eliminated to be inaccurate. This legislation simply allows Iowans to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights with less state government interference.
In current law, purchasing a firearm can be done several ways. A person wishing to buy a handgun or revolver must have a Permit to Purchase (also called Permit to Acquire), or a Permit to Carry. If an individual wants to own a handgun that will be kept in the home and not carried on the person, a Permit to Purchase is appropriate. If the handgun is to be carried on the person, then the Permit to Carry is required.
If someone wants to purchase a long gun (rifle or shotgun) they can either use their Permit to Purchase or they can go through a National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS). The Permit to Purchase and the Permit to Carry are issued by local sheriffs. These permits are good for five years, and during that time a person can use these permits to purchase firearms from federally licensed firearms dealers without the need for additional background checks. Training is not required to obtain a Permit to Purchase, and simple training is required on a one-time basis for obtaining a Permit to Carry. This training mostly focuses on laws regarding firearms and does not require live fire training.
If HSB254 becomes law, the permits will become optional. Iowans will not be required to have a Permit to Carry or a Permit to Purchase, but ALL laws restricting felons, domestic abusers, and those with mental health problems from having weapons remain unchanged. Instead of presenting a permit, Iowans will simply fill out the necessary paperwork and be run through the federal NICS background check, the same check required when getting a permit. If they are cleared by NICS the purchase will be complete. The background check, not permits, is the mechanism that would prevent the illegal purchase of firearms by those who cannot legally possess them.
In the case of private sales, current law requires that the person selling the firearm ask to see the permit of the buyer. Since the permits become optional under the new proposals, the new code language would state, “a person shall not transfer a firearm to another person if the person knows or reasonably should know that the other person is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm under Section 724.26 or federal law.” Additionally, a Class D felony is established for those who violate this provision.
Because of these changes, it is highly likely that more background checks, not less, will result. These revisions will also respect the constitutional rights of our citizens.
NICS is the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and is run by the FBI and ATF. It was created in 1993 and allows those with Federal Firearms Licenses (FFL), such as gun shop owners, pawnshop dealers, and retailers to determine if a person can legally buy or own a firearm.
NICS collects information from the FBI and state and local governments. An FFL cannot see the information, they are simply told a person is or is not eligible to own or purchase a firearm.
In 2019, NICS processed 8,177,732 background checks and there were an additional 20,192,018 users processed by the states under NICS. Data also shows that in 2019, it took, on average, less than one minute for NICS to approve or deny an applicant.
Myth-busted: Although changes are made to the operation of the system, Background Checks remain in place under HSB254. Replacing a Permit to Carry or a Permit to Purchase with a NICS check does not make Iowans any less safe and does not allow disqualified persons to have firearms. A NICS check is simply a different method to assure only law-abiding Iowans have firearms.
Who can and cannot have a firearm?
Given the level of disinformation by those who fear the freedom of their fellow citizens more than they do tyranny, it is worth repeating that the list of who can and cannot have a firearm does not change under HSB254. Those prohibited by state or federal law remain prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, persons convicted of felonies or domestic abuse, those who have abused drugs or alcohol, and persons with adjudicated mental health issues.
Thursday, February 18, 2021
Week 6 – From a Clerk’s Perspective
It is the policy of Representative Holt to engage his legislative clerk in preparing one of his newsletters each session, to provide insight from a clerk’s perspective. Last year because of COVID-19, I got away without accomplishing this task.
This job entails so much more than the obvious secretarial skills of managing emails, scheduling requests, and preparing documentation for committee meetings.
As a clerk with 9 years of legislative experience, I understand the “extras” that can’t be touted on a resume. I often think of the dotted line trail of “Billy” of “The Family Circus” when people ask me what it is like to be a clerk in the Iowa House. Billy tries to accomplish a simple task…with just a few distractions! Do a google search: dotted line trail of billy of family circus and you will see what I mean.
I thought it may be fun to chronicle one day for you to get the inside scoop…
Tuesday of this week:
In by 7:30 am. ABATE (A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education) is here and I hope to see old friends during their annual trek to the Capitol. Checked in with Rep. Holt to make sure he arrives to connect with constituents. He lets me know he is running behind…power is out in Denison and he is attending to those needing to keep safe and warm.
STICKY NOTE TO SELF: check with IUB Outage Reporting in case constituents need an update.
