Norm Pawlewski – Lobbyist
May 25, 2012
The Legislature ended its 84th General Assembly about four weeks beyond the scheduled date of April 17th. It’s hard to say why it went so long, except that the House and Senate seemed not to be able to agree on much of anything. As a result, not much of interest to us got done, but fortunately some things we didn’t want done also failed.
There was an attempt to raise the gas tax in both houses. It passed in the Senate and failed in the House. The next Legislature will take up a gas tax increase in 2013; my prediction is that it will pass. There was a lot of pressure by farm groups, highway construction companies and local governments to enact an eight to ten cents a gallon increase. All that kept that from happening was the predicted threat of a four to five dollar per gallon gasoline price, which as yet has not materialized. If the price per gallon remains under four dollars by January, the pressure to raise money to repair roads and bridges, combined with the fact that 2013 is not an election year, will overwhelm the opponents to an increase.
The education reform efforts by the House, the Senate and the Administration were derailed by a lack of agreement on how much reform was acceptable to all concerned. What was finally passed was minimal at best.
We objected to parts of the education bill that gave the State Dept. of Education more control over curriculum and in general eroded local control. Sen. Brad Zaun of Urbandale introduced an amendment that would have abolished the State Department of Education (DOE) and replaced it with a Committee that would essentially be advisory. Control of school systems would be returned to local boards and parents. He has pledged to try again in the next session to truly reform Iowa’s education system. We support his efforts.
Legalizing Internet poker was passed by the Senate but rejected by the House. We opposed any and all expansion of government involvement in gambling. If there is not too much, there is certainly enough State of Iowa participation in gambling. State Sen. Jeff Danielson of Cedar Falls was the major proponent of Internet poker in the Senate. He pushed hard for a bill and even convinced a few Republican senators to support his efforts. Fortunately, conservative House members would have nothing to do with the issue and killed the bill as soon as it came over to their chamber.
Earned Income Tax Credit
The Senate passed a bill to nearly double the Earned Income Tax Credit. Calling it an “earned income tax credit” is misleading, at best. This is, in essence, an income tax refund to people who didn’t pay any taxes, from taxes that you paid. Sen. Jack Hatch (D) of Des Moines was the driving force in the Senate, but his bill failed to get any traction in the House. We were pleased to see this hand-out die out.
We were also pleased to see a bill that would have required the Dept. of Health to list both members of same-sex marriages on “their” child’s birth certificate. How do you honestly list someone as a “parent” on a birth certificate who played no part in the fertilization or conception of the child? The bill (SF 2004) would have changed “mother” and “father” to a gender neutral “spouse.” This silliness is only the beginning of the nonsense that will result from the re-definition of marriage. Fortunately, not even liberal Democrats in the Senate would move this bill out of committee.
A bill to ban Traffic Cameras, introduced by Rep. Walt Rogers (R) of Cedar Falls passed the House, but failed to advance in the Democrat controlled Senate. Senator Brad Zaun (R) tried to get it considered in that chamber, but was thwarted by Sen. Jack Kibbie and Sen. Mike Gronstal.
I believe the effort to ban the cameras, which, in my opinion, is just another way to invade our privacy through technology, will come up again next session. However, by that time so many municipalities and county governments will be so hooked on the big money they bring in that the opposition to a ban will be fierce.
I do not break the speed limit on purpose and rarely do so by inattention. I also don’t roll through stop signs or try to beat the red light. I don’t like scofflaws who do these things and would like to see them caught and penalized. But I’m not willing to give “big brother” another way to infringe on our liberty. Simon Conway, WHO talk show host, has researched the studies regarding the safety issues these cameras are supposed to make better. His research indicated there are better ways to improve safety and that, in fact, the cameras cause more accidents than they prevent. If that’s true, the issue of traffic cameras should be thoroughly investigated and debated by the Legislature before we go any further down the road toward electronic infringement on our privacy.
Stand Your Ground
A Stand Your Ground, 2nd Amendment bill, pushed by Rep. Matt Windschitl and other House Republicans, cleared that chamber, but was not considered by the Senate. The Trayvon Martin case in Florida put a damper on the enthusiasm for the bill. It will most likely come up again in the next session. It is a good bill and should become Iowa law.
A number of pro-life bills were offered in both Houses. The Senate killed every one that the House passed as well as any that were introduced in the Senate.
