30+ bills passed out of Senate

Week nine in the Iowa Senate included some of the first major debate of this year. Just this week, we passed over 30 bills out of the Senate chamber.

The Senate passed Senate File 536 on Wednesday, which took out a restriction in the Iowa code that limited the operation of tele-pharmacies in rural Iowa. Current law set a ten-mile radius restriction for granting a special or limited-use pharmacy license to a proposed tele-pharmacy site. This bill provides more options for rural health care services, increases access to pharmacies in our rural communities and ensures rural Iowans have access to medications and prescriptions they need. It passed the Senate 48-0.

We also passed a bill aimed at improving the knowledge of Iowa students on U.S. government and history. Senate File 209 requires school districts and accredited nonpublic schools to offer all students in grades 9-12 opportunities to take the latest available U.S. citizenship and immigration services naturalization civics test. The goal of this bill is to provide high school students with knowledge of our nation’s government and political processes and help increase civic engagement. The bill passed 43-3.

Protecting Iowa’s largest industry

Agriculture is one of the driving forces of Iowa’s economy. When adversity strikes our ag sector, it often takes a toll on our economy. Look no further than four years ago when the avian flu ravaged the poultry industry in Iowa. That outbreak claimed 30 million hens and 1.5 million turkeys, resulting in the loss of 8,444 Iowa jobs and $1.2 billion in economic losses.

Senate File 519, passed this week in the Iowa Senate and House, would enforce criminal penalties for a person who deceptively obtains access to, or employment at, an agricultural production facility that is not open to the public with the intent to cause physical or economic harm to the facility. The bill also provides for conspiracy charges for those who conspire to cause harm to our agricultural production facilities or animals.

This valuable piece of legislation is essential for ag producers in our state. It provides protections for producers against tampering with their livestock and farming operations and the potentially devastating spread of disease.

A constitutional right to keep and bear arms

Senate Joint Resolution 18 passed the Iowa Senate on Wednesday this week. This legislation is the first step in placing the right to keep and bear arms in the Iowa Constitution. Iowa is one of only six states in the country to lack constitutional protections for this fundamental right and this policy will take Iowa off that ignominious list.

The language in this legislation is nearly identical to the Second Amendment in the US Constitution with one important exception. It requires the Iowa Supreme Court to use strict scrutiny in the judicial review process when evaluating the right of Iowans to keep and bear arms. This language is important because, as was illustrated in 2008 when legal challenges came to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, only one vote on the US Supreme Court separated law-abiding citizens from their constitutional right.

Adding this language to the Iowa Constitution provides a layer of constitutional protections at the state level for the law-abiding citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. This legislation also passed the Iowa House on Wednesday. In order for it to be added to the Iowa Constitution, it must be passed in the same manner in the next General Assembly and then passed by a majority of Iowans in a statewide vote.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.