Beginning to look toward the end of the 2023 legislative session
It is hard to believe we are already halfway through March! Monday the 20th will mark the first day of spring. Those of us that depend on farming for our livelihood have begun to watch the calendar and monitor the weather back home more closely from here on out. But for now, the farm is a muddy mess. It is mostly Joe’s problem at this point.
As legislators we receive a daily per diem, which compensates us for living expenses for the time spent in Des Moines during each year of session. It is my view–as most of my colleagues would agree–that the mindset of legislators should be focusing on saving the citizens of Iowa the expense of the per diem by working hard in order to finish the session as soon as possible. Unfortunately, not all of the members of the legislature hold this view and would prefer remaining in session for as long as possible.
We continue to work on appropriations bills which we have to do in order to adjourn for the year. One of the things that happens in the last few weeks of session is that crazy bills seem to show up out of nowhere. It is best if we can get out of here for the year before that starts to happen.
The Iowa House of Representatives passed a piece of legislation that streamlines and realigns the state government of Iowa. It has been nearly 40 years since the organization of the state government has been evaluated and restructured in order to serve Iowans. In that time the number of cabinet level departments and agencies has grown to 37 agencies. Within these agencies are many duplicative and redundant services that will move under appropriate departments to maximize the services provided to Iowans. While I agree with 95 percent of this bill I had to vote against my Republican colleagues. The bill gave control and oversight of our local community based corrections facilities to the Iowa Department of Corrections. In my gut, I feel this will move our CBC’s in the wrong direction. If you would like to know more about how I reached my decision, please contact me and I would be more than willing to share my thoughts with you.
Privacy for our children, please
Parents across Iowa have contacted members of the legislature concerned about the privacy of their children in school. There have been a significant number of reports of biological males using female changing rooms, bathrooms and at least one instance of female students forced to share a hotel room with a biological male on school trip. Violating the privacy of these boys and girls not only hurts them, but also places them in a position that no child should have to navigate. Senate File 482 ensures that children are not forced to share a space with a person of the opposite sex while they are using the restroom, or changing clothes.
Senate File 482 takes a simple and straightforward approach. The bill requires schools to designate bathrooms and changing rooms, such as locker rooms, for either boys or girls. Girls are required to use a girl’s bathroom or changing room and boys are required to use a boy’s bathroom or changing room. If there is any conflict or confusion, the sex listed on the child’s original birth certificate clarifies what facility the child shall use. These requirements also apply when there are extracurricular activities outside of the school building. This ensures girls and boys each have the privacy they should expect in a school.
If a child wants greater privacy than provided by law, their parent can send a letter to the school requesting reasonable accommodations. A reasonable accommodation does not allow a boy to use a girl’s bathroom or vice versa but does allow the child access to a single occupancy restroom or changing area, or controlled use of faculty restrooms or changing areas.
There are exceptions to the bill for parents assisting a child who cannot use the restroom or changing room by themselves, janitorial and maintenance staff if the room is empty, allowing access to anyone providing emergency medical care, and in a disaster or emergency situation where it is necessary to protect students from a threat.
Protecting the privacy of children should be a priority for all adults. Children shouldn’t be subjected to woke and confusing gender ideology and should have their privacy protected in their school setting.
State Rep. Mike Sexton, R-Rockwell City, represents Calhoun, Pocahontas, Sac counties plus western Webster County.