Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
To the people of House District 95
State Rep. Taylor Collins
May. 9, 2023 10:32 am
With a motion for Sine Die - the 2023 session of the 90th General Assembly has officially adjourned. 'Sine Die' is a Latin phrase that simply means to adjourn with no appointed date for resumption. Yesterday afternoon at around 12:07 p.m., the House did just that and adjourned for the year.
2023 Legislative Session Top Accomplishments
I will get into more detail below, but some of our top accomplishments this legislative session were:
•Delivered $100 million in property tax relief, including new exemptions for Iowa seniors and veterans.
•Empowered teachers with additional tools to address students’ behavioral issues in the classroom.
•Prohibited gender reassignment surgeries and hormone therapies on Iowa children under the age of 18.
•Increased the efficiency of state government by shrinking state agencies from 37 to 16.
•Prohibited sexually explicit books from school libraries.
•Prohibited curriculum on gender identity and sexual orientation from being taught in K-6th grade.
•Made sure schools can’t keep secrets from parents about their child’s gender identity.
•Eliminated needless regulations preventing Iowa teenagers from being able to work jobs allowing them to learn valuable life lessons, save for their futures, and explore possible career paths.
•Reformed the Board of Educational Examiners to ensure the system is holding bad actors accountable and that parents are represented on the board.
•Reigned in the divisive and misleading DEI bureaucracies at Regent Universities that are misusing taxpayer funds to silence conservative voices and impose ideological conformity on campus.
•Protected access to health care by capping noneconomic damages awards that have been increasing exponentially.
• Expanded access to health care, particularly in rural Iowa, by increasing funding for mental health care and maternal support programs, and creating a midwifery and rural emergency hospital licensures.
•Created new Iowa Workforce Grant and Incentive Program to fund scholarships for Iowa students studying to fill high-need jobs in the state.
Senate File 496 – Parent Empowerment
•The House passed a package of education reforms to empower parents, sending the bill to the Governor’s desk.
•Here are a number of the biggest pieces contained in the final bill:
•Ensures all books in schools are “age-appropriate.”
•It explicitly states that age appropriate books do not include books that contain graphic images •r descriptions of a sex act.
•Prohibits curriculum on gender identity or sexual orientation in K-6th grade.
•Prevents schools from having policies that keep secrets from parents about their child’s gender identity.
•If a student requests an accommodation at school for a gender identity that is different than their sex at birth, the teacher must report that information to the administration and the administration must tell the parents.
•We believe our language is a simpler approach to this. There isn’t room for discretion, bias, or an agenda. The trigger for when the parents must be informed is very clear.
•It also removes the teacher from the situation so they can stick to what they really signed up to do – teaching.
•Schools must get parental consent prior to giving surveys and must share who created and sponsored the survey as well as how the data is being used and stored.
HF 597 / SF496 – Removing Sexually Explicit Materials from Schools
•The House passed a bill to remove sexually explicit material from Iowa school libraries.
•This bill requires that all books in school libraries must be age appropriate and expands the definition of age appropriate in code to include what is NOT age appropriate.
•If you find yourself skeptical that this material could possibly be in Iowa schools, please take the time to view the passages and images from these three examples:
•Let’s Talk About It contains sexually explicit illustrations with instructions, tips and suggestions •n how to perform various sex acts.
•Gender Queer contains graphic illustrations of oral sex.
•Push contains detailed and disturbing instances of incest and sexual molestation.
House File 348 / SF496 – Gender Identity/Sexual Orientation Curriculum
•This bill prohibits any classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in K-6th grade.
•We send our kids to school to learn reading, writing, math and science. This policy will allow teachers to use their time on those topics and leave discussions on social issues to the parents.
•Teachers should teach and parents should parent.
House File 327 / SF 391 – Chapter 12 Reforms
•This bill gave K-12 schools more flexibility and eliminated needless requirements in Iowa code.
•These changes came from listening to school officials on the regulations they are having a hard time meeting, oftentimes due to being short-staffed. These changes include:
•Allowing financial literacy to be taught within other courses.
•Lowers the world language requirement from 4 to 2 and the fine arts requirement from 3 to 2.
•Allows students participating in certain school-sponsored activities to count as their PE requirement.
House File 622 – Protecting Privacy in School Bathrooms and Locker Rooms
•This bill gives schools guidance on bathroom and locker room requirements.
•The bill states that people may not use a multiple occupancy bathroom or changing area that does not correspond to the sex on their birth certificate in K-12 schools. It specifies that this applies to any locker room or changing area for extracurricular activities and for overnight trips.
•The goal of this bill is to respect the privacy of all children at school. For decades we have separated bathrooms and locker rooms by biological sex. That policy must remain.
•However, I do understand that some children may not feel comfortable using the restroom or locker room that corresponds with their biological sex. This bill directs schools to make an accommodation for that child by providing a separate space for that child to use.
•Accommodations absolutely should be made to keep that child safe and comfortable as they change or go to the bathroom. However, that accommodation should not have to come at the expense of the privacy of our other children, particularly our daughters.