At the end of the session, we made one last attempt to get something pro-life enacted. The Annette Sweeney (R) amendment to the Dept. of Human Services Appropriation would have denied family planning funds to clinics that provide or refer for abortions. The amendment passed the House, but was rejected by the Senate. Pro-life legislation killers, Sen. Jack Hatch and Sen. Joe Bolkcom, were on the conference committee that would decide the fate of Sweeney’s amendment. We had one Democrat senator, Joe Seng from Davenport, who agreed to support the amendment. We needed one more and numerous attempts were made by pro-life lobbyists and activists to get that one critical vote. We failed.
Sen. Tom Hancock, who had repeatedly stated he was pro-life, resisted every fervent plea, even from leaders of his own church to do the right thing and commit to supporting the Sweeney amendment. In the past few years I identified Tom Hancock as a pro-life Democrat. I apologize for being gullible and giving him the benefit of the doubt. But at the end of the last session and during this session Tom Hancock had numerous opportunities to act on pro-life initiatives. Each time he chose politics over life and voted, or neglected to vote, his professed pro-life beliefs. Tom Hancock is not pro-life; he is a politician, and a poor one at that. Tom is not running for re-election and that’s a good thing. A double minded man should not be representing the good people of northeast Iowa in the Iowa Senate.
Defunding abortion providers like Planned Parenthood and others would have been a major accomplishment and saved some unborn babies’ lives. This issue will be back when the Legislature reconvenes next January. My prayer is that God will allow me to see that happen.
The pro-life movement lost a faithful and ardent supporter recently. Bob Dopf, chairman of the Iowa Right to Life Committee, went home. When he met his King face to face, I’m confident he was greeted with, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Bob struggled with some health issues for many years, but they did not prevent him from fighting for the unborn effectively and with fervor. I will miss his counsel and his support. My wife and I were out of town at the time of his funeral, but I heard it was an appropriate tribute to this man of honor and dignity. The pro-life movement in Iowa has lost a warrior for the unborn. He will not be forgotten.
Norm Pawlewski – Lobbyist
April 13, 2012
Whole Women’s Health Priority Amendment
H-8213 which prioritizes family planning funds to health care entities that can best provide comprehensive health care to women may come up for a vote in the Iowa House the week of April 16th.
We urge you to contact your House member to urge their support of Rep. Annette Sweeney’s amendment to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Appropriation bill, HF 2435.
The Senate took up their version of the HHS Appropriation this past week. Sen. David Johnson (R) introduced two amendments that would have denied funds to abortion providers. Each of them failed on an almost straight party-line vote. Sen. Joe Seng (D), who is challenging Congressman Dave Loebsack in a Second District Primary as a pro-life Democrat, voted with Republican senators in favor of the amendments. It was no surprise that the Sen. Mike Gronstal, Sen. Jack Kibbie controlled Senate denied any pro-life language from inclusion in their bill. The Senate bill now goes to the House which can: take up the Senate bill, amending it to include the Whole Women’s Health Priority language, or ignore the Senate bill and take up HF 2435 after passing H-8213, the Sweeney amendment.
Which course of action the House will take is open to conjecture, and will be decided by the Republican Caucus.
We believe including the language of the Whole Women’s Health Priority Amendment will reduce the number of taxpayer funded abortions. It will not prevent the funding of abortions that qualify under the Hyde Amendment. That is not a good thing, but it is something we are powerless to prevent. No one in the pro-life community supports any abortions. Life begins at fertilization, period, and all life is precious and deserving of protection and nurture.
I noticed a bit of irony, if not hypocrisy, during the debate on the HHS appropriation bill in the Senate. Sen. Tod Bowman (D) of Maquoketa was arguing for more funding for smoking cessation programs to save lives. Just prior to his remarks he voted against both of Sen. Johnson’s amendments which would have saved many lives. I guess saving lives by discouraging smoking is more important than saving lives by discouraging abortions.
A Faux Pro-Life Organization?
Faux – a French word for false, not genuine or real – being an imitation of the genuine article.
If you are a regular reader of my reports, you would know that I don’t criticize organizations or individuals that claim a pro-life perspective, even though we may differ in our methodology or objectives in saving the unborn. But for the past year I have noticed one organization whose tactics are, to say the least, less than Christian and more beneficial to the pro-choice crowd than to the pro-life organizations with which they should be working.
