Guth on the New Iowa Legislative Session

The beginning of a new session is always busy as subcommittees meet to test new ideas. The public is always welcome to committee meetings and are invited to comment at subcommittee. Before I was elected, I was not aware that every law we pass starts out in a subcommittee that welcomes public comments.

Since Republicans gained the majority in both Senate and House of Representatives two years ago we have been working to improve Iowa’s business climate. I am excited to see the fruit of that work when I hear Iowa has the lowest unemployment in the nation. With 1.65 million workers employed in Iowa, we now have more Iowans employed than any time in history.

One of the bills we are looking at in the Senate, SSB 1017, would allow a person with a permit to carry to pick up or deliver a child to a school while carrying his firearm. This applies only outside the building. It makes it much simpler for permit holders to keep from breaking the law unintentionally when they pick up their child at school.

One of the most disastrous actions of state government this year happened in the court when it should have been decided by the legislature. Back in July 2018, Iowa’s Supreme Court in a 5-2 opinion ruled that there is a “fundamental right to abortion” in the Iowa Constitution. This means that according to the judge’s interpretation, Iowa Constitution protects the right for a woman to abort her baby. Quoting both federal and Iowa Supreme Court rulings of recent years, Iowa’s Supreme Court judges declared they have “freed ourselves from the private views of the Constitution’s founders” and that the Constitution can now be interpreted according to “current prevailing [and] evolving standards.”

This thinking was used by district court last week to strike down Iowa’s ‘heartbeat law’ that protected life from the moment a fetal heartbeat can be detected. This outrageous action “would make any abortion restriction very difficult to sustain” according to Justice Mansfield in a dissenting opinion. This could even open the door to requiring Iowa taxpayers to fund abortions. I am very alarmed by this overstepping of judicial authority and I am researching legislative options to rein in the court. If the Constitution can be altered at the will of the court, none of us can be certain what the law will be in the future. Rather than the “Rule of Law”, this becomes the rule of the court.

This reminds me of Ben Franklin’s response to a lady in Philadelphia the day the Constitutional Convention ended in 1787. Knowing that the Convention was writing our founding document, she asked, “Have you given us a monarchy or a republic?” Old Ben replied, “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.” He knew keeping a republic in control of the people would be hard.

I invite you to visit the Capitol, to attend town hall meetings and to contact me at dennis.guth@legis.iowa.gov.