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Rep. Steven Holt

Rep. Steven Holt


Freedom Watch 03/04/24

A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt

The Iowa History Initiative: Why It Matters


I will never forget that moment in my high school history class as my teacher Mr. Elliott dramatically reenacted the historic moment. “We shall not die until we have killed ten of the enemy.” – so was the cry of the Japanese Commander, General Kuribayashi, to his thousands of hardened soldiers, about to engage United States Marines on Iwo Jima in 1945.

Mr. Elliott explained that when Marines landed on this volcanic island, they were unable to dig fox holes in the volcanic cinder and sustained horrific casualties. As he recounted that in 36 days of fighting, nearly 7,000 Marines were killed and that it was one of the bloodiest battles in Marine Corps history, I was swept up in the courage and fighting spirit of the Marines. Then, Mr. Elliott showed us the picture of the iconic flag raising on Mount Suribachi on February 23rd, 1945. In this picture I saw all that was noble and brave in the American character. A few days later, after seeing Sands of Iwo Jima with John Wayne on television, I joined the Marine Corps on my 18th birthday and spent 20 years serving. Thus is the power of American history, properly and truthfully taught, to inspire young people to become productive American citizens who understand the value of service.

Maybe it would not be a bad idea if our young people were taught in school a little bit about this epic battle for freedom. Maybe they should be taught about these sacrifices, about the fact that after Iwo Jima was captured it was used as an emergency airstrip that saved the lives of 24,000 airmen and prepared the way for the final battle in the Pacific – Okinawa. Could it inspire young people today to service, as it inspired me?

One of the flag raisers on Iwo Jima was Native American Ira Hayes. Johnny Cash wrote a song about him – “Call him drunken Ira Hayes, he won’t answer anymore, not the whiskey-drinking Indian – or the Marine that went to war.” What if students learned about his place in history? In his story alone they would learn about our national mistakes in the treatment of Native Americans, but also about the nobleness of our national character that led Ira Hayes to fight what some Native Americans did not believe was their war.

Ira Hayes, flag-raiser at Iwo Jima, rejected by his people for fighting in the war, became an alcoholic due to the wounds of war and the rejection of his people. After a night of heavy drinking, Ira Hayes died of alcohol poisoning and exposure to cold. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, not far from the Marine Corps War Memorial that depicts his heroic act as one of the flag raisers on Iwo Jima. In his story alone you can find the Good, the Bad and the Ugly in our history, and you can also discover the noble spirit of this nation that is being lost today.

I am in full support of HF2544, the Iowa History Initiative, because the things mandated to be taught are essential to understanding citizenship and the American character, the mistakes we have made, and the incredible sacrifices of those who have come before us as we strive to be a more perfect Union.

Today, there are many indicators that show we have forgotten that the most important aspect of public education is to teach good citizenship, and essential to understanding the responsibilities of citizenship, is to understand what western civilization stands for, what we stand for as Americans, what the fighting men and women of our country have died for since 1776, and in turn the responsibilities that come with being called an American.

We have become so focused on STEM and other issues as technology has rapidly advanced, that we have forgotten that if we do not teach what it means to be an American, we are at risk of losing everything, and we are seeing that play out in our nation in real time.

Many young people today can name off a litany of mistakes we have made as a nation, because that is what has been emphasized to them, but they cannot tell you who we fought in World War II, what happened on December 7th, 1941, they will have no idea about a place called Iwo Jima, they will know little about the Vietnam War, but they can tell you they believe that meritocracy is a part of white supremacy. They might be able to tell you about the horrific mistakes we made with slavery, but probably have no idea how many Americans died fighting the Civil War to end slavery, what the Emancipation Proclamation was about, or have in-depth knowledge about the great human experiment that is manifested in our Constitution.

Young people today are not nearly as proud of being an American as those who came before them because they have not been taught essential components of our history and our national character. They have learned from Chinese Communist Tik Tok, social media, movies, institutions of higher learning, and unfortunately some educators with an agenda that America is inherently racist and not worth fighting for, hence our military struggles to meet recruiting goals and defend the nation from the growing threats to our national security. We are more divided than we have been in my lifetime, partly because we are no longer teaching those essential principles that bound us together as a people and a nation. Once our national motto was E Pluribus Unum – out of many, one. We would be wise to take those words to heart in 2024.

