Next week is called funnel week. After Friday, February 21 any policy bill not passed through subcommittee and full committee in one chamber is dead for the year. There are always many more bills proposed than ever make it to the floor for debate. On Thursday, we had 45 subcommittees on the schedule before 3:30 PM, all ideas trying to make the deadline.
SF 2114 deals with making it easier for professionals from another state to get a license in Iowa. There are many different licenses issued, from barbering to engineering, doctors, accountants, and teachers. We are seeking a way to get people licensed in Iowa without lowering our standards. With the low unemployment in Iowa and the large demand for workers by Iowa businesses, it is important that we make the entrance to the Iowa workforce uncomplicated. It is also unfair to provide an artificially high hurdle to qualified people seeking to work here. I have a friend who was licensed in 30 states and it took him 2 years to get licensed in Iowa. This must change.
Thursday, we also passed SJR 2001 that states that there is no right to abortion in the Iowa Constitution. Over the last two years, there have been court decisions in Iowa claiming that the Iowa Constitution protects a right to abortion. Many Iowa judges did not agree with these rulings, including two supreme court justices. Five justices worked together to twist the Constitution to say what it does not say. The legislature decided this was so big of an overstep of judicial power, that we put forth a resolution for a constitutional amendment. SJR 2001 makes it clear that the constitution does not provide a right to abortion.
This resolution must pass both House and Senate in two separate General Assemblies with an election in between. Then it will be placed on the ballot for a vote of the people. At that point, the people of Iowa can decide if the Constitution of Iowa should be amended to say there is no right to abortion in the Constitution. It would not ban abortion but would mean that when the legislature passes a law dealing with the issue of abortion, the court could not overturn it. I look forward to seeing this resolution pass both chambers and be put before the people of Iowa.
I chaired the subcommittee on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). This bill would protect all people from being forced to violate their conscience. It is vital we respect each other without trying to invoke the force of government in preferring one point of view over another. This was understood when the U.S. House and Senate passed the same language with only two dissenting votes.
In 1997, President Clinton hailed the passage of RFRA saying, “It is high time we had open and honest reaffirmation of the role of American citizens of faith, not so that we can agree but so that we can argue and discourse and see the truth.”
To those that think religious freedom needs to be curtailed in order to protect certain classes of people, I repeat what Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”