•This bill gives schools the guidance that many of them have asked legislators for to be able to maintain their bathroom policies and accommodate students when necessary.
House File 604 – Teacher Empowerment
•When talking with teachers, it is shocking to hear the student behavioral issues they are asked to deal with on a daily basis.
•Too often, these teachers are not getting the support they need from their administration. And in many ways, they are hindered in their ability to discipline students that are disruptive and protect themselves against students that are violent.
•HF 604 came about after receiving feedback from teachers about their experiences.
•Allows teachers to make a complaint directly to the ombudsman’s office regarding violence in the classroom and requires the ombudsman to investigate.
•Requires the school district to ensure their teachers know their rights regarding teacher immunity when coming in physical contact with a violent student.
•Includes teacher whistleblower protections.
•Require schools to develop an escalated discipline policy for disruptive or violent students. This policy must include the ability to suspend or permanently remove a student from a class, expel or move the student to an alternative learning environment. The policy must also include the ability to send the student to counseling with parental consent.
Senate File 560 – Reigning in DEI Bureaucracies at Iowa Regents
•Each year, the Regent Universities in Iowa are spending at least $2 million in salaries on so-called “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” positions on campus.
•While this might sound nice, the real implications of these DEI efforts are not inclusive or diverse at all. Far too often, their efforts are incredibly divisive and are aimed at silencing conservative voices and imposing ideological conformity on campus.
•Iowa House Republicans are committed to protecting the free speech rights of ALL college students and faculty members, not just those that are in lockstep with the Left.
•At the very least, we can ensure that taxpayer dollars are not being used to suppress diversity of opinion and create an unsafe space for conservatives.
•The regents have even admitted that their DEI programs have gotten out of hand.
•That is why our education budget contained language to require the Board of Regents to complete a study by November on their DEI programs to see what is actually a worthy use of taxpayer dollars and where they are doing more harm than good.
•The bill also puts a pause on new spending and hiring on these misleading DEI programs until we can determine what must be done going forward.
•It’s time to reign in these misleading DEI bureaucracies and return our Universities’ focus to academic excellence, and create a safe space for students to explore and share a wide variety of thoughts and opinions.
House File 623 / SF 538 – Prohibition on Gender Procedures on Children
•The House passed a bill to prohibit transgender surgeries and harmful hormonal therapy from being used on Iowa children.
•Two hospital systems in Iowa perform these therapies or surgeries on children. Unity Point provides hormone therapy and puberty blockers, and UIHC provides hormone therapy, puberty blockers as well as top surgery to children.
•Importantly, there is very limited data available on the long-term effects of this type of treatment. The few studies that have tracked long-term effects do not support the idea that this treatment lowers the rate of suicide in transgender individuals.
•Children are just too young to make these permanent decisions. In many ways, we limit children and their parents from making choices they are too young to make. A child can’t smoke cigarettes or gamble, even with parental consent.
•Under current practice, these children are being allowed, or even encouraged, to make these permanent decisions, with life altering consequences such as sterilization, before they have been given the opportunity to grow up and learn more about themselves.
•This law will help give Iowa children the time to mature and grow into themselves before making such a life-altering decision.
House File 93 – Mental Health Professionals Non-Competes
•This bill prohibits non-compete agreements in mental health providers’ contracts.
•Expanding access to mental health care is one of the top issues we hear about from our constituents.
•We have done a lot of great work in past sessions to address this issue, but one of our biggest obstacles remains the need for more mental health care providers.
•This bill will help ensure that no contract restrictions on where a mental health care provider can treat Iowans for any amount of time will stand in the way of Iowans receiving the mental health care they deserve.
House File 176 – Continuous Sexual Abuse
•HF 176 updates the crime for continuous sexual abuse of a child.
•A person convicted of continuous sexual abuse of a child is guilty of a class “B” felony and must serve 70% of their 50-year sentence.
•A person who is convicted of the heinous crime of sexual abuse of a child not only deserves an extremely strict penalty, but deserves to spend many years behind bars to keep our children safe.
House File 630 – Human Trafficking Penalties
•Increases penalties for people convicted of human trafficking and also enhances penalties for a person involved with trafficking a child under the age of 18. It also removes deferred judgments and suspended sentences for this crime.
•Human trafficking, especially a child, is one of the most heinous crimes and it deserves to be met with the strictest of penalties in Iowa.
Senate File 562 and Senate File 563 – Justice Systems and Judicial Branch Budget Highlights
•Provides a $15 million increase to the Department of Corrections, with most going for staffing costs. These are very tough jobs and we know the department is having a tough time hiring and keeping folks for these roles.
•Increases funding for attorneys who represent impoverished Iowans. This budget raises payment for indigent defense attorneys by $5 per hour and also provides travel reimbursement at $35 per hour, plus mileage.
•Iowa’s Supreme Court Justice said at her Condition of the State that Iowa only has 600 attorneys willing to be appointed to represent indigent clients because of the pay and it’s leading to trial delays.
•Creates an interim study to examine human trafficking and find ways to help juvenile victims.
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