Once again, it’s time to grip your billfold and lock up your daughters because the Iowa Legislature is back in session.
Republicans control the Iowa House, the Senate and the governor’s office so they can run roughshod over the objections of minority Democrats and do as they darn well please.
It seems they just can’t think up enough mischief to vex the citizenry of our state.
Here is a dirty dozen of their worst ideas:
- Stopping conservation. Senate study bill 1221 eliminates tax credits and reduces incentives for landowners to sell or gift land and prevents local county supervisors from using state money to buy or receive land for conservation purposes. Only Rhode Island of the 50 states has less land available for public use than Iowa. The bill also prohibits the state from acquiring land for water pollution control projects.
- Punish the poor. Numerous bills would impose additional work requirements even though there are already pretty stringent work and income requirements to receive SNAP and Medicaid. This puts an additional burden on people who are already struggling.
- Gut solar power. Corporate utilities that want a monopoly on all forms of power would tax sunlight and charge those generating solar electricity. This makes renewable energy less accessible and hastens climate change. MidAmerican Energy literally wrote the bill and handed it to friends in the Legislature.
- Suppress the vote. Senate study bill 1241 would shorten hours for voting, prevent state university students from voting on campus, require absentee ballots to be physically delivered instead of mailed on Election Day and remove graduating students from voting registration even before they actually relocate.
- Reinstate the death penalty. Because nothing reduces violence like more violence.
- End health checks for school kids. The bill previously removed the requirement to provide school librarians and school nurses, but those provisions were deleted due to public uproar. What remains is ending requirements for hearing, lead and vision checks.
- More lawsuits. This legislation provides that a third party could sue for damages the mother, doctor, clinic or nurses caused by establishing a conservatorship on behalf of a zygote, embryo or fetus when a pregnancy is terminated if that third party disagrees with the mother’s or doctor’s lawful decision. The third party could be a rapist, a quarrelsome relative, a nosey neighbor or a political/religious organization with an agenda. This is a version of the personhood bills struck down by Iowa courts and voters in other states.
- Resuscitate the ag gag bill. Even though this was struck down by the Supreme Court, and even though there is nothing to see here, the factory farm industry doesn’t want you looking.
- Politicize the courts. This is an effort to weaken the Iowa nonpartisan system of picking judges which has been held up as a nationwide standard to emulate. The bill gives the legislators the power to put their political cronies on judicial nominating commissions and pick ideologically sympathetic candidates.
- Eliminate gun background checks. This also bans gun-free zones and allows guns in schools, churches and courthouses. Legislators with a gun fetish want anyone to carry guns of any kind, anywhere, anytime instead of sensible safety regulations. This provision allows deer hunting with handguns by children of any age and is a follow-up to the “Glocks For Tots” bill passed last year.
- End the Iowa inheritance tax. Even though relatives are excluded from the current tax, and even though no one has lost a farm because of it, legislators are determined to blow another $130 million hole in the budget at a time when we can’t fund education at the inflation rate.
- School vouchers for home schoolers. This provides vouchers — money diverted from public education — for special education and 504 students (those that may need special considerations like more time on tests) for home schoolers. Students who are required to have an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) in public schools would not have them in totally unregulated home schools. Public money should be for public schools. Private money is for private schools.