Rep. Holt arrives and launches into a lively discussion with an ABATE member. I take a picture and head back upstairs.
Thursday, February 11, 2021
Childcare, K-12 Funding in Week 5
Week 5 of the 89th General Assembly included advancing legislation to make childcare more affordable and accessible and passage of Supplemental State Aid for schools. In my duties as Judiciary Chair, I can report that numerous bills are on the move.
These six legislative initiatives address Iowa’s childcare shortage from multiple angles:
* HF 230 – Increases the income threshold for the Child Care Tax Credit from $45,000 to $90,000. This will allow more families the opportunity to take advantage of this tax credit program to help with the cost of childcare.
* HF 370– Creates an incentive for employers to provide child care for their employees by providing a tax credit of up to $150,000.
* HF 260 – Allows individuals providing childcare in their homes to take care of up to 6 children, an increase from 5. This will help with the shortage of childcare providers.
* HF 292 – Raises Iowa’s child care rates to the 50th percentile according to the Market Rate Survey. This will provide more money for daycare providers.
* HF 302 – Creates an “off-ramp” from the Child Care Assistance program so that parents can continue to grow in their careers without losing their child care assistance entirely. This incentivizes hard work and advancement.
* HF 301 – Creates a fund to provide child care workforce grants on a dollar-for-dollar matching basis from communities. These programs will help move childcare providers up the pay scale and education pathway.
The House reached agreement with the Senate for a 2.4% ($36.5 million) increase in Supplemental State Aid (SSA) for K-12 schools.
* A $10 State Cost Per Pupil increase to shrink the District Cost Per Pupil (DCPP) disparity that exists between districts is also included.
* $800,000 is also provided to help those rural districts that have high transportation costs compared to other districts.
* The House is also working on a $30 million supplemental package to help schools that had increased costs due to in-person learning COVID expenses. For the Districts that worked so hard to get their students back in the classroom, and incurred additional costs in the process, we want to make sure the state helps with those added expenses. It is early in the process and we have not yet reached agreement with the Senate on this supplemental package.
Multiple Judiciary Bills Moving Forward
The first funnel deadline is still several weeks away, but the Judiciary Committee has already advanced many bills to the Senate for their consideration.
* House Joint Resolution 5- Life Amendment
This constitutional amendment is a direct response to a state Supreme Court ruling that created a non-existent constitutional right to abortion. This amendment makes Iowa’s Constitution neutral on the issue of abortion.
* House File 199-Visitation and Parenting Time
Probably one of our simplest bills but one with a big impact. Current law uses the phrase “visitation” when discussing the time a child spends with their parent that does not have primary custody. This bill changes the phrase to “parenting time,” to better identify the importance of the parent-child relationship.
* House File 201-Sexually Motivated Extortion
HF 201 requires a person who is convicted of extortion to register as a sex offender if it is determined that the crime was sexually motivated. Additionally, the bill requires a sex offender who is required to register in another jurisdiction, but who lives in Iowa, to serve their time on their registry either under the convicting state or Iowa’s laws, whichever is longer. This prevents a sex offender from coming to Iowa for a shorter sentence on the registry.
* House File 232-Disorderly Conduct
HF 232 amends the definition of disorderly conduct. The Supreme Court previously struck down the disorderly conduct code and this amendment puts the code in compliance with the ruling.
* House File 233-Disclosure of Private Sexual Images
A person whose private intimate images are disclosed by another, without permission, may bring a civil lawsuit against the person who disclosed the image.
I am honored to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me at [email protected].
Thursday, February 4, 2021
Education, Free Speech & Justice for All
Week 4 of the 2021 Legislative session was another busy and productive week. The Governor’s Student First Act created a great deal of conversation, even though the Student First Scholarship Program is small in scope. The House Government Oversight Committee, of which I am a member, held a second hearing on the assault on free speech on our college campuses. As Chair of House Judiciary, I have advanced a number of consequential bills, including the Life Amendment, legislation to help in the fight against human trafficking, banning microchips, and many others. In this week’s newsletter, I will highlight the Panic Defense bill.
The Governor’s Student First Act
The scope of the Student First Scholarship Program in the Governor’s bill is targeted and narrow. It is available only for children in one of Iowa’s 34 public schools identified as not meeting performance standards. The scholarships would be awarded to families to spend on a variety of approved education expenses such as tuition and textbooks.
