Several important pieces of legislation began the journey to becoming law this week. Three of those are: an amendment to the Iowa Constitution that would stop the court from negating legislation on abortion, another is a bill that gives citizens more say in who is nominated for open judge seats and the third is funding for education.
SJR 9 is a constitutional amendment that makes it clear there is no right to abortion in the Iowa Constitution. It does not prohibit abortion; it just leaves that matter to the legislature. I sat in on the public hearing and thought it was interesting that the first testimony we heard claimed that an amendment should not protect the personal beliefs of legislators. The real purpose of the amendment is to offset the court ruling according to their personal viewsrather than ruling on the constitution as it is written. Our government was established so that only elected officials who are accountable to the public can make law.
Another bill introduced this week would reduce the power of lawyers in the process of selecting judges. Judges now are chosen by the governor from a list provided to her by a commission. That commission is made up of eight lawyers and eight citizens with the senior justice of the court as chair. Currently, the eight lawyers chosen are selected by the bar association. The new method would have the legislature pick the lawyers.
Why would the method for selecting these eight lawyers matter? It matters because lawyers have a different view on life than the rest of the public. Lawyers like litigation; the public for the most part dislikes litigation. Two studies of the political leanings of lawyers have confirmed that lawyers are much more left-leaning than the rest of the public.
Another study shows that states that have judges selected by lawyer commissions have much more left-leaning judiciaries. In fact, of all 50 states, Iowa was the second most left-leaning judiciary in the entire country. I favor having elected legislators appointing the lawyers on the selection commissions.
Funding for public schools passed its first hurdle in both the House and Senate this week. The Education Committee is providing $89.3 million of new money for K-12 schools. This includes 2.06% increase in state supplemental aid and an additional $7.8 million to use for the cost of transportation in schools with transportation costs above the state average. The best part of these bills to fund education is their broad support. There is no one registered against it and it passed the Senate appropriations committee without a dissenting vote.
We expect school funding to be debated on the floor of both chambers the week of Feb. 11, allowing us to get it signed into law within 30 days of the governor’s budget and in time for schools to finalize their budgets.
One more bill that came out of subcommittee this week deals with free speech on college campuses. The University of Iowa has had two separate cases brought against them for pushing faith-based organizations off their campus. These organizations chose to follow Biblical principles rather than administration approved policy. This bill will give the college guidance and allow more freedom of speech on campuses. I was pleased to see that all groups agreed on most of the bill, although some liberal organizations objected to one small section. I look forward to encouraging a variety of opinions on college campuses.
“America was founded on liberty and independence—not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and will stay free.” (President Trump, February 5, 2019 State of the Union address)
It is a privilege to serve you. Please feel free to contact me through email or my phone. I will be holding several forums in the upcoming weeks with Representatives Baxter and Gassman.
On Friday, February 15, I will be in Buffalo Center at 9 AM (Community Center), Lake Mills at 11 AM (Theater), and in Forest City at 1:30 PM (Waldorf University).
On Saturday, February 16, I will be in Algona at 10 AM (Library).
On Friday, March 1, I will be in Eagle Grove at 8 AM (Library), at Clarion at 10 AM (Train Depot), and at Belmond at 1PM (City Hall).
On Saturday, March 2, I will again be at Estherville at 9:30 AM during their Farm and Home show.
I will be in Hancock County on March 8 at multiple times and communities to be announced later. I plan on a second forum in Algona on March 16.