I was taught many of these historical facts in school, but I also heard first-hand accounts from family members who were part of the Greatest Generation, who told me about their experiences in the war. I had an uncle on Iwo Jima, and while he would never talk about the war, it was obvious when I looked in his eyes that he had been through hell for this country, and I knew I had to be willing to do the same.  My generation learned many of the lessons of World War II and the horrors of Nazi Germany from those who lived it. This is why it is all the more essential, since this is no longer possible, that we mandate the contrast between our values and those of our adversaries, as well as the core characteristics essential to citizenship and the American character be taught in our schools. Thus, the importance of HF2544, the Iowa History Initiative.

Perhaps out of many, we can become one again. I am proud to have voted for the Iowa History Initiative.

I am honored to serve as the State Representative of District 12. Email me at

Upcoming Legislative Forums:
Saturday, March 9th, 10am:
Chamber & Development of Crawford County (109 N Main St, Denison)

Freedom Watch February 14, 2024

Reality Check: HF2256

As Chair of House Judiciary, I am called upon to determine whether bills assigned to my committee receive a sub-committee or not. There have been various bills advanced this session with the great intention of protecting unborn children. Some have come to my committee. Unfortunately, while well-meaning, some of these initiatives were not well thought out strategically nor were they well thought out in terms of the implications in practice of what they would actually do if enacted.

I would offer the following perspective to those who actually care about winning the fight for our unborn children.

First of all, many of you who have followed me in my years in office fighting for conservative values know that one of the main reasons I ran for office was to fight for unborn children. I voted for the original Heartbeat bill and also worked and voted for it the second time in Special Session. I also fought for and ran the Life Amendment successfully, working for weeks to come up with language acceptable in both chambers, but ultimately the determination after court rulings was not to move forward with it. I have been involved in every pro-life initiative and battle since I was first elected. We have gotten to where we are today by thinking strategically and I believe we must continue to do that if we are to achieve ultimate victory.

When our original heartbeat bill and 72-hour waiting period were struck down by the Courts, creating a fundamental right to abortion in the Iowa Constitution that had never existed before, I advanced the idea of passing a 24-hour waiting period as a way to force the court to revisit the issue. By that time, as a result of the Judicial Nomination Reforms that I floor-managed into law, numerous justices had been replaced on the Iowa Supreme Court with justices that were much more constructionist and conservative. The reforms I floor-managed fundamentally changed the make-up of the court. Because of these changes, I believed it possible we could get a different ruling.

I believed with the passage of a 24-hour waiting period that Planned Parenthood would sue (they did) and it would end up once again in front of a now much more constructionist Iowa Supreme Court. This strategic decision resulted in the Iowa Supreme Court striking down the previous Supreme Court decision that had created a fundamental right to abortion in the Iowa Constitution, a monumental triumph in the fight for the unborn. Around that same time, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v Wade. Unfortunately, the Iowa Supreme Court was ambiguous in their ruling, and they failed to allow the heartbeat bill to go into effect. So, we passed the Heartbeat bill once again in Special Session. I was one of the loud voices calling for a Special Session to pass the heartbeat bill. The court challenge is currently moving through the system, ultimately to be decided by the Iowa Supreme Court in the next year or so.

Earlier I mentioned the importance of being strategic. Many pro-life legal experts believe it is important that we wait for the Heartbeat decision before determining our next course of action, believing acting before that decision could be detrimental to our pro-life efforts and result in a very negative outcome. As difficult as it is, many in the pro-life community believe that we should wait for this court decision before taking our next step in the fight for life and I agree with them. It is also true that anything we pass will immediately be blocked in the courts, even as we await the Heartbeat decision, further complicating the legal landscape and accomplishing absolutely nothing in the fight for life.