The Department of Management calculates the cost of the Student First Scholarship program at $1.1M to $2.7M and, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency (LSA), the program’s net cost is $200,000.
The Governor’s Education bill contains a number of different sections and initiatives. Section 1 (Student First Scholarship Program) is getting all the attention, but there are many aspects of the bill that must be evaluated. House Republicans will advance the good and remove what we determine we cannot support.
The Governor’s goal in advancing this legislation is to create greater choice for parents in their children’s education so that no student is trapped in a situation that is not what is best for them. I share this priority, as do my fellow Republicans. I am in total support of greater parental choice; the question is how best to get there.
There are valid concerns about taxpayer money being diverted from public to private schools. I am concerned that once private schools receive direct funding from the state and become dependent on it, the door could be opened to government intrusion and strings attached to that funding, leaving private schools with less autonomy. I am mindful that federal dollars come with many requirements, and at times these requirements have been about advancing a political agenda not supported by many Iowans. This proposal must be carefully evaluated, and the unintended consequences must be considered.
There are other ways to support our private schools, such as greater tax incentives for giving to School Tuition Organizations (STOs). We supported STOs with good legislation in the last session and there is more that can be done. Over the next few weeks, I will engage in many discussions on the best ways to help ensure that every Iowa student has access to the quality education they deserve, whether in the public or private school setting.
I do need to set the record straight as we have this education discussion. Unfortunately, as they do anytime we discuss ways to better educate our children, Democrats say we are trying to defund public schools. This is nonsense. Republicans are responsible for record-high education investments over the last decade. K-12 education funding has increased by almost a billion new dollars over the last 10 years. Education spending accounts for over 40% of the state budget. The last time education funding was actually cut, was when Democrats had the trifecta in 2010, as the chart below demonstrates.
Saturday, January 30, 2021
Freedom on the March, Week 3
Week 3 was a great week for Freedom in the Iowa House. For the right to life, we advanced the Life Amendment, which will help protect the abortion restrictions we currently have in place in Iowa. For the fundamental right to defend ourselves and those we love, we advanced the Freedom Amendment, to place strong protections on the right to keep and bear arms in our State Constitution. For greater parental choice, we passed HF229 to require schools to give parents the option of 100% in-person learning. House Republicans are also moving forward with initiatives to make rural Iowa stronger by increasing access to affordable childcare.
The Life Amendment
- In 2017 the Iowa Supreme Court went far beyond its purview and declared abortion a constitutional right in Iowa, effectively amending the Constitution by judicial fiat.
- The Court’s ruling threatens any reasonable restrictions currently in place on abortion, such as our restrictions on late-term abortions and taxpayer-funded abortions. Many who are pro-choice support the restrictions currently in place in Iowa.
- We cannot allow unelected, activist judges to re-write our Constitution. We have a process for amending the Constitution, and that process allows the people of Iowa to make the final decision.
- I am pro-life and I believe that life begins at conception. I supported the Heartbeat bill to restrict abortion after the heartbeat is detected, but contrary to what Democrats are saying, this amendment would not stop one abortion in Iowa. I wish it did, but it would only make the Iowa Constitution neutral on abortion and help protect our current abortion restrictions. Ultimately, the people of Iowa will have the final say once the Life Amendment is on the ballot. It is a necessary step in the fight to protect our precious unborn children. There are other bills moving that will advance the cause of protecting the unborn. We must never stop fighting for life.
The Freedom Amendment
- Iowa is one of only 6 states that currently has no language in its Constitution that protects the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.
- The Freedom Amendment explicitly protects the right to keep and bear arms and would prevent a future Legislature or overzealous Judiciary that is hostile to the 2nd Amendment from attacking this fundamental right.
- Democrats take issue with the “strict scrutiny” language in the amendment. They say this goes beyond what is granted in the US Constitution and threatens any measure taken to protect Iowans against gun violence. This is simply not true. The strict scrutiny standard requires the government to prove the law is narrowly tailored to further a “compelling government interest,” cutting down needless regulations that go too far and infringe on Iowans’ right to bear arms. The prohibition against felons owning firearms was upheld in Louisiana, which has strict scrutiny language because it was a narrowly tailored requirement in support of the compelling government interest of preventing felons from owning firearms. Reasonable regulations, such as preventing felons from possessing firearms and background checks are not in danger, despite the misinformation being produced by those who seek to have this right destroyed.
- 44 States currently have some sort of language protecting the right to keep & bear arms. Unfortunately, the wisdom born of experience tells us that in many of those states egregious gun-control laws that assault 2nd Amendment rights have been enacted and upheld. Hawaii adopted 2nd Amendment language in 1959 but they have severe gun control restrictions – no permits to carry firearms have been issued in years. Delaware adopted 2nd Amendment protections in 1987 and yet their “May Issue” permit system requires that applicants must publish their applications in large-circulation newspapers, have it notarized and submitted with completed questionnaires from at least 5 “respectable” citizens, whatever that means, along with passport photos and two sets of fingerprints. Illinois has recognized the right to keep & bear arms since 1970, yet their weak language resulted in a refusal to issue permits, which was declared unconstitutional and “Irrational” by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in 2012. These examples reflect why strict scrutiny language is needed.
- If there were changes in U.S. Supreme Court rulings or hostility from state politicians or courts to 2nd Amendment rights, Iowa would not currently have any state-level protections to fall back on. Passage of this amendment, with the strict scrutiny language, will be a strong firewall of protection.
- Numerous bills have been advanced by Democrats in the Iowa House who are hostile to the 2nd Amendment, demonstrating why this amendment is needed in our Constitution. Here are just a few: HF 65 (May Issue) Sponsored by Democrat Representative Bruce Hunter- Returns Iowa to a “May Issue” state instead of “Shall Issue,” giving control to Sheriffs over who gets a permit. This means if a Sheriff does not like the 2nd Amendment, the permit is denied, instead of the current system in which the permit must be issued unless there is a legal reason not to do so (felony conviction for example). Democrats supported making Iowa a “Shall Issue” state in 2010 but now they do not; HF 129 (Magazine Ban) Sponsored by Democrat Representatives Hunter, Olson, Wessel-Kroeschell, Wilburn (just elected Chair of the Iowa Democrat Party), Staed and Mascher – It bans anyone from owning, selling, or transferring any magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The law immediately criminalizes anyone who owns these commonly held magazines, including law enforcement. A majority of firearms owned by law-abiding Americans take a standard magazine that holds more than 10 rounds; HF 131 (“Assault Style” Weapons Ban) Sponsored by Democrat Representatives Hunter, Olson, Wessel-Kroeschell, Wilburn, Staed and Mascher – This bill bans weapons based solely on how they look under a totally made-up class of weapons. Anyone who buys or sells one is criminalized. There is no exception for law enforcement. These are just a few examples of attempts to incrementally destroy 2nd Amendment rights in Iowa.
- The Freedom Amendment will be on the ballot in 2022 for the people to decide.
Parental Choice in Education (HF229)
- This bill requires schools to present parents with the option of sending their children for 100% in-person learning, giving parents a choice and voice in their child’s education.
- Parents would choose which of the options the school provides.
- Our local school districts are already doing a great job with this. Unfortunately, in other parts of the state, this is not the case. Des Moines is the most horrific example in which leaders of the school district have played politics at the expense of their students and refused to offer 100% in-person learning.
- A recently released CDC study found that K-12 school in-person learning does not lead to increases in COVID-19 compared to areas that have online-only learning.
- Governor Reynolds signed HF229 into law on Friday, January 29th.
- Other initiatives to expand parental choice are also being explored.
- Republicans in the Iowa House advanced legislation in week 3 to address Iowa’s need to expand access to affordable, quality childcare.
- These bills are part of a legislative package brought forward by House Republicans to increase the childcare workforce, increase provider rates to maintain existing childcare facilities, provide incentives to develop new childcare facilities, and help hard-working families afford the high cost of childcare.
- Iowa was facing a childcare crisis before COVID-19 began and it has gotten worse.
- 81 Child Care Centers and 41 Child Care Development Homes have closed since March, making it even more difficult for parents to find affordable childcare for their family.
- Actions being taken by House Republicans:
- HSB3: Addresses the Child Care “cliff effect” by establishing a state-funded off-ramp from Child Care Assistance that will gradually increase cost-sharing from families as they increase their income. Status: Passed out of Human Resources Committee
- HSB2: Provides significant rate increases to childcare providers accepting Child Care Assistance. Status: Passed out of Human Resources Committee
- HF230: A bill to double the income eligibility for the childcare tax credit from $45,000 to $90,000. Status: Passed out of Ways and Means Committee
- HF6: A bill that aims to expand the childcare workforce in the state by creating a childcare workforce grants program to bring childcare workers to eligible communities. Status: Passed out of Human Resources Committee
- HSB7: Will increase access to childcare, particularly in rural areas, by allowing nonregistered childcare homes to increase by one school-aged child. Status: Passed out of Human Resources Committee.
- HF3: Allows the building of onsite daycare facilities or expansion of existing daycare facilities to qualify as projects under the high-quality jobs program, qualifying them for tax incentives or project completion assistance. Status: Passed out of Economic Growth Subcommittee
- HF2: Creates tax incentives for developers that construct childcare facilities. Status: Passed out of Economic Growth Subcommittee
Democrats have suggested that we should be focusing on COVID-19 relief instead of “guns and abortion.” This is truly disingenuous, as they are well aware, we can accomplish a myriad of initiatives at the same time. Of course, they do not want to discuss abortion and they will never discuss the reality that there are two beating hearts and two souls involved in abortion, with one being forever silenced. This issue is of profound importance, but Democrats are beholden to Planned Parenthood money and have become increasingly extreme on abortion, with some even supporting abortion up to the day of birth. When it comes to the 2nd Amendment, just like abortion, many Democrats have become increasingly hostile to it, and it is their actions on the state and federal level that have necessitated action to protect this fundamental right. Unfortunately, not one Democrat voted in favor of the Freedom Amendment, reflecting their hardening position to this fundamental right.
House Republicans have been prioritizing many pieces of legislation that will provide relief to Iowans during this difficult time. This includes legislation to get our kids back in school, expand access to quality and affordable childcare, liability protection for businesses so they can reopen, and many more. We will continue to move forward with the priorities we campaigned on and keep our promises to the people of Iowa, and as federal funds are used, we will evaluate the need for state assistance to help families and businesses impacted by Covid-19 and take action as needed.
I am honored to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me at [email protected].
Thursday, January 21, 2021
Great Things Happening, Week 2
Week 2 of the 89th General Assembly has been highly productive, as Republicans move forward with the priorities Iowans elected us to accomplish.
This Week’s Hot Topics
- Parental Choice in Education
This week, Representatives Landon and Gobble took the first step to ensure parental choice in education by introducing a bill that gives the decision-making power back to the parents when it comes to their child’s education.
The bill states that if a public school or an accredited nonpublic school offers both in-person and online learning instruction, the parents/guardians will determine which instruction method their child will use.
Why is this important?
- Parents need to have a greater voice in their children’s schooling. Right now, many parents do not feel they are being heard.
- Some schools, such as in our legislative district, have made great effort to provide in-person learning. But in some areas of the state, students are being trapped in situations that are not what is best for them.
- A recently released CDC study found that K-12 schools do not lead to increases in COVID-19 compared to areas that have online-only learning.
- One of the legislature’s top priorities will be to ensure that every family that wants 100% in-person learning can get it.
Education Savings Accounts (ESA’s) and Vouchers
- Republicans are committed to ensuring greater parental choice in education. How we achieve that can look many different ways. At this point, all options are on the table and we will be engaging in discussions on specific policy suggestions throughout the session.
On the Education subcommittee vote to eliminate diversity plans
- Diversity plans are inhibiting parental choice in education. Schools in a handful of districts can overrule a parent’s decision to enroll their child in another school by citing these diversity plans. Republicans are committed to ensuring parental choice in education and this is one step forward in achieving that.
- The Life Amendment
This week, I advanced out of the Judiciary Committee’s new language for a constitutional amendment to re-establish that no right to an abortion exists in the Iowa Constitution. The right to abortion in Iowa had always come from federal law until an activist Iowa Supreme Court effectively amended the Iowa Constitution and created that right out of thin air two years ago.
The Amendment reads, “To defend and protect unborn children, we the people of the State of Iowa declare that this Constitution does not recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion or require the public funding of abortion.”
This amendment would have to pass during this General Assembly and again in either 2023 or 2024 before it could appear on the ballot in 2024.
Why is this important?
- In 2017 the Iowa Supreme Court went far beyond its purview and declared abortion a constitutional right in Iowa.