Let me differentiate Iowa Pro-Life Action from the Pro-Life Action League. The “League” was founded, according to their web-site, in 1980 by Joseph M. Scheidler “with the aim of saving unborn children through non-violent direct action.” If you are interested, you may learn all about the Pro-Life Action League and the people who direct its activities by going to their web pages.
Iowa Pro-Life Action (IPLA), however, provides little information about itself or the people who direct their activities beyond the fact that they were founded in 2011 and that they will sell you a T-shirt. They are not registered as a lobbying organization with the House, Senate or Administrative Agencies. They do not have a person identified as their registered lobbyist, nor have they declared a position on any bill before the Legislature. They do not identify a Board of Directors or an Executive Director or any person or group responsible for their activities or fiscal accountability.
They have not participated in Forty Days for Life, the Prayer for Life at the Capitol, or any other pro-life activity or demonstration. They have not met with or strategized with established local statewide or national organizations (to the best of my knowledge).
They believe we have been doing it wrong for over 30 years, that we have failed to save any lives, and that they have a better plan. I’m still waiting to see what that plan is. As far as I can tell from their web-site and listening to people who say they support or endorse IPLA, there is a lot of smoke but not much fire. They seem to exist to raise MONEY and raise H_LL, not with abortion providers and supporters, but pro-life legislators and the people who do what they can to protect the unborn and save as many lives as is possible in the culture of death in which we now live.
The IPLA’s most recent attack of Rep. Matt Windschitl’s pro-life efforts prompted me to include this report on what I have come to believe is a faux pro-life organization. I have a great deal of respect for this young legislator who from his first campaign for a House seat has unashamedly and without reservation fought for the unborn. I will not go into detail about what they said or to whom it was said. That would give them the visibility they seek by the vicious, inappropriate and untrue charges they make against true pro-life warriors.
Knowing their tactics, vitriol and the spiritual superiority they claim for themselves, I fully expect them to not take kindly to this report and attack me. I would just caution them, I have not squeezed off all the rounds in my magazine.
~~And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more as we see the day drawing near.~~Heb. 10:24-25
Norm Pawlewski – Lobbyist
March 28, 2012
Legislature’s Black Hole
The Iowa House has worked hard to pass priority legislation this session, only to have it disappear into Mighty Mike’s (Gronstal) black hole. The session is scheduled to end on April 17th. Hopefully, the Senate will at least pass a budget. It will also have to pass out an education reform bill, if one is to be enacted this session. The House version that was, at most, acceptable to the education community, died in that chamber.
Gas Tax and Traffic Camera Ban
It appears that the gasoline tax increase will die for lack of support in the House, and the traffic camera ban will die for lack of support in the Senate.
We were opposed to the gas tax increase, not in principle, since we agree that road and bridge repair is needed, but because of timing and the belief that there are sufficient tax revenues available. They are just being misspent in other areas.
We favored the traffic camera ban, not because we opposed traffic safety but because we believe they are privacy intrusive and are purposely designed to raise revenue, not only for the municipalities that install them but the private companies that sell them and get a percentage of the take. That’s just wrong, just as the proliferation of cameras everywhere to watch our every move is wrong. Public safety is one thing; onerous surveillance is another.
Although the Internet Poker bill passed the Senate with the help of seven Republicans, the bill doesn’t appear to have support in the House and is, therefore, dead for this session. The increased gambling revenues and supposed protection of “Iowans who are doing it anyway” are not sufficient justification for the state to become more deeply involved in an activity that, for some, becomes personally destructive. We hope this issue is not only dead for this session, but for the future as well.
We understand that whether to gamble or not is a personal choice, but believe the state should only regulate it for the protection of its citizens, and not profit from it.
Whole Women’s Health Funding Priority Act
H-8213 is an amendment to HF-2435, the Iowa Health and Human Services appropriations bill. The amendment introduced by Rep. Annette Sweeney (R) prioritizes family planning funds to health care entities that can best provide comprehensive health care to women.
The legislation does not cut family planning funding by a single cent; instead it ensures funding is provided on a priority basis to health care entities that offer the full range of primary care services to women, not just reproductive care.
