“A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.”
– President George Washington
On April 8th, 2021, President Joe Biden held a press conference relating to his proposed executive order on gun rights. You can read more about the proposed executive order here: Biden to unveil long-awaited executive action on guns.
There is a lot I can say here, but I am going to condense it down to a few very important points.
Most importantly, the Second Amendment gives you the right to protect yourself, and that is why the Second Amendment is so vitally important. An individual’s right to protect oneself, one’s family, and one’s property is a right. It is not luxury or a convenience, it is an absolute right. This is not about hunting or sportsmanship activities, although those are both also important. The Second Amendment is truly about your ability to protect yourself, your family, and your property.
Starting in 2017, House Republicans have continued to pass legislation to strengthen Iowan’s Second Amendment rights. This legislative session is no different. In January, the Iowa House and Senate approved an amendment to add the following language to the Constitution for the State of Iowa:
“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.”
In 2022, voters will have the option to vote to approve this language to be added to the Constitution of the State of Iowa.
In March, the Iowa House and Senate passed House File 756: An Act relating to the acquisition and possession of weapons, and makes numerous changes to Iowa’s existing weapons laws. This bill, not only guarantees the right for Iowan’s to buy and carry firearms without obtaining a permit, but also increases background checks, increases penalties for unlawful gun sales, and increases options for handgun safety training in the State of Iowa. Overall, these are really good things for both increasing and ensuring Iowan’s Second Amendment rights and the safety of all Iowans.
We absolutely do not want bad people with ill-intentioned motives to have firearms or be able to obtain firearms, nor would we ever dream to pass legislation that does so. This is why we have worked so hard to pass laws that protect the law-abiding citizens of Iowa. These are good bills for our district and for Iowa.
And the good news is:
House Republicans Increase Funding for Public Safety, Democrats Vote No
Iowa House Republicans have released their Justice Systems budget bill containing a substantial increase in funding for the Department of Corrections. The Iowa House’s budget allocates more than $20 million new dollars to the Department of Corrections, covering nine prisons and nine community-based correctional facilities.
This increase marks the biggest increase to the Department of Corrections’ budget since Fiscal Year 2012 when the department received an additional $19.3 million.
Other highlights of the bill include $9.4 million in new money for the Department of Public Safety. In addition, the bill allocates $2.5 million to the Public Safety Equipment Fund to ensure the Department of Public Safety has the most up-to-date equipment and can stay on top of equipment maintenance. The Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund also allocates $2.5 million to the Public Safety Equipment Fund, bringing the total to $5 million.
Democrats across the country, including here in Iowa, refused to condemn anti-police riots and the ensuing violence and property destruction that occurred last summer and fall. Left-wing political groups called for defunding local law enforcement. Iowa House Democrats appear to be continuing that effort by voting against this increase for public safety in Iowa. When Democrats threaten to defund the police, Iowans evidently need to take those threats seriously.
Important Health Care, Child Care Legislation Survive Legislative Deadline
Twenty-three bills from the House Human Resources committee survived the second funnel deadline. Below are some of the important bills that will help Iowans get access to affordable child care and health care.
SF 129 – Rural Iowa Primary Care Loan Repayment Program – This bill was brought forward by the Iowa Medical Society to expand access to the Rural Iowa Primary Care Loan Repayment Program by allowing OB/GYNs to participate, allow for additional part-time practice options for those receiving the loan repayment, and to allow psychiatrists to practice in additional Iowa communities.
HF 260 – Unregistered Childcare Homes Increase – This bill allows individuals providing child care in their homes to remain nonregistered with DHS if they increase from 5 or fewer children to a 6th child that is school-aged. At least 4 other states allow for 6 or fewer kids in unregulated child care homes: Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri.
HF 301 – Child Care Workforce Matching Grant Program – This bill creates a fund within Early Childhood Iowa to provide child care workforce grants on a dollar-for-dollar matching basis from communities. The communities can either utilize the WAGE$ program, T.E.A.C.H. program or other workforce initiatives. These programs are evidence-based strategies to help move child care providers up the education pathway towards degree completion.
