This week is the second funnel in the Iowa Legislature. Any non-appropriations bill passed in one chamber that does not clear in a committee in the other chamber is officially dead for the session though not for the general assembly.

It is important to note the Iowa Legislature can take up these bills next year where they left off in the process.

1. Religious Freedom Restoration Act

As conservative as the Iowa Senate is I am amazed by its failure to pass such a common-sense bill. SF 508, a bill that provides an avenue for judicial review if a person claims the state or a municipality have substantially burdened their free exercise of religion, survived the first funnel passing out of the Senate Local Government Committee 7 to 4 early in March.

It did not get a vote by the full Senate. Big business, which lobbied this bill, strikes again. There are some Republicans who care more about the almighty dollar than protecting the religious freedom of Iowans. This bill does not give anyone the right to discriminate. Read about this bill here and see who sponsored it. Senate Republicans who did not sponsor this bill should be asked why they did not.

If this bill is considered next year it does not have to go through the committee process in the Senate again.

2. Life Amendment

SJR 21 (formerly SJR 9) also survived the first funnel passing out of the Senate State Government Committee by a 10 to 5 vote.

If this proposed constitutional amendment passed and was ratified it would amend the Iowa Constitution to say, “The Constitution of the State of Iowa does not secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”

The amendment itself would not restrict abortion, but it would prevent the Iowa Supreme Court from striking down bills like the fetal heartbeat abortion ban.

The full Senate did not vote on this amendment either. If this is picked back up next session and passed and then passed again during the 89th General Assembly, it can remain on track to go before voters in 2022.

3. Fetal Homicide Bill

SF 523, a bill that increases penalties for the nonconsensual death or serious injury of an unborn person that passed in the Iowa Senate last week and passed out of a subcommittee on Monday. It did not receive a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.

It is likely to be picked back up in the House next year. The primary issue with the bill was that of timing, not the content of the legislation according to State Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee.

There’s 19 other states that use the term ‘unborn child,’ so I don’t think we should have an issue about that. Without having the time to properly vet this legislation and all the ins and outs regarding the legislation, we just didn’t have time to do our due diligence to advance it,” Holt told The Iowa Standard.

4. Restoring Felon Voting Rights

The Iowa House passed HJR 14 95 to 2 last week. This constitutional amendment would restore the voting rights of those who complete their prison terms.

A Senate subcommittee consisting of State Sens. Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs, Jake Chapman, R-Adel, and Robert Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, recommended passage. The Senate will take it back up next session.

5. Traffic Enforcement Camera Ban

Last week the Iowa Senate passed 30 to 19 a measure, SF 343, that would ban all automated traffic enforcement cameras in the state.

The bill was assigned to the House Public Safety Committee and assigned a subcommittee, but not receive a subcommittee hearing in the House.

6. Education Deregulation

The Iowa Senate passed, SF 438, a bill designed to return more control to public schools and accredited non-public schools, by a party-line 32 to 17 vote last month.

A subcommittee made up of State Reps. Skyler Wheeler, R-Orange City, Cecil Dolecheck, R-Mount Ayr, Heather Matson, D-Ankeny, Tom Moore, R-Griswold, and RasTafari Smith, D-Waterloo, approved the bill’s passage on Monday. The full House Education Committee did not consider it this week.

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