– Week 14 –
This Week in the Senate
Coming off of a beautiful holiday weekend celebrating Easter, work began again on Monday for the Iowa Legislature. One of the tasks given to the Senate is the approval of the Governor’s appointments. This work began in committee meetings on Tuesday. The appointee names brought before committees included the directors of many departments and leaders of various boards and commissions. The appointments will now go to the Senate floor to debate their approval.
Health and Human Services Legislation
Senate File 324 is moving forward in the Senate as of this week. This bill invests in and dedicates funding for important initiatives, like the More Options for Maternal Support (MOMS) program. If enacted, the bill would allocate $2 million to the MOMS program to help pregnant women looking for help and resources, and would allow Iowa’s Health and Human Services department to award fatherhood engagement grants to nonprofits and community-based organizations that address the needs of fathers, whether it is employment, financial obligations, or parenting skills. The bill also establishes a state-funded fellowship program for family medicine and obstetric practitioners in rural and underserved areas. Additionally, it increases funding for families seeking adoptions and for expanded scholarship opportunities for Iowa children in foster care. SF 324 contains several proposals from the governor and it focuses on improving health care access in Iowa, and supporting expectant mothers and fathers.
Iowa Supreme Court Hears Case on Heartbeat Bill
Pro-life issues have been a priority for Senate Republicans for years. One of the first bills passed in 2017, after Republicans took the majority, was to ensure taxpayers were not funding clinics providing abortions. Another bill passed that year implemented a 72-hour waiting period before an abortion could be performed. In 2018, the legislature passed what was known as the “Heartbeat Bill.” The bill would ban abortions after a baby’s heartbeat could be heard, with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. However, the bill was held up by the courts and could not be enforced.
After the Heartbeat Bill was passed but before litigation had begun, the Iowa Supreme Court arbitrarily created a constitutional right to abortion in the Iowa Constitution. A district court judge then placed a permanent injunction on the Heartbeat Bill because of the decision by the Supreme Court regarding the 72-hour bill.
As we all know, last summer, the United States Supreme Court returned the right to make decisions on this important issue back to the states. The Iowa Supreme Court also overturned its previous decision that abortion was a constitutional right in the Iowa Constitution. Following these decisions, Governor Reynolds asked the Iowa Supreme Court to lift the injunction and reconsider the constitutionality of the Heartbeat Bill.
The Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments this week to lift the injunction on the Heartbeat Bill. While a decision is not expected for some time, prolife proponents like myself, are hopeful to see the injunction lifted, the Heartbeat Bill declared constitutional, and the lives of many unborn children saved.
Tax Day-April 18th
As Tax Day looms on the horizon, we are reminded of the work that the Iowa Legislature continues to do in moving historic tax relief legislation forward year after year. The goal has been to ensure Tax Day is less and less of a burden to hard-working Iowans and to also ensure more money would be kept in the pockets of the people who earned it. We are proud of the accomplishments we have had regarding taxes over the years and the positive impact this has had on Iowa families. Listed below are some of the milestones:
- 2018 – Passed first historic tax relief plan, prioritizing Iowa’s middle-class families, taking the first steps in simplifying Iowa’s tax code, and bringing down our state’s income tax rate
- 2019 – Passed legislation increasing transparency in the property tax process and made local governments more accountable to taxpayers
- 2021 – Passed tax relief for small businesses, eliminated the inheritance tax, and eliminated a property tax levy to help provide property tax relief for Iowa property taxpayers
- 2022 – Flattened Iowa’s income tax to 3.9 percent for all Iowans in a gradual process over the next few years and eliminated the tax on pensions and retirement income as of January 1, 2023, moving Iowa gradually from one of the highest income tax rates in the country to the fourth lowest.
I look forward to continuing the work to bring greater tax relief and ensuring that Iowans keep more of what they earn.
April 28 is the scheduled end date for the 2023 legislative session. The nicer weather has all of us itching to conclude session, especially our many full-time farmers in the Senate who are anxious to get this year’s crops in the ground. Still to be accomplished before we conclude, however, is a budget compromise and negotiating on the remaining topics for the year. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions about a bill you have heard about or a piece of legislation you have been following.