I would also add that we have other legislation moving that breaks out some of these issues separately, making them less susceptible to court challenge. We have a fetal homicide bill that will make Iowa the 38th state to have such a law. We also have a wrongful death cause of action bill for the unborn. In both cases, life is recognized as being protectable at conception.

We are working with Alliance Defending Freedom and prolife groups from Iowa as we work to protect life in a way that best affords us the opportunity for success. If we pass a bill with too many concepts in it, or concepts that are ill-conceived or that reaches too far before we get a ruling from the Iowa Supreme Court on our Heartbeat bill, it could in fact result in a monumental legal setback.

It is inexplicable to me to have some on social media say that planning a course of action is somehow going against God’s will. That makes no sense to me. As a warrior in the Marine Corps, and now as a warrior for conservative values in the Iowa House, I must seek divine guidance through prayer, while also preparing the battlefield for success, based upon those prayers. To do otherwise will ensure failure, which is not acceptable. God gave me a brain for a reason.

Some pro-life advocates demand loudly on social media that I advance HF2256. Let’s talk about this horribly written legislation. I wonder if those advocating for this are aware that this legislation would allow mothers who abort their children to be prosecuted and jailed. This is something that no credible person in the pro-life community I have spoken to believes is acceptable. In fact, I have been advised that numerous pro-life groups across the country believe this to be a dangerous and horrible approach. A similar bill is being resisted in Louisiana that would prosecute mothers.  I will not advance such a proposal, and even if I did it would have zero chance to pass out of the Judiciary Committee or from either chamber in the Iowa Legislature, as it should be. Our effort has never been about going after mothers, but rather about protecting unborn children.

I have been told that there are individuals going into my legislative district to tell people that I do not support HF2256. I hope they do. I am not supporting this legislation, and will not, because it will set pro-life efforts back in Iowa in a profound way.

I have also been told in the last few days that incrementalism is evil and that we must simply go for Life at Conception. Nonsense. First of all, we do not have the votes at this time for Life at Conception due to the pending legal struggles over our Heartbeat legislation, and even if we did, such legislation would immediately be halted by lawsuits in the courts. As I said before, this leaves us in a worse position, not better. No more babies being saved, but a much more muddled legal landscape. As one pro-life constitutional attorney said in a discussion about our next steps forward, let us not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

If the Iowa Supreme Court allows our Heartbeat bill to go into effect, 90% of unborn children currently being aborted could be saved. If the court does not allow the Heartbeat bill to go into effect, they would of course also not allow more restrictive legislation to go into effect. Once the court has decided, we can determine where the next field of battle should be and execute accordingly.

HF2256 is deeply concerning in its implications. Mothers who abort their children need love and support, not jail time. They are victims of abortionists and the lies told to them. It has never been the goal of the pro-life community in the years I have fought for life to prosecute mothers, looking instead to provide counseling and love, considering these mothers to be as much a victim of the abortionists as the aborted child. I will not advance legislation that jails women who have an abortion, such as HF2256 would allow.

Consider this open letter to lawmakers from the Susan B Anthony Pro-Life America group, representing all of the major pro-life groups in America, dated May 22nd, 2022:

“Women are victims of abortion and require our compassion and support as well as ready access to counseling and social services in the days, weeks, months, and years following an abortion.

As national and state pro-life organizations, representing tens of millions of pro-life men, women, and children across the country, let us be clear: We state unequivocally that we do not support any measure seeking to criminalize or punish women and we stand firmly opposed to include such penalties in legislation.”

So yes, I oppose this HF2256 as does every major pro-life group in the country. We will not prosecute mothers in Iowa. As this newsletter is being written, Pulse Life Advocates has withdrawn their support from this legislation after realizing that it allows for the prosecution of mothers.

I will continue to use the brain that God gave me, and work with those in the pro-life community in advancing legislation that makes sense and will advance the fight for life. I will not advance horrific, poorly written legislation that goes after mothers, such as HF2256 does.

I am proud to serve as the State Representative of District 12. You can email me at

Freedom Watch February 9, 2024

Hardening Our Schools

We have just completed week five of the 2024 Legislative Session. It was a busy and productive week in the Iowa House. In this edition of Freedom Watch: School Safety.