It is a proven fact that “abortion providers” like Planned Parenthood provide only rudimentary health services to their clientele and are not staffed, equipped, or trained to provide the broader range of services young women of reproductive age are entitled to receive. Of course, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers are furious that someone is challenging their “right” to receive taxpayer funds to help keep them in business to exploit young women in need of primary health care that may not be related to their sex lives.
Although abortion providers claim they do not use these funds to enhance the abortion profit center of their balance sheet, the facts prove otherwise. When Texas redirected family planning funds as this amendment proposes, more than a dozen Planned Parenthood clinics closed their doors. The women who frequented those clinics began receiving more appropriate and a wider range of health care emphasizing counseling, screening, and early detection of leading causes of morbidity and mortality, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular and renal diseases and asthma. Abortion providers do not and cannot provide the services that public hospitals, federally qualified health centers and like agencies can and do provide. If our tax dollars are going to be spent for these services, then they should be allocated to providers best suited to provide them.
When you support H-8213, you not only ensure that young, Iowa women will receive a higher level of health care, you provide additional support for your local hospital and primary care providers who are struggling to stay viable in one of the most challenging health care environments they have faced in recent history. They need these funds more desperately than the abortion providers who make obscene profits rendering an obscene service.
Ask your legislator to support the “Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priority Act.” Don’t believe the lie that by doing so you are denying young women the health care they need. The exact opposite is the truth.
~Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good, and acceptable and perfect.~
~Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.~
Norm Pawlewski – Lobbyist
March 9, 2012
Planned Parenthood Medicaid Funding Challenge
A coalition of pro-life organizations has proposed an amendment to the Health and Human Services budget bill that would re-direct family planning funds to health care entities that can best provide comprehensive health care to women. The amendment disallows abortion providers, or those affiliated with abortion providers, from receiving taxpayer dollars, to ensure separation of public funds from any program or entity that uses abortion as a means of family planning.
The Family Leader, Iowa Right to Life Committee, Iowans for Life, Americans United for Life, and the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition have been working with Rep. Annette Sweeney (R) of Alden and other Republican House members to get the amendment introduced. Its adoption would greatly benefit low-income women in need of health services.
Planned Parenthood claims they are the “provider of last resorts” for poor women needing reproductive health care and health screening. They greatly exaggerate their contribution to the health care needs of these women. They hand out birth control pills, condoms, and perform abortions. They have one physician to address the health care needs of these women, and she is their sole provider of webcam abortions for twenty or more locations. For their efforts they get between six and seven million dollars from the Medicaid Program each and every year. These services would be best provided by such public entities as health departments, non-public hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers, rural health clinics, and non-public health providers that can provide primary “Whole Woman” care.
Should our efforts result in an amendment on the House version of the Appropriations bill, we will provide you with more information you can use to promote it with your legislators.
Prayer for Life 2012
I have mixed feelings about this year’s Prayer for Life at the Capitol. This year, as in previous years, I was disappointed with the turnout. I would guess that about two or three hundred pro-lifers showed up. It should be thousands. But lack of quantity was somewhat compensated for by quality. It was good to see that many of the pro-life warriors we have seen for decades are still in the fight. Some came from as far away from the Capitol as Dubuque, Council Bluffs, and Sioux City. About ten state representatives and at least one senator were there to address the assemblage, as well as Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds.
The show was stolen, however, by a group of young people from Joshua Christian Academy. I didn’t count them. I was too busy being awed by their discipline, enthusiasm, and recitation of scripture, parts of the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution. Led by Mrs. Chris Hurley, who stood behind the children, the inspiring performance was all theirs – those young faces beaming with pride and confidence. I don’t know exactly how long they spoke, but it was long enough and good enough to warrant a standing ovation by all who were blessed by their presentation. Pastor Keith Ratliff of Maple Street Baptist Church, which created Joshua Christian Academy in 2009, should be exceedingly proud of these little ones. Everyone (teachers, board members, patrons, and parents) should be proud of giving these children the opportunity to reach for and attain their God-given potential.
If you are inclined to help this school and the children, go to their website to find out how.
