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Capitol Review 4-9-17

Protecting Unborn Life

This week, House Republicans passed legislation to significantly reduce abortions in the state. Senate File 471, as amended, is the most comprehensive pro-life bill to ever pass the Iowa House.

The bill protects an unborn child from an abortion 20 weeks after fertilization. A mother would only be able to have an abortion after 20 weeks if she was facing a medical emergency and the abortion was necessary to preserve the life of the mother, or to preserve the life of a child (normally done when multiple children have been conceived).  The amendment also requires doctors to gather and report information on abortions performed, including the post fertilization age of the unborn child and the method used for the abortion. The bill does not include criminal penalties for any party, but a doctor who fails to follow the law could face licensing sanctions.

During the debate, an additional amendment was accepted to address prerequisites for an abortion. This amendment sets standards that must be met before an abortion can be performed, in most cases. They include: 

  • A 72 hour waiting period
  • An ultra sound to determine the approximate age of the child
  • The woman seeking the abortion be given the opportunity to see the ultra sound and listen to the heartbeat of the child.
  • The doctor shall provide the woman with information relating to pregnancy options and risks associated with abortion.

Unless there is a medical emergency, failure to comply with these requirements could result in sanctions against the doctor. Neither the doctor nor the mother will face criminal charges for their actions.

The final language, approved by the House, also included essential intent language. This language made it clear that it is the intent of the general assembly to protect all unborn life, but that the amendment does not prohibit abortion, nor does it recognize a right to an abortion. House Republicans remain committed to protecting all Iowans, including the most vulnerable ones.

None of the language proposed by the House prohibits the use of contraception, or fertility treatments and the language does not extend beyond prerequisites for an abortion and a prohibition on abortions after 20 weeks. 

For years, House Republicans have led the fight to protect life.  Senate File 471 is a victory for all Iowans who value life. It is estimated that at least 52 babies every year will be saved by this amendment. The bill now returns to the Senate for their approval before being sent to the Governor.

Budget Targets

This week House and Senate Republicans announced joint targets for the FY18 budget.  The agreed upon budget plan spends $7.245 billion, which is about $18 million less than FY17.

Budget Targets

Administration and Regulation $ 47.39 million
Agriculture and Natural Resources $ 38.84 million
Economic Development $ 38.41 million
Education $ 908.41 million
Health and Human Services $ 1.766 billion
Justice Systems $ 734.95 million
Standings $ 3.711 billion
TOTAL $ 7.245 billion

This budget takes a responsible and thoughtful approach to spending in recognition that revenue may continue to come in less than anticipated.

This budget plan fully funds the additional $40 million promised to K-12 schools earlier this session.  It’s clear that K-12 education will be receiving the largest funding increase in all areas of government.  Most areas will see budget reductions.

This budget plan makes an initial down payment of $20 million to repay the Cash Reserve account.  House Republicans will be looking for ways to increase the down payment this year and will pass a plan to fully repay the Cash Reserve by the end of this General Assembly.

Thankfully, House Republicans rejected over $1 billion in additional spending plans offered by Democrats over the last two years.  Without that strong stand, key areas like local school budgets would be facing deep cuts.  Iowans can count on House Republicans to fight against reckless government spending ideas.

Texting and Driving

SF 234 was approved by the Senate and was subsequently approved by the House Transportation Committee. 

This bill simply upgrades texting and driving from a secondary offense to a primary offense.  SF 234 allows for drivers to use their phones in hands-free mode and regular mode as well as using their phone as a GPS. It allows for peace officers to pull someone over for a suspected violation of texting while driving. However, it does not make texting and driving a moving violation. The fine for this remains $30.

This bill changes the definition of “electronic message” to include images visible on the screen of a hand-held electronic communication device including a text-based message, an instant message, a portion of electronic mail, an internet site, a social media application, or a game. This update now includes applications such as Facebook and Snapchat.

According to NCSL, 46 states have already banned texting and driving and there are 14 states that have prohibited drivers from using hand-held devices while driving.  SF 234 passed the Senate with a vote of 43-6 and is on the calendar for debate in the House.

Education Celebration Day at the Capitol

school choiceStudents from Valley Lutheran met with me and Sen. Danielson 

school choice rallySpeaking at the School Choice rally

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