- The Court’s ruling threatens any reasonable restrictions on abortion, such as restrictions on late-term abortions and taxpayer-funded abortions. Many who are pro-choice even support these restrictions.
- We cannot allow unelected judges to re-write our Constitution. We have a process for amending the Constitution, and that process allows the people of Iowa to have a say.
- The Freedom Amendment
This week, I will advance out of the Public Safety Committee a constitutional amendment to ensure Iowans’ right to keep and bear arms is protected in our State Constitution. The amendment was passed in 2019 and needs be passed during this General Assembly in order to be on the ballot for a public vote in 2022.
The Amendment reads, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes this right to be a fundamental individual right. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”
Why is this important?
- Iowa is one of only 6 states that currently has no language in its Constitution that protects the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.
- This amendment will help protect a fundamental, God-given right for Iowans and guard against any future Legislature or overzealous Judiciary that is hostile to the Second amendment.
- Iowa Continues to Distribute COVID Vaccine Statewide
This week, the House Human Resources Committee had a presentation from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) on the current and future status of COVID-19 vaccinations in Iowa.
Based on CDC guidance, Iowa has prioritized residents of long-term care and health care workers in Phase 1A distribution of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Residents of long-term care have been hit hardest by this virus and health care workers are essential to maintaining access to health care throughout this public health emergency. As of Monday, January 11, there have been 96,686 doses administered in Iowa.
IDPH is planning to expand the number of populations eligible for the vaccine once 60% to 70% of the health care workforce has been vaccinated statewide. At the committee meeting, IDPH announced that they believe that expansion to Phase 1B populations will begin around February 1. Much of the expansion to additional populations will depend on how much vaccine is allocated to Iowa from the CDC.
According to IDPH and the Infectious Disease Advisory Council, Phase 1B will be distributed to those Iowans that are 75 years and older or the following vulnerable populations:
- Individuals with disabilities living in home settings
- Correctional facility staff and individuals incarcerated
- Staff and residents of congregate settings (shelters, sober living homes, behavioral health treatment centers, detention centers. This does not include college dorms)
- Locations where public health data indicate outbreaks or clusters of disease among food, agriculture, distribution, and manufacturing workers
- PK-12 school staff, early childhood education, and childcare workers
- First responders
I am honored to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me at [email protected].
Thursday, January 14, 2021
89th General Assembly Year 1, Week 1
The 89th General Assembly is in full swing, and Iowa House Republicans hit the ground running, with a number of freedom initiatives moving forward. Governor Kim Reynolds gave the Condition of the State address, Harlan’s own Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court Susan Christensen reported on the condition of the Judiciary, and Major General Ben Corell, the 27th Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard reported on the readiness of the Iowa National Guard.
House Republicans are laser-focused on getting the people’s work done and fulfilling our campaign promises to work for more freedom and prosperity, and a more efficient and responsive government.
Initiatives Moving forward:
- Life Amendment- this resolution to amend Iowa’s Constitution would neutralize the egregious Iowa Supreme Court decision of two years ago that struck down our just passed 72 hour waiting period prior to an abortion, and instead created a fundamental right to abortion subject to the highest judicial scrutiny that had never before existed in Iowa’s Constitution. This judicial activism violates the role of the Judiciary in our system of government. The Life Amendment would make the Iowa Constitution once again neutral on abortion and return the authority for making law and amending the Constitution to where it belongs; with the elected representatives of the people and the people themselves. The Life Amendment must pass through two General Assemblies and go before the voters for their final decision. This is the first step in the process.
- Freedom Amendment- this resolution would place the right to keep and bear arms in the Iowa Constitution. Iowa is one of only six states that does not have fundamental Second Amendment rights in their constitutions. This resolution has already passed the 88th General Assembly. Once it passes this session, it will go before the voters for their final decision. If the federal government begins tampering with Second Amendment rights, this firewall in the state constitution could become profoundly important.
- Parental Choice in Education- greater parental choice in their children’s education is long overdue, and Republicans will act on this important priority in the months ahead.
- Growing Rural Iowa- stronger Internet, more affordable childcare and stronger community colleges are all components of growing rural Iowa that are on the House Republican agenda. One of the Governor’s initiatives that will be carefully examined is a large financial commitment to getting strong and reliable Internet to all parts of Iowa within four years.
- Backing the Blue- numerous initiatives will be advanced to support our men and women in law enforcement and reinforce the rule of law for the benefit of every citizen.