Congressman Dave Loebsack Primary Challenge
Sen. Joe Seng (D) of Davenport is challenging Congressman Dave Loebsack for the District 2 spot on the Democrat ticket. Joe is a Catholic, a veterinarian by profession, and a long time pro-lifer. I have known him for decades. Many times he has told me that as a veterinarian he has seen death up close; it sickens him to see an animal die. How much more sickening is the death of a baby. He told me he is running as a pro-life Democrat. The attempt by the president to force funding contraception and abortion on the Catholic Church was the last straw for Joe. He is getting a lot of heat from his own party because of his challenge to Loebsack’s candidacy. If you would rather see two pro-life candidates face off in House District 2, help Joe in his primary.
Traffic Cams and Gas Taxes
Both issues are still alive in the Legislature. But as suspected, both face stiff opposition. The municipalities that consider traffic cams a “cash cow” are lobbying hard to keep the largesse flowing. The Farm Bureau and related farm business organizations are pushing hard to get the gas tax bills on the books, and they are making progress.
If you are for the traffic cam ban and opposed to the gas tax hike, you need to talk to your legislator. The other side is.
Two resolutions, HR123 in the House and SR114 in the Senate, have been introduced. These resolutions are a statement of support for “A Free, Independent, and Secure Israel.”
Leadership in the House has voiced support for HR123, which was introduced by Rep. Betty DeBoef (R) of What Cheer. Sen. Mike Gronstal (D) has told Sen. Brad Zaun (R) of Urbandale, who introduced SR114, that he will not move the resolution forward. Sen. Gronstal will again abuse his power as Senate Majority Leader to keep an important issue from being debated. IFFC supports and has registered in favor of both of these resolutions. We will work to get them considered by both chambers.
~Psalm 31:24 Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.~
Norm Pawlewski – Lobbyist
February 17, 2012
GAS TAX INCREASE – SENATE – HOUSE
SSB 3141 introduced by Sen. Tom Rielly (D) of Oskaloosa, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, passed out of that committee on a 11-2 vote. Three Republicans joined eight Democrats to raise the tax on gasoline by 10 cents a gallon by Jan. 1, 2014. Sen. Joni Ernst (R), Sen. Hubert Houser (R), and Sen. Tim Kapucian (R) voted for SSB 3241. Sen. Brad Zaun (R) and Sen. Jim Hahn (R) voted no. Why these three Republicans voted for the bill, only they can answer. It could have passed out of committee without their votes.
HSB 547 introduced by Rep. Dave Tjepkes of Gowrie, chair of the House Transportation Committee, has not yet been voted on by the full committee. Some House Republicans are in favor of the bill; how many won’t be known until a vote is taken. The House version raises the gasoline tax by 4 cents per gallon in May of 2013 and another 4 cents in May of 2014.
There are other provisions in these bills, but the gasoline tax increase is the major purpose for them. When fully implemented, it is expected that as much as $220 million will flow into the state’s coffers. The average driver will contribute about $65 per year.
Supporters of the increase, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa League of Cities, Travel Federation of Iowa, Good Roads Association and the Iowa Soybean Association say the revenue is needed to repair deteriorating roads and bridges. Fair enough, but isn’t there another way to get the needed resources to get the job done? How about finding money in the current budget that has a much lower priority than roads and bridges? Is a higher tax the only solution available? What about Republican pledges not to raise taxes?
I realize that 8 cents or 10 cents a gallon, when gas is $3.50 or possibly going to $5.00 per gallon, doesn’t seem like a big deal. But when you look at the big picture, $220 million going into the state treasury, it sounds like a big deal. I would hope our Republican and Democrat legislators take a hard look at the state budget to find better ways of getting the job done without resorting to taking more money out of taxpayers’ pockets.
HSB-626 introduced by the House State Government Committee chair, Rep. Peter Cownie (R) of Polk, would expand Iowa’s gaming industry by allowing Internet poker to the mix. A similar bill, SSB 3164, was introduced by Sen. Jeff Danielson (D) of Black Hawk, chair of the Senate State Government Committee.
The Senate version will face its first test on Feb. 20th at 2:00 p.m. in a sub-committee made up of Sen. Danielson (D), Sen. Horn (D), and Sen. Bertrand (R). It is expected to pass out of the sub and be referred to the full committee.
The House sub-committee made up of Rep. Cownie (R), Rep. Iverson (R), and Rep. Wenthe (D), has not, as yet, scheduled a meeting on HSB 626.
Both of the bills expand gambling in Iowa and offer a new opportunity for problem gamblers to get into trouble.
Why do some people want to approve this additional form of gambling? They say Iowans are already doing it, so we need to protect them from some of the Internet predators that have taken advantage of an unregulated system. But they also say that the state is losing millions of dollars by not taking their cut.
If you believe as we do, that Iowa already has more gambling than is healthy for us, then I suggest you contact your legislators and tell them what you think about bringing casinos into the homes of Iowans by Internet.
WEB CAM BAN
Several bills to ban the use of Web Cams to catch speeders and red light violators are making their way through both chambers. Those of you who have contacted your legislators asking them to support the bans may be making some headway. Keep it up. We may get this newest privacy intrusion banned. The governor said he would sign a bill if it got to his desk. Continue to contact your legislators on this issue.
Sen. Brad Zaun (R) of Urbandale has an interesting take on this issue. His bill, SF 2191, requires that the money a city or county collects from traffic cameras, after costs, be distributed to non-profits by a five member citizens’ committee. No elected officials could serve on the committee.
I wonder how many municipalities would continue to utilize traffic cameras without the incentive of all those dollars flowing into their coffers. It is about safety, after all, isn’t it?
THE SECOND AMENDMENT
There is a civil (I think it’s civil) war going on within the supporters of the 2nd Amendment. Some supporters are pushing for an unfettered right to bear arms. Others, although supporting “ownership and carry rights,” are not comfortable with that notion. Let your legislators know just how far you are willing to take the Second Amendment. Two former state troopers, Rep. Clel Baudler and Rep. Dave Tjepkes, have expressed some reservations about a “pure” Second Amendment right.
NEW REPUBLICAN PARTY STATE CHAIRMAN
On a close vote of the State Central Committee, A. J. Spiker of Ames was elected chair of the Iowa Republican Party replacing Matt Strawn. A. J. is a realtor with Friedrich Iowa Realty. He is married, the father of three, a conservative, and well known to the leadership of Iowa Faith and Freedom. It didn’t take long for critics to begin questioning his selection.
A. J. was local coordinator for the Campaign for Liberty and active in the several committees to elect, most recently the Dr. Ron Paul campaign. On his election, he immediately removed himself from any connections to any candidate for president.
I have no doubt that A. J. will conduct himself honorably and without bias against any Republican candidate, office holder, or member. He is an intelligent, competent, successful businessman who will lead the party rightly. If you want to know more about A. J., I suggest you Google him.
A sub-committee, chaired by Rep. Joel Fry (R) of Osceola passed out to the full committee. HF 2033 which would require “that prior to performing an abortion, a physician must certify in the woman’s medical record that the woman has undergone an ultrasound imaging of the fetus,” and other provisions.
Our only suggestion on the bill was that it specifies the qualifications of the person performing the ultrasound. We believe this bill has a chance for passage, if it can clear the Human Resources full committee.
Two “prohibition of abortions” were introduced. HF 2298 by Rep. Kim Pearson of Pleasant Hill and SF 2194 by Sen. Kent Sorenson of Indianola. The bills are identical. They are fairly complex, making a number of changes to the Iowa Code. If you are pro-life, I suggest you read one or the other.
~~Psalm 15:1-4, O Lord, who may abide in Thy tent?
Who may dwell on Thy holy hill?
He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart.
He does not slander with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
In whose eyes a reprobate is despised,
But who honors those who fear the Lord
He swears to his own hurt, and does not change;~~
Norm Pawlewski – Lobbyist
February 3, 2012
The Legislature has, thus far, been occupied by a few major pieces of legislation, like Education System Reform and Property Tax Relief. That’s kept the number of bills being introduced to a slow trickle. But the pace is beginning to pick up.
The Education Reform bills, SSB 3009 (Senate) and HSB 517 (House) which I mentioned in my last report are being worked on, or worked over, depending on your perspective, and getting a lot of behind the scenes attention. In our opinion, they need it. The 117 page bills were identical as introduced. We believe there are serious deficiencies that need correction. As introduced, the proposed legislation gives the State Dept. of Education too much control of the system, imposes more top-down regulation of Core Curriculum and interferes with private school teacher selection. There are a number of other issues that trusted experts in education have pointed out to us. We are relying on those experts to help legislators fix the bill. Until that happens, we are opposed to SSB 3009 and HSB 517. If acceptable changes are made, we will re-think our position.
HOUSE BILLS OF INTEREST
HF 576 – This bill is a holdover from the last session. It prohibits the inclusion of health plans that provide coverage for abortion in a state health benefit exchange. It would only have an impact if the state creates a state health benefit exchange which is required by implementation of “Obamacare.”
HF 2048 – I mentioned this bill in my last report. This bill is an attempt to prohibit the use of automated traffic enforcement systems, (traffic cams). It has passed the House Transportation Committee and is now eligible for debate in that chamber. Now is a good time to let your representative know how you feel about “traffic cams.”
HF 2113 – 2114 – 2115 – 2116 are all related, in some degree, to the second amendment. If the right to carry or purchase firearms is of interest to you, then I suggest you read these bills and make your views known to your state representative.
HF 2117 – Excludes per diem and daily allowances for legislators and elected officials from the calculation of wages for IPERS (Iowa Public Employees Retirement System). This bill will have a considerable impact on retirement benefits for legislators.
HF 2118 – This bill will require that the Legislative Council determine the amount legislators and legislative employees will pay for health benefits. It requires that the amount be at least $100 per month.
- Both of these bills (HR 2117, HR 2118) are the result of recent media criticisms of the pension and health benefits legislators have been receiving. Both bills are currently in the State Government Committee of the House.
HF 2135 – Is an expansion of the newborn safe haven act to infants one year of age or younger. The current safe haven provisions apply only to “newborns.” This is a tough one. I can see both pros and cons to this expansion. I don’t know if this bill is going anywhere. It currently has only one sponsor, Rep. Mark Smith (D) of Marshalltown. I will keep you informed of any movement of this legislation.
HF 2159 – An act specifying those persons authorized to solemnize marriages in this state. According to the explanation of the bill, it is intended to allow retired judges and magistrates to “solemnize” marriages in Iowa. Seems innocent enough. However, in other changes made to Section 595.10 subsection 2 of the Code of Iowa, the word “minister” is replaced by “individual” and as well in Section 595.13.
- Section 4, Section 595.16 is amended to remove the designation “cleric” and replaced by “an individual authorized to solemnize a marriage under section 595.10.”
- Is this a material change in Iowa’s marriage law? I don’t know yet, but we will oppose HF 2159 until I find out what this language change means. The sponsor of this bill is Rep. Rick Olson (D) of Des Moines.
HF 2175 – An act relating to the definition of person under the criminal code. “This bill defines ‘person’ for the purposes of the criminal code to be: all living human beings from the beginning of their biological development as human organisms regardless of age, race, sex, gender, capacity to function, condition of physical or mental dependency or disability or method sexual or asexual reproduction used whether existing in vivo or in vitro and each person is accorded the same rights and protections guaranteed to all persons by the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Iowa and the laws of this state.”
- This bill also “provides some exemptions to the interpretation and application of crimes against a person based on the definition.” In other words, it provides for an exception to protect the life of the mother and “contraception administered before a diagnosable pregnancy.”
- This bill was introduced by Rep. Matt Windschitl (R) and seven other Republican representatives.
- This bill would confer “personhood” on the unborn. I’m sure you will be hearing more about this bill as the session progresses.
HF 2033 – An act establishing prerequisites to the performance of an abortion. This bill requires that prior to performing an abortion, a physician must certify in the woman’s medical record that the woman has undergone an ultrasound imaging of the fetus; that the woman is given an opportunity to view the ultrasound and that the woman is given the option of hearing a description of the ultrasound image and hearing the heartbeat of the fetus.
- The bill was introduced by Rep. Walt Rogers (R) of Cedar Falls.
- Women who view an ultrasound and/or hear the heartbeat of their unborn child are far less likely to have him or her aborted.
The Senate has been far less productive in areas of interest to us. My next report will cover anything the Senate does, if anything.
MARCH 5TH – PRAYER FOR LIFE AT CAPITOL
Save that date and, if you can, come to the Capitol to help us demonstrate that the unborn matter and that as long as we have the freedom to speak out on their behalf, we will.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.
Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~Matt 6:33, 34
“A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil,
But a fool is arrogant and careless.” ~Proverbs 14:16
Norm Pawlewski – Lobbyist
January 20, 2012
Last Half of 84th General Assembly Begins
The first week of this session began on Monday, January 9th with a lot of “speechifying,” a word coined by Gomer Pyle or some other sit-com character.
On Monday, House and Senate leaders gave their opening remarks, which for the most part lauded their respective accomplishments of the last session and expressed their desire to work together to the benefit of the people of Iowa.
One statement, by Senator Jack Kibbie, warrants mention here. Kibbie said that the states needs to look at increasing the gas tax in order to deal with a “$27 billion transportation funding storage in the next two decades.” You will hear more about this proposal to raise gasoline taxes during this session. I suggest you start letting your legislators, House and Senate, know what you think about this, early and often.
On Tuesday the Governor gave his “Condition of the State” address. In it, he too called for a bipartisan session “to put in place common – sense solutions that are sustainable: by adopting practices that work and by innovating to find new approaches that fit Iowa.” He proposed increasing spending by $230 million, which would increase the state budget to $6.24 billion, with most of the additional spending to go for education and human services.
The governor said that the DOT will look to find $40 to $60 million in savings to go towards road infrastructure; he also said that he would not rule out a gas tax increase if legislators approved a gas tax increase. Both Senator Tom Rielly and Representative Dave Tjepkes, the chairs of their respective chambers’ Transportation Committees, have called for an 8 cent a gallon increase. As I stated earlier, you need to be in touch with your legislators about this gas tax increase. This topic will continue to be the subject of debate throughout this session. We will continue to keep you informed. We ask you to let us know what you think and what your legislator is telling you.
Another topic the governor focused on was education and his plan for improving Iowa’s system. This too will be a topic for further discussion during this session. It is crucial that you be involved in the discussion. Two bills, SSB 3009 and HSB 517, have been introduced. These study bills are a little over 124 pages long and make substantive changes to the Iowa education system. You can get a fairly good synopsis of what these bills will change for better or worse by reading the bills’ “description,” Page 125 to Page 156.
In future reports we will refer you to sources that have scrutinized the language and will point out the pros and cons. In the meantime, we ask that you do your homework and contact people you know and trust on matters effecting Iowa’s education system.
On Wednesday, Chief Justice Mark Cady delivered the Condition of the Judiciary address. There was nothing new or exciting in his presentation. He lauded the Iowa courts’ reputation for fairness and transparency, their innovation and efficiency and their importance to the functioning of business in Iowa. Like all his predecessors, he highlighted the need for additional resources needed to keep up with increased demands on the court system, especially in the area of juvenile justice. How the legislators will respond to Justice Cady’s request for more funds is anyone’s guess.
The second week of the Legislature was shortened by the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday and starting times were affected by weather. Not many bills of note were introduced.
One bill of interest, SB 2004, “An act relating to parentage information included on a birth certificate,” was introduced by Sen. Matt McCoy. Among other changes, the bill removes references to “father or mother” replacing those terms with “a parent,” “other parent,” or “each parent” and replaces the designation of “husband” with “birth mother’s spouse.” This bill is intended to bring Iowa birth certificates in line with the change in the definition of marriage ordered by the Iowa Supreme Court on Varnum v. Brien.
This is only the first salvo in attempts to change thousands of references to husband, wife, mother, father and other traditional labels used in Iowa law where marriage is referenced.
We will report on these efforts as they come up and bring them to your attention. I doubt SF 2004 has much of a chance to pass the House, even if it does succeed to get passed in the Senate.
HJR 2003 and HF 2048 are attempts to ban the use of automated traffic enforcement systems. (Traffic Camera Ban) House Joint Resolution 2003 was authored by Rep. Jeremy Taylor (R) of Sioux City. House File 2048 was introduced by Rep. Walt Rogers (R) of Cedar Falls and 23 other Republicans.
This issue is very controversial and getting a ban or not will depend very much on public sentiment and interest. Governor Branstad has stated he would sign a ban bill if it reaches his desk. Let your legislators know where you come down on this issue.
Finally, we at IFFC wish to congratulate Sen. Jerry Behn (R) of Boone on his election as Republican Senate Minority Leader. Senator Behn is serving his fourth term in the Senate. He has always been accessible to IFFC and is a strong advocate for the same family values we support. We wish him the best as he tries to serve the people of Iowa in a Democrat controlled Senate.