HF 302 – Child Care Off-Ramp – This bill establishes a state-funded off-ramp program from Child Care Assistance that will gradually increase cost-sharing from families as they increase their income. This bill creates a state program for those families making between 185% and 225% FPL or 250% FPL if they have a special needs child. This state program would require additional cost-sharing from the families with it being capped out at 50% of the total cost of their children receiving child care assistance.
HF 431 – Audio-Only Telehealth – This bill allows health care professionals to utilize interactive audio-only communication (phone) with their patients as long as it is clinically appropriate and the patient has first been offered the opportunity to receive their health care service in-person or through video telehealth.
HF 488 – Government Access to Health Data – This bill prohibits the auditor from having access to names and residential addresses of those with reportable diseases, prohibits the collection of names by IDPH for hospital data, and prohibits government employees from accessing personally identifiable health information for a reportable disease if the employee does not have confidentiality training.
HF 528 – Dentist Vaccinations – This bill was brought forward by the Iowa Dental Board to allow dentists to administer the flu and COVID vaccines if they meet certain training requirements on vaccines and immunizations. Nineteen other states currently allow dentists to administer vaccines.
SF 463 – Occupational Therapist Licensure Compact – This bill allows occupational therapists and occupational therapist assistants to practice in all other compact member states through a compact privilege. The compact goes into effect when 10 states have joined the compact. Currently, Virginia is the only state to have passed this compact.
HF 468 – Iowa Residents at UI Medical and Dental Schools – This bill requires at least 75% of the students accepted to the University of Iowa College of Medicine and the College of Dentistry to be residents of Iowa or currently attending undergraduate school in Iowa. The bill also requires additional reporting by the University of Iowa and the hospital to track its dental and medical school graduates and medical residents following the completion of their training to see whether they are staying in Iowa following their state-funded training. The report will include additional information about the graduates prior to being admitted to school or residency. As amended by the Senate, the bill adds in HF 487 requiring UIHC to offer an interview for the medical residencies of the top 7 most-needed specialties to those with an Iowa connection.
HF 852 – Medical Residency Liability Costs – This bill allows hospitals or affiliated nonprofits with resident physician programs in Iowa to annually apply to IDPH to be reimbursed for the cost of the medical liability insurance premiums for their resident physicians.
HF 592 – Medical Malpractice Noneconomic Damages – This bill limits the total amount of noneconomic damages for a medical malpractice claim to be $1 million. There are three types of damages that a jury can award, and this bill only limits noneconomic damages.
Governor Signs Transportation Legislation
This week, Governor Reynolds signed the following bills into law:
HF 280 – Electronic CDL Renewal – This bill was brought forward by the Iowa Department of Transportation to allow for the electronic renewal of commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). The DOT allowed for the electronic renewal of CDLs during the public health emergency unless the person holds a hazardous materials endorsement. This bill allows for this efficiency for drivers and DOT staff to be made permanent.
HF 382 – Special Permits During National Emergency – This bill was brought forward by the Iowa DOT to allow the DOT to issue special permits to commercial motor carriers that cover all vehicles operated by that entity to deliver relief supplies that exceed weight limits during a federally declared major disaster. Currently, DOT is only allowed to issue vehicle-specific permits, rather than for the entire fleet (e.g. all Hy-Vee trucks).
HF 389 – Chauffeurs License – This bill eliminates the need for a Class D-2 (operators of truck tractors, road tractors, or motor trucks with a weight over 16,000 lbs) chauffeur’s license. Individuals operating those vehicles must already have a CDL. This bill also exempts all fire fighters and ambulance operators from needing a chauffeur’s license. Law previously only exempted those that volunteered.
SF 230 – Salvage Title – This bill increases the threshold for a vehicle to be considered salvaged from 50% to 70% of the fair market value of the vehicle.