I have been working with a number of other legislators for several years on ways to enhance school safety. The tragic shooting at Perry High School placed even greater urgency on making our schools as safe as possible.

House Republicans have been meeting with school administrators, law enforcement, teachers, and other stakeholders as we work to develop legislative solutions that will make our students and staff safer at school.

This week, we released two priority bills with numerous policies focused on increasing school safety. This is not an issue that can be solved with one master stroke, but rather is a complex challenge that requires an expansive approach. Therefore, we are tackling this issue with multiple initiatives.

House Study Bill 675 focuses on hardening our schools by placing highly qualified and trained personnel on site and ready to protect students in the event of an emergency. Provisions in this bill include:

·       Schools with an enrollment of over 8,000 students will be required to employ at least one school resource officer or a private security officer that meets training requirements. This bill also creates a grant program to match funds to help schools fund these positions.

·       Creates a new permit that allows a school employee to have a firearm once certain strict standards are met. The requirements for this permit are extensive and include one-time in-person legal training, annual medical training, and communication training. Further, it is mandated that the Department of Public Safety must implement required, annual live scenario training and quarterly live firearm training for permitted school employees. This program is entirely optional for schools and was created at the request of districts that have tried to implement similar programs to keep their children safe but needed state assistance to get it done.

We will also move a school safety bill that focuses on infrastructure. Provisions in this bill include:

·       Schools are required to complete a comprehensive review of their school safety and emergency response plans and submit this review to law enforcement before the 2024-2025 school year.

·       The creation of a fund to install radios capable of accessing the Statewide Interoperable Communications System in all school buildings that don’t currently have them. This radio system helped law enforcement coordinate their response to the shooting at Perry High School.

·       Implementation of a sophisticated firearm detection software program in three schools of different sizes through a pilot program. If successful, this program could be implemented in all of our schools, greatly enhancing school safety.

·       Establishment of a task force to recommend school safety standards in building code. Beginning in 2026, schools would then be required to meet established school safety standards arising from the task force recommendations, before using any SAVE funds on athletic facility projects.

The work continues on these important initiatives. House Republicans are focused on real solutions to making our students safer. With record amounts of money being spent on mental health initiatives, the reality is that we must fortify our schools and put highly trained armed personnel in place that can more quickly respond to an attack on innocent children and staff.

The data clearly shows that hard targets are attacked far less than soft targets. If our initiatives become law, our schools will no longer be soft targets for evil individuals to carry out attacks on our children and staff.

I am proud to serve as the State Representative of District 12. You can email me at


Freedom Watch January 31, 2024

A Discussion About Gender Identity as a Protected Class


I recently assigned a sub-committee to legislation offered by Rep. Jeff Shipley that would have removed gender identity as a protected class from Iowa code, while identifying gender dysphoria as a disability. While this legislation was not advanced in sub-committee due to questions that require further research, it was important to begin the conversation on the ever-increasing repercussions of having gender identity as a protected class in Iowa code.

As Chair of House Judiciary, I have, in the past, rejected the idea of removing gender identity as a protected class from code. I knew the reaction from some would be that such action would be a green light to hate and discriminate. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is not OK to hate, most particularly if the hate results in illegal action, and there are numerous places in Iowa code and in federal law that prohibit discrimination and violence against individuals, regardless of the reason. Removing gender identity as a protected class would in no way make it OK to hate. It is important to note that several dozen states do not have gender identity protections specifically in their code. Yet, in those states, it is still not okay to hate or discriminate against trans people.

Unfortunately, placing gender identity as a protected class in Iowa code years ago has resulted in numerous outcomes that those who supported it may not have envisioned at the time. It would seem that the original goal in the transgender community to “let me be me,” has had an additional goal added by militants within the movement: “Let me be me, and YOU MUST AGREE.” Civil rights protections intended to protect the transgender community are being used as a club to attack societal norms of decency and commonsense, rendering women’s rights invisible and silencing critics.

