Iowa’s Rightward Turn

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Iowa’s Rightward Turn


In the 2016 election, Iowa voters gave control of the state Senate to Republicans. Voters also increased the GOP’s governing margin in the state House of Representatives. This legislative control, coupled with a Republican governor, has meant that the 2017 legislative session is notably more conservative than in past years.


This shift in Iowa government can be seen when looking at some of the notable conservative legislation passed by one or both chambers so far this year:


House Bill 516 -- To require voters to present an ID: Passed 59 to 40 in the House and 26 to 21 in the Senate

To require voters to present an ID before receiving a ballot, and to require the state to give a voter registration card free of charge to those who do not have one of the forms of ID stated in the law. It also prohibits straight-party voting.


Senate Bill 471 – To ban abortions after 20 weeks: Passed 32 to 17 in the Senate and 55 to 42 in the House

To declare that anyone who terminates a pregnancy 20 weeks or later after fertilization is guilty of a felony. The act establishes some exceptions for preserving the life or health of the pregnant woman, or when the fetus has "an irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function."


House Bill 295 -- To prohibit counties and cities from creating their own minimum-wage laws: Passed 56 to 41 in the House and 29 to 21 in the Senate

To prohibit local governments from setting their own laws on the minimum wage and other matters concerning employment, and to pre-empt existing minimum-wage laws in counties. The bill also prohibits local governments from banning plastic bags.


Senate Bill 43 -- To prohibit state or local governments from requiring "project labor agreements" on public works: Passed 26 to 21 in the Senate

To prohibit government managers from requiring "project labor agreements" on taxpayer-funded construction projects. In effect, such agreements require union labor.


House Bill 517 -- To make several changes to state laws on gun ownership and use, including putting in a "stand your ground" standard: Passed 58 to 39 in the House and 33 to 17 in the Senate

To make a number of changes to state law on gun ownership, including putting in place a "stand your ground" provision and letting citizens sue local governments for enacting gun-free zones.


House Bill 242 – To remove a line on the state income tax form that funds Iowa political parties: Passed 65 to 34 in the House

To remove a line from the state's income tax forms that lets taxpayers direct a portion of their state tax to Iowa political parties.


House Bill 291 -- To limit collective bargaining for unionized government workers and require ongoing recertification of unions: Passed 53 to 47 in the House and 29 to 21 in the Senate

To limit the scope of collective bargaining for union of government workers, require ongoing elections of employees to keep a union in place, and prohibit the government from collecting dues or political contributions for a union. Some parts of this act do not apply to public safety employees.


Senate Bill 2 – To end taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood: Passed 30 to 20 in the Senate

To direct the state health department to not spend Medicaid money on organizations that perform abortions, and to set up a new state program to give family planning services. This is known in the press as the "defund Planned Parenthood" bill.


House Bill 542 – To increase work requirement for drawing unemployment again: Passed 58 to 39 in the House and 29 to 21 in the Senate

To increase the work requirement seeking a second (or later) claