House tackles controversial bills
Week 9 draws to a close. The week following first funnel has ended and we spent the vast majority of our time debating on the House floor. The only committees that met this week were the Ways and Means and the Appropriation Committee. In the next few weeks, committees will get busy again as we deal with Senate bills that have come over to the House. You may recall, the first funnel kills any bills that did not pass out of committee in the chamber where they originated. So, House files had to be passed out of House standing committees and Senate files had to be passed out of Senate standing committees. The second funnel deadline on week 12, ends on Friday, March 31. This forces House files to be passed out of Senate committees and Senate files to be passed out of House committees. Bills that do not make it out of their respective committees will die in the second funnel.
We spent a lot of time debating some very large and controversial bills. Here are the main ones.
Senate File 75 —
Rural Emergency Hospitals
Last week, we passed Senate File 75 to establish licensure in Iowa for Rural Emergency Hospitals.
This bill was a priority bill for the caucus from Day 1 of the 2023 Legislative Session.
A rural emergency hospital is a health care facility that maintains a 24-hour emergency room, but does not include acute inpatient care.
Establishing licensure in Iowa for this kind of health care facility allows them to be more successful by receiving reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid at a higher rate.
HF 135 — Student Right to Know
This week, we passed House File 135 through the Iowa House. This bill is aimed at providing more transparency for students at the state’s Regent Universities.
This bipartisan bill requires the Board of Regents to publish a report that includes information on income, debt, and post-graduate degree completion by major, institution, and class.
This bill will allow students to make informed decisions.
House File 348 — Gender Identity/Sexual Orientation Curriculum
This week, the House passed a bill to prohibit 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 bill 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.
This bill was amended to make clear that this is not about limiting all discussion around LGBTQ Iowans. It is to prohibit instruction, curriculum or promotion of these topics in school.
Students with same-sex parents or teachers in a same-sex marriage would not be limited from talking about those relationships.
HF 597 — Removing Sexually Explicit Materials from Schools
This week, we 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.
Age appropriate does not include any material with descriptions or visual depictions of a sex act.
I still cannot believe that this is a bill we need to pass. But unfortunately, books that contain images or passages of exactly the sexual acts have been found in Iowa schools.
State Rep. Mike Sexton, R-Rockwell City, represents Calhoun, Pocahontas and Sac counties, plus western Webster County.