This week was the first funnel week. That means most bills had to be approved by a standing committee to remain viable this session. As a result, there were a lot of committee meetings and lots of bills to be considered – most of them not good. See the list of some of the bills below. Here is a list of the Dirty Dozen GOP bills compiled by Senate Democratic Leader Rob Hogg. Here is a link to track some of the bills in committee right now.
We are about half way through the legislative session (I hope!), and we have done virtually nothing that helps families and individuals increase their incomes and health security, get more skills and education, or have more security in retirement. Instead, we have wasted a lot of time on an extreme ideological Republican-Koch brothers’ agenda.
The Republican agenda so far on health care is to eliminate funding and participation of Planned Parenthood to provide family planning services to thousands of low-income women and men at 12 clinics across the state. This program has resulted in significant reductions in unplanned pregnancies, reductions in teen pregnancies and historic lows in women seeking abortions. Yesterday, SF 53, another bill to restrict abortions after 20 weeks, was debated in the Senate Human Resources Committee. Here is an article from The Gazette and coverage by KCCI TV on the debate. I voted to keep politicians out of these difficult decisions that women are more than capable of making without interference.
Unnecessary legislation, SSB 1172, which would ban “sanctuary cities,” was approved in the Senate Local Government Committee yesterday. The bill is another overreach by Republicans. The bill is a swipe at Iowa City and Des Moines Public Schools, which have made it clear they will support and welcome immigrants. It would generally require local law enforcement officials to cooperate with federal immigration law enforcement efforts. Here is a link to the Press Citizen coverage about the debate and bill.
Bicycle safety legislation was approved this week by the Senate Transportation Committee. SF 265 would require a safe passing zone when a vehicle overtakes a bicycle on the road, and front and rear bicycle lights at night. I hope that we can get this bill to the Senate floor.
A lame bill to extend a lame law on medical cannabis advanced yesterday. Here is a link to the Radio Iowa story. The bill extends the liability protection for patients that suffer from intractable epilepsy. Patients still must break federal and other states’ laws to get their medicine. This is another issue that Republicans fail to lead on. We are in our fourth year of inaction to help thousands of suffering Iowans. They say they will do more. Time will tell.
Prairie Preview XXXIV takes place on Thursday, March 9. UI Professor Steve Hendrix will be sharing his research on wild bees in Iowa. Here is a link to the details.
There are several public hearings coming up in the Iowa House next week on bad Republican bills. See what Senate Democratic Leader Hogg had to say about them and get full details on the upcoming hearings.
THIS WEEK’S VISITORS
Bob Welsh, Advocacy Chair, Heritage Area Agency on Aging
Tracey Achenbach, Executive Director, Housing Trust Fund of Johnson County
Sorry if I missed you.