Week seven in the Iowa House was highly productive, with a number of positive bills passed to help keep Iowa moving forward.
Retaining Health Care Professionals in Iowa
Iowa faces a shortage of health care providers in many areas of the state. This includes primary care, specialty care, and mental health care. Easing this shortage and attracting health care providers, specifically to rural communities, has been one of House Republican’s top priorities over the last several sessions.
We can start to address a shortage of providers by keeping our best and brightest right here in the state. House File 2383 aims to do just that by requiring the University of Iowa Colleges of Medicine and Dentistry to prioritize Iowa students over out-of-state students. This legislation requires at least 75% of admitted students to be residents of Iowa or to have completed their undergrad here in the state.
House File 2383 will help Iowa retain health care professionals to practice here after graduation. Students with previous ties to the state are more likely to stay in Iowa, work in Iowa, pay taxes in Iowa, and raise their families in Iowa. There is no guarantee that students from New York or California will remain in the state following graduation.
The University of Iowa is a taxpayer-funded institution and exists to serve the State of Iowa and the citizens of Iowa. Sadly, House Democrats opposed this effort.
Protecting Free Speech – Reducing Frivolous Lawsuits
In 2017, the Carroll Times Herald published a story about a local police officer’s sexual relationship with a teenager and other previous questionable actions. This story ultimately led to the resignation of the police officer, who was under threat of termination. The ex-officer then sued the paper for libel.
The newspaper ultimately won the lawsuit but was forced to incur over a $100,000 in legal fees, simply for exposing the truth.
These types of lawsuits, known as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP), are intended to silence bad press and suppress free speech by dragging people through costly and lengthy court fights.
I found this to be completely unacceptable, so as Judiciary Chair I worked with the Iowa Attorney General to create House File 2339. It provides individuals with a new avenue to have frivolous SLAPP lawsuits reviewed by a judge in a timely manner, so they can be dismissed early in the legal process. This legislation ensures that freedom of speech is protected and that when someone’s bad actions or misdeeds are brought to light, they are held accountable. This legislation passed the House with all Republicans and Democrats in support and is now in the Senate for consideration.
Encouraging Youth Entrepreneurship
House Republicans are always looking for ways to unleash our small businesses and reduce the amount of burdensome and costly regulations that stifle growth.
One of the smallest of small businesses are lemonade stands run by neighborhood kids. Lemonade stands provide kids with great life lessons at an early age so they can learn important basic skills like real-world math, budgeting, and money management. Unfortunately, we have all seen the maddening news stories where a lemonade stand being run by the neighborhood kids has been shut down for not holding proper permits.
House File 2238 would prevent local governments from creating or enacting policies that crack down on food stands run by minors. We should be encouraging our children’s entrepreneurial spirit, not crushing it.
Protecting the Second Amendment
Since April 1990, the Iowa Code has dictated that Second Amendment issues are to be handled on the state level, in order to prevent a patchwork of different ordinances that would make it impossible for law-abiding citizens practicing their Second Amendment rights to know if they are legal or not as they travel about the state. Unfortunately, cities and counties have not always complied with state law.
House File 2502 strengthens state authority over Second Amendment issues and adds protections for shooting ranges. With hundreds of Second Amendment advocates in attendance, I floor-managed and passed HF2502 on the floor of the Iowa House. All Republicans were in support, all Democrats opposed. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.