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Collins Capitol Connection
By State Rep. Taylor Collins
Mar. 9, 2023 11:52 am
We are officially two months into the legislative session and the first funnel deadline has passed. What this means is any bill that hasn't been passed out of a committee can no longer be considered this session. The only exception to that being tax and spending bills that have been referred to the Ways & Means or Appropriations Committee.
House Bill Tackles Explosion of Ideologically Driven DEI Positions and Requirements
Iowa’s public universities excel when they are focused on their mission to promote the search for truth and knowledge while maintaining academic freedom and integrity, without being transformed into factories of ideological conformity.
House Study Bill 218, which I serve as the floor manager of, is the first step towards dismantling the divisive diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) bureaucracies which operate as ideological enforcement divisions on our college campuses. Taxpayer funded political activists are housed within these bureaucracies under the DEI umbrella. In reality, they are not inclusive, and are working to persuade, teach, and enforce ideological conformity. In fact, these offices are constantly bombarding faculty, staff, and students with a constant stream of ideological emails, trainings, and programming.
The intent of this legislation is easily understood if one imagines what the reaction would be if the opposite was happening. What if the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa all built internal bureaucracies funded with taxpayer dollars to teach conservative political values, enforce conservative political litmus tests for hiring and publicly shamed students and faculty who violate conservative principles?
The fundamental question to ask is do Iowans support administratively enforced political coercion at their universities?
Teacher Empowerment Act Designed to Protect Teachers From Classroom Violence Advances
This week the education committee approved a bill aimed at empowering teachers to retake control of their classrooms. House Republicans have heard from many teachers across the state about the struggles they face in the classroom regarding behavioral issues with students, a lack of support from administrators, and trainings that take time away from their basic teaching responsibilities. House Study Bill 206 was put together to help address those problems. The bill is just the start of giving classroom control and personal safeguards to teachers. The bill is not in it’s final form and changes should be expected before any debate in the House, but the conversation will continue as funnel week ends. The bill includes:
•The ability of the state ombudsman to investigate complaints received by licensed practitioners related to violence in the classroom.
•The district must provide the legal authority that requires the employee to participate in the professional development programs.
•The district must provide notice of teacher immunity in regards to coming in physical contact with at student.
•Teacher must notify the parent / guardian within 24 hours if they witness student injury.
•Teacher whistleblower protection.
•Lays out a 3 strike system for student discipline:
oFirst offense, meet with school counselor and one day of in-school suspension.
oSecond offense, meet with school counselor and 5 days of in-school suspension.
oThird offense, expel student from that class and if in high school, not receive credit for that class.
Again, this bill came from teachers coming to House Republicans and asking for help. Stay tuned as the bill moves through the process.
House Provides Reasonable Updates to Iowa’s Youth Employment Laws
This week, the House Commerce committee passed reasonable updates to Iowa’s youth employment laws. This bill was developed with Iowa Workforce Development along with businesses, including grocery stores and restaurants, which hire many individuals under 18. Many of the changes adopted in committee also came from suggestions from labor unions and the Iowa State Bar Association.
This bill strikes a balance to ensure parental consent and safety, while also enabling young Iowans to build independence, work ethic and life skills as they begin down the path to figuring out their future. Iowa does have many workforce challenges, and this bill allows for youth to work in areas that are reasonable for them to work.
House Study Bill 134 makes the following changes for work activities for those under 18 years of age:
•Adds work activities for 14-year-olds, including using a microwave, loading and unloading vehicles, using kitchen cleaning products, and laundering.
•Adds minimal work activities for 15-year-olds.
•Extends the timeframe for persons under 16 to work to 9 p.m. or 11 p.m. depending on the time of year.
•Makes changes to the work prohibitions for 16 and 17-year-olds, by adding performance of light assembly work not near machines, allowing driving a vehicle, office work and loading balers.
•Makes changes to work-based learning programs.
•Allows the labor commissioner to waive or reduce a civil penalty based on the evidence, and may allow for a 15-day grace period before imposing a civil penalty.
•Clarifies liability of students in work-based learning programs driving to and from work.
•Allows a retail alcohol licensee to employ a 16 or 17-year-old to sell and serve alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption if the licensee has on file written permission from the parent.
Allows a minor licensee to drive their vehicle between 5am and 10pm, during work hours, over the most direct and accessible route between the minor’s residence, school, and employment, as long as it is below 50 miles.
House Judiciary Committee Moves Forward Bill to Protect Children
In light of the Oversight Committee meeting last month, the Judiciary Committee submitted House Study Bill 214 to prohibit the use of hormone therapy and puberty blockers while also ending irreversible genital surgeries on children (minors under the age of 18) in our state.
Even in politically 'progressive' Europe, several countries are hitting the brakes on medicalizing gender incongruence in children. Sweden, Finland, and the United Kingdom are no longer allowing so-called gender affirming care on minors and Ireland and Italy are moving in that direction as well.
Puberty blockers do have FDA approved uses for children facing puberty at too young of an age. However, doctors are now prescribing puberty blockers off label to stop children from developing at a normal rate and allowing their bodies to stay prepubescent for an undetermined amount of time so they can decide if they want gender altering medicines or surgery. Long term side effects of using puberty blockers can include weight gain, hot flashes, headaches, fertility issues, weaker bones, and other growth and development issues.
Along with puberty blockers, other drugs are being prescribed to boys and girls that will cause them to have significant physical and physiological changes. HSB 214 also bans these hormone therapies from being given to children in order to alter their looks and bodies. Multiple medical facilities in Iowa are currently providing boys with the female hormone estrogen. Girls are also being prescribed testosterone to make them look more like boys. Hormone therapies are sometimes considered partially reversable drugs for individuals who identify as transgender, but they are still high risk, especially for kids.
The University of Iowa LGBTQ+ clinic has performed a small number of mastectomies on young girls to change the look of their body and not for other medical reasons. While no place in Iowa is currently conducting bottom surgery for children who believe they are transgendered, this type of surgery will also be banned for those under 18.
It is important to remember this bill does not stop the use of puberty blockers, hormone therapy, or surgery for children with medical conditions that absolutely require it.
Expanding Access to Hunting for Disabled Veterans
This week, the House Veterans Affairs committee passed House Study Bill 205 to provide veterans injured in military service certain discounts on hunting licenses and allow the use of a crossbow while hunting with a tag during archery season.
The bill creates a fund within the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs to be used for grants to purchase archery season deer hunting licenses and tags for eligible veterans. Those veterans can use a crossbow during the archery season.
By adding a definition of “permanent disability” as a person that was injured due to their military service, it expands the veterans eligible to purchase a hunting or fur harvester license without paying the wildlife habitat fee, and those eligible for a free annual fishing or a combined hunting license if they meet certain income limits.
This weekend on Saturday, March 4th, I'll be attending two forums - the first one at 9AM at Muscatine Community College, and the second one being at 11AM at Wapello City Hall. I'd encourage anyone in the area to attend!
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