It is not OK to hate. It is also not OK that a young female community college student in Iowa was forced to feel uncomfortable and unsafe when a biological male, who identifies as female, stripped, and exposed himself in front of her in a women’s changing facility. It is not OK that when she expressed her concerns with this arrangement, she was told by the community college that she would have to find another place to change clothes. This situation was reported to me only a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, there are many other stories like it.

It is not OK to hate. It is also not OK when workers in Iowa are threatened with disciplinary action if they “misgender” someone or use the wrong pronoun, whether intentionally or not. With “gender fluidity” now demanded, this could literally change daily or weekly.

It is also not OK when people with firmly held religious beliefs are forced to use pronouns that do not match with the person’s biological sex. They risk disciplinary action and termination and could have to choose between their job and their religious beliefs.

It is not OK that militants in the transgender movement are going into our schools and recruiting our children, filling young minds with doubts and fears that are likely leading to increased mental health challenges. It is not ok that second grade students in a school district in Iowa were told they could choose to be a boy, a girl, both, neither or something else. This was done without the consent of parents, and is an example of the increasing militancy of some in the transgender movement,

These situations exist in part because gender identity is a protected class in the Iowa civil rights code. In numerous instances, this has been shown to be true as Republican legislators have struggled to protect women from militant transgender activism that tramples on their rights and erases the gains we have made for equality. As countless citizens report challenges in the workplace, unfair advantages in sporting events, and discomfort and fear in changing rooms, they are told that because gender identity is a protected class in Iowa code, their concerns don’t matter. This must change.

The number of stories like these that I hear have been steadily increasing. It is heartbreaking and inexcusable that men who have decided they are women are given preferential treatment over actual women, who are often belittled and bullied into silence. A perfect example of this is the treatment of Riley Gaines by transgender militants. Riley has been assaulted and held against her will by out-of-control militant mobs who seek to destroy anyone who disagrees with their alternate version of reality. This is not ok.

All of these heartbreaking situations have led me to the conclusion that we must have this discussion. The goal should be to ensure that everyone, including the transgender community, have their rights protected, but that we should not be fighting discrimination with more discrimination. Protecting the rights of the transgender community should not include forcing others to participate in their version of reality or displacing biological males or females from their own facilities. The insanity must stop.

We cannot shy away from these difficult discussions any longer. The militants in the transgender movement have relied on forcing dissenters into silence. Iowans who rely on logic and truth risk being called hateful, bigoted, or “transphobic” if they voice their thoughts or concerns out loud and could be threatened with legal action or workplace discipline.

The removal of gender identity as a protected class from Iowa code will not greenlight discrimination on the transgender community, as there are numerous other safeguards in place in both state and federal law. There are complex legal issues involved with removing a group from protected class status once they are already there, and there are federal mandates and challenges as well, but I believe that ultimately, we must overcome these obstacles. It will not be easy, but we must find a solution and take decisive action to protect the rights of those who are now adversely impacted by the transgender agenda. We must stand up for our daughters. We must stand up for truth.

I am honored to serve as the State Representative of District 12. You can email me at

Upcoming Forums:
Saturday February 3rd, 9:30am: The Farmacy Ida Grove


Freedom Watch 01/18/24

A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt

AEA Reforms: The Facts & The Falsehoods

AEA reforms announced by Governor Kim Reynolds during her Condition of the State Address have been a source of great debate and concern, and for good reason. The quality of our children’s education is at stake. In emails and interviews I have expressed the importance of getting this right, and I have been listening closely to the feedback of my school superintendents, AEA personnel, parents and others impacted by the manner in which essential educational services are delivered. As a member of the Education Committee, I also had the opportunity to speak to the Governor, her staff and the Director of the Department of Education, McKenzie Snow, at length on these proposals. In this edition of Freedom Watch, I will highlight what I have learned, why I believe that change for the better is necessary, and why we need to guard against the “don’t moved my cheese” mentality.

