If you are not plugged in to the legislative process, one might think Tuesday that the Iowa Senate was not in session. The Iowa Senate was indeed in session, and spent the day passing legislation honoring our veterans, enhancing protections to keep our children safe and bolstering Iowa’s computer science curriculum. The five bills we passed unanimously Tuesday did not receive front page placement in the newspaper or receive much fanfare on the six o’clock news. However, each one – in their own way – will make a difference in the lives of thousands of Iowans.
This is a regular occurrence in the Iowa Legislature – passing bills with unanimous support. More than 80 percent of the bills pass with unanimous support in the Iowa Senate. One of the first bills we passed off the floor on Feb. 13 with the backing of all 50 senators was Senate File 230. This bill requires members of the Iowa Legislature and employees of the legislative branch to pay 20 percent of their health insurance premiums.
Although these hundreds and hundreds of bills positively impact Iowans, they rarely receive significant media attention. This is understandable, but unfortunate. There is a misperception Republicans and Democrats are unable to work together for the good the state. That simply is not the case. While we have some bills that are partisan, the majority pass the Senate with overwhelming support.
One of the first items of discussion this week in the Senate was approving an Ankeny resident as the interim insurance commissioner. Congratulations to Doug Ommen on receiving unanimous support on his confirmation in the Iowa Senate. With the conclusion of the first funnel last week, we spent much of the week debating bills on the Senate floor in an attempt to keep the process moving.
Honoring our present and past military veterans is important to me. It was my privilege to cast a yes vote Tuesday for Senate File 197, which is a bill allowing the display on the POW/MIA flag on public buildings.
The Senate approved a bill, Senate File 238, which addresses criminal penalties for school employees charged with sexually exploiting children. Additionally Senate File 274, which establishes an incentive fund and work group and creating education standards to create a computer science curriculum was approved 49-0.
Sometimes eliminating bad laws is as important as passing new ones. For example, you might not know it is against the law to leave a vehicle with the engine running. So for folks who utilize a remote start on their vehicles during the winter in an effort to warm up their car, this would be against the law. The Senate unanimously approved Senate File 312 on Wednesday, which would allow motor vehicles to stand unattended with the motor running.
The Senate unanimously passed SF 401, which creates protective orders for sex abuse cases. The order can be obtained before the defendant has been arrested and can cover the victim and members of the victim’s family. The protections are the same as those afforded by a domestic abuse protective order.
These issues usually do not result in breaking news alerts coming out of the Capitol or conjure up much conversation around the dinner table, but have an impact on Iowans and are often addressed in a bipartisan manner.