- Campus Free Speech- Violations of students’ free-speech rights are increasing on our Regent University campuses. This must stop. Nothing is off the table as we move forward with efforts to ensure that our regent universities allow students to be exposed to a universe of ideas, as opposed to being placed in an echo chamber of ideology that meets the approval of college professors and staff. Numerous initiatives are under consideration to address this profoundly important issue.
There are other important priorities and initiatives, and I will report on these in the weeks ahead.
Governor Reynolds, in her remarks, highlighted that while Iowa had a challenging 2020 stemming from severe weather events, drought, and the Coronavirus, our state remains strong and in great financial shape compared to most other states in the nation. Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen highlighted the importance of keeping families together and focusing on our children’s success, in one of the most well-received addresses of the week. Major General Ben Corell reported on the deployments and challenges facing our highly professional National Guard.
While the events unfolding in Washington DC are difficult to watch, in Iowa we are moving forward with strong, common-sense legislation that will increase prosperity and freedom for all of Iowa. In my six years serving in the Iowa House, I have never been more encouraged by the possibilities of what can be accomplished. We have an outstanding team in the Iowa House for the 89th General Assembly and we are just getting started.
I am honored to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712 – 269 – 4042 or email me at [email protected]
Thursday, January 7, 2021
Boiling Point for Patriots
It is important to try and understand what happened in Washington DC on January 6th.
Since the election of Barack Obama when the far-Left shifted into high gear to push their agenda, conservative American patriots have watched the fundamental values of our nation assaulted, and they have had enough. We are entering a new phase in the fight for America, as can be seen in the massive rally held in Washington DC, and the events that followed.
Conservatives have seen their faith mocked and their most fundamental rights threatened. They have been silenced on social media and seen fellow conservatives fired from jobs for simply having a differing viewpoint. They have seen our education system attack traditional American values and teach doctrine that divides us. They have been villainized by the media and the Left, called names, and most recently threatened with retaliation by far-left politicians for their support of President Trump.
Some Democrats have threatened Trump supporters with jail sentences and demanded that they “pay” for the crime of supporting the President. Democrats have talked about gun confiscation and silencing those who disagree with them. It should probably not surprise any of us, especially with the added pressure of lockdowns and assaults on individual liberty, that many Americans have had enough and feel they have nothing to lose because America itself is being lost.
In 2020, conservatives have witnessed and been victims of out-of-control government mandates resulting from the Coronavirus. Well-meaning or not, Democrat and some Republican leaders have shuttered their small businesses as large corporations grew richer, told them they could not go to church even as strip clubs and liquor stores remained open, tried to silence their right of dissent, issued inconsistent mandates that targeted small businesses in a negative way, forced them to be beholden to government for survival, and turned a deaf ear to their pleas to restore sanity and liberty. Why should anyone be surprised that frustration is finally boiling over?
Patriots have had enough of politicians who ask for their vote, but do nothing to address these issues. Patriots have also had enough of playing by the rules and double standards that hold them accountable while giving those on the Left a free pass. The most recent example is media reaction to the unrest in Washington DC following the Trump rally as opposed to months of rioting and destruction by ANTIFA and Black Lives Matter.
We will likely never know the extent that unconstitutional court decisions, ballot harvesting, and other irregularities had on the outcome of the presidential election. It is my sense that the election was won when Democrats, with the Coronavirus as cover, used court decisions to unconstitutionally alter election law in several states. That is why I have strongly supported investigations of election fraud. I have supported the President by sending his campaign money to fight legal battles. I supported the rally held in Washington DC and I supported the electoral objections as a way to try and get out the facts to the American people. I understand the frustration, but there is no justification and I do not support the actions of those, whether Antifa infiltrators or Trump supporters, who stormed Congress during the electoral certification process. Actions such as this will only hurt the search for truth and the struggle for our founding values. The testimony being given by Republicans to support the President’s case was halted when Congress was stormed. Just as it did when the peaceful protests resulting from the death of George Floyd were overshadowed by massive riots, so has the storming of Congress completely overshadowed the peaceful events that were held earlier in the day when hundreds of thousands of patriots stood and marched in support of the President’s efforts to ensure a free and fair election.