First, let’s start with why change is necessary. The unfortunate reality is that the current system is failing our special needs children. Iowa is spending more money per special needs student than the national average and our results are poorer. The Nation’s Report Card (NAEP) in 2017, 2019, and 2022, which is the best apples-to-apples comparison we have, ranked Iowa 30th in the nation or worse on nine of twelve assessments for our special needs children. The NAEP is the same assessment provided to a representative sample of students across all states using the same federal definition of students with disabilities. Additionally, the state assessment in 2023 showed a 41% proficiency gap for students with disabilities as compared to overall student results.

The United States Department of Education has recognized this problem and designated Iowa as “needs assistance.” If Iowa does not act, the Biden Administration could determine what changes are needed, along with all the federal intrusion and loss of control that would accompany such an outcome. Monitoring by the federal government is scheduled to begin this fall.

While many AEA personnel do a fantastic job helping our students, it is also true that AEAs have operated without meaningful oversight. Schools can’t hold them accountable because they do not control the money and the Iowa Department of Education can’t hold them accountable because it lacks both the resources and the authority. This needs to change.

Here is a fact to contemplate: Iowa is the ONLY state in the nation that requires all school districts to pay into AEAs and then use that same agency for special education services. Let us remember that this system has resulted in unacceptable scores for our special needs students. The status quo cannot continue.

Here are some additional facts to consider in the context of this conversation: AEAs employ six times more staff than the Department of Education and own at least fifty-four properties. The annual AEA budget is $529 million, with the average total compensation package for an AEA Chief totaling $309,667. For perspective, this is far more than the Head of the Department of Education, or the Governor of Iowa are paid. This does not pass the commonsense test, but it does help explain the reaction by some to the proposed changes.

Another interesting tidbit is that only 62.8% of AEA funds are focused on special education, with an estimated 19% overhead. I don’t know about you, but for me these facts cry out for greater oversight and the need for change.

In discussions with school superintendents, it has been acknowledged that compensation packages for AEA Chiefs are excessive and that creating efficiencies and better services for our children should be the priority. With the amendment to the Governor’s original proposal, I believe we are creating a system that will better serve our special needs students.

How will the Governor’s amended proposal improve the current AEA system? It will empower schools to have control over their special education and education services funds. If schools choose to continue to use their AEA they can do that. If they want to use a provider outside the AEA system or even bring services in house, they can do that. Other states have competition for many of these services while in Iowa there has largely been an AEA monopoly. It may take a bit of time for additional options to appear in some communities, but I can only conclude that this will improve services for our special needs students over time. Once again, I want to emphasize that if schools want to continue to use the AEAs as they currently do, they can do that, the ultimate local control.

Earlier I spoke about the fact that no one has any meaningful oversight over AEAs. The Governor’s proposal requires that all general supervision and oversight will shift to the Department of Education. Given the fact that the Department of Education is ultimately responsible anyway, it only makes sense to give them the authority and resources to do the job and provide oversight that is clearly needed. This approach could also improve educational outcomes.

Local control of funds by schools should allow schools to hold AEAs accountable for their performance and results. If the results do not satisfy the local school, they have the option of seeking services elsewhere, either from a different AEA, a private service, or by doing it themselves if they choose. This creates far more options than are currently available to provide the best services possible for our special needs students, which should help improve outcomes.

These changes should also result in less overhead and more accountability. There will be no new money required for Department of Education oversight; additionally, these changes would result in the elimination of exorbitant AEA Chief salaries.

I will continue to have discussions with local school officials on these proposals as we work to create a system to better serve our students and improve educational outcomes.

Finally, I want to address some of the absurd accusations I have heard regarding these proposals. I have heard this is being done to help “pay for school choice.” That is beyond ridiculous; one has nothing to do with the other. Thanks to fiscal responsibility by Republicans in Iowa, we are not in need of cutting services. Our reserve and emergency funds are full, and we have a strong budget surplus. Few states are in the positive financial position Iowa is in. The effort here is to address the failing results for our special needs students that cannot be denied.

I have also heard this is yet “another attack on public schools,” which is truly an inexplicable argument, given that these proposals give control over how special education services are delivered back to public schools in an effort to provide them more options to improve these educational outcomes. Additionally, legislation previously passed, such as school choice, was not about attacking public education, but rather about prioritizing students over systems to ensure that our children receive the best education possible in the setting that best works for them.

I was initially skeptical of these proposals, mainly because I knew that we had to get this absolutely right for our special needs students, and therefore a healthy dose of skepticism was in order. While I will continue to listen to the boots on the ground in education for their insight and ways to improve the proposals, certain facts are indisputable. We need to make changes to this system to improve the educational outcomes for our special needs students, and the proposed legislation as amended seeks to create accountability and provide more options for our schools in the delivery of services.

Yes, these proposals move the cheese, but sometimes moving the cheese is necessary for positive change. We should not be afraid of finding ways to do things better. In this case change, for the sake of our children, is essential. We simply cannot be satisfied with business as usual.

Tell me what you think. Email me at


Freedom Watch 01/11/24

A legislative update from Representative Steven Holt

Snow & Priorities

The second year of the 90th General Assembly began at 10am on Monday, January 8th. Mother Nature highlighted much of the week, with large amounts of snow and lousy road conditions. I am certain that road crews did all they could, but the snow was relentless. As is always the case, the first week is full of constitutionally required activities, including the Condition of the State, Judiciary and National Guard speeches. In this edition of Freedom Watch, I will highlight what the Governor’s priorities are, as stated in her Condition of the State Address.

Governor’s Priorities:

  • Government Efficiency – The Governor wants to reduce the number of boards and commissions to make government more efficient. A study was conducted, and recommendations have been made for these reductions. I will evaluate these recommendations carefully, which includes listening to the stakeholders and those who will be impacted by these changes, in determining my position.
  • Teacher Pay Raise – The Governor has recommended substantial raises for teachers and the creation of the Merit Teacher Incentive Fund. More details will be coming soon.
  • Literacy – The implementation of a standard, evidence-based literacy training program for teachers statewide to support reading proficiency by the third grade. The data clearly shows that literacy by the third grade is critical for future success.
  • Reforming Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs) to focus on improving the delivery of high-quality special education services and support for children and students with disabilities. The Governor proposes refocusing the AEAs on what was their original core mission when they were created. She also proposes greater flexibility for school districts in determining how they acquire these special education services. I understand the critical importance of the services that AEAs provide and will evaluate these proposals carefully. There has been limited oversight over AEAs since their creation in 1974, and with Iowa’s students with disabilities performing beneath the national average, a careful evaluation is appropriate and needed.
  • Recruiting the next generation of Iowa’s workforce through the creation of the Workforce Opportunity Fund to sustain work-based learning programs in our schools.
  • Taxes – The Governor proposes accelerating and further reducing the tax rate to 3.5% by 2025. Numerous tax cuts over the last few years have greatly reduced the tax burdens of Iowans, and this included elimination of taxes on retirement income. The House wants to reduce the tax burden on Iowans as much as possible, but it must be sustainable and allow the state to meet its obligations and priorities. These proposals will be carefully evaluated.
  • To support the health and well-being of Iowans, the Governor proposes to: establish a program called Thrive Iowa, to connect Iowans in need to resources leading to their long-term independence; align Iowa’s mental health regions to improve services and outcomes; invest Iowa’s opioid settlement funds in drug prevention, treatment and recovery; extend postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months; provide paid paternal leave for state employees, improve access to contraceptives; and protect minors from online pornography.
  • Strengthen Iowa’s laws regarding foreign ownership of land. Iowa already has strong laws preventing foreign ownership of agricultural land; the Governor proposes to enhance these protections even further.

The Governor’s priorities reflect her desire to continue to make state government more efficient and responsive to the people. The House will exercise its due diligence and evaluate each proposal while listening to those who will be impacted by the proposed changes.

In the next edition of Freedom Watch, I will provide an update on House priorities as well as my priorities as House Judiciary Chair. I am involved in a number of discussions on enhancing school safety. More to come on this critical issue.

I am honored to serve as the State Representative of District 12. You can email me at



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