When I posted comments critical of the storming of Congress on January 6th, the typical response was, “Well, what has playing by the rules gotten us? We are losing the country and politicians are doing nothing to stop it.” As I stated earlier, this leads me to conclude we are entering a new phase in the fight for America, as frustration reaches new heights and previous norms are abandoned out of frustration and fear of what is happening to our country and way of life.
This moment must be a wake-up call to all who hold public office. Frustration with unresponsive government and assaults on fundamental American values is at a boiling point and conservative Americans believe that playing by the rules has gotten them nowhere. On both sides of the political spectrum, there is a profound loss of faith in the political system and in political leaders.
I do not have all the solutions, none of us do, but I do not believe the solution is to destroy the foundational underpinnings of our nation by resorting to violence. This can only lead to more violence, chaos and division, which is exactly what the America haters want.
I share the frustrations of those who feel America slipping away, but we must act in ways that will work, as opposed to simply helping the opposition. We must move forward in a way that is peaceful, bold and effective, and will preserve the Republic. Patriots must seek those answers together in the months to come.
Above all else, our Republic must be defended and preserved. There is no other acceptable option.
Thursday, January 5, 2021
In a previous newsletter I highlighted Public Safety and law enforcement priorities for the coming General Assembly, which begins this Monday, January 11th. In this week’s newsletter, I will highlight other priorities for the coming session.
- Greater Parental Choice in Education – Parents need a stronger voice in how their children are educated, particularly given the fact that some public schools are failing our children. While we have good schools in District 18, the need for greater parental choice statewide has become a top Republican priority in the coming session. I will consult with parents who seek greater parental control in education, as well as local superintendents and others with expertise in this area, as we move through the process of evaluating ideas and initiatives.
- 2nd Amendment Protections – Republicans will pass for a second time the proposed constitutional amendment placing the right to keep and bear arms in the Iowa Constitution, paving the way for the voters to decide in 2022. We will also advance other initiatives to protect 2nd Amendment rights.
- Life Amendment – Republicans will likely advance the Life Amendment, a resolution to neutralize the egregious Iowa Supreme Court decision of a few years ago that struck down our 72-hour waiting period and created a fundamental right to abortion in the Iowa Constitution that simply was not there. The Iowa Supreme Court amended our Constitution through judicial activism and engaged in mental gymnastics to do so. Dissenting justices warned this decision was paving the way for taxpayer-funded abortion up to birth in Iowa. The Life Amendment would simply make the Iowa Constitution neutral on abortion, leaving the legal authority for abortion in Iowa in federal law where it had always been prior to the court’s ruling.
- Making Rural Iowa Stronger – Greater internet access, more affordable childcare, strong community colleges, and addressing the workforce housing shortage are all initiatives to grow rural Iowa that we will continue to work on in the coming session.
- Balanced Budgets – Republicans in Iowa pass balanced, responsible budgets. Because of this, Iowa is ranked the best state in the nation to deal with the economic consequences of the Coronavirus. This year will be no exception; we will pass balanced and fiscally responsible budgets that address Iowa’s priorities.
- Bottle Bill – We must either get the Bottle Bill fixed by increasing the penny profit or get rid of the program altogether. I will work to make the Recycling Program work again by increasing the penny profit for recyclers.
- Human Trafficking – Continued efforts to stop this horror once and for all.
- Executive Branch Emergency Powers – In several states, we have seen staggering abuse of executive authority in reaction to the Coronavirus, with our most fundamental rights denied by the stroke of a pen. Across the nation we have seen churches closed while strip clubs and liquor stores remained open; small businesses decimated as the large chain stores remained open and grew richer; mom and pop bars and restaurants closed while casinos remained open; and professional, college and high school sports allowed to continue while other sports were halted. Many of the inconsistencies in the implementation of these rules lack a rational medical explanation. The possibility of extreme misuse of such far-reaching power shows us that we must examine executive branch emergency powers and make changes as needed.
- Coronavirus Assistance – Government decisions that forced reliance on government for survival means that government now has the moral obligation to help citizens and small businesses impacted by these decisions. While much of this help will come from the federal government, some may come from the state as well.
During the 89th General Assembly I will be serving on the Public Safety Committee, Appropriations, Government Oversight, and as Chair of Judiciary. I am honored to serve as your State Representative and I am eager to get started on Monday, January 11th. You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me at [email protected].
Your prayers are appreciated as we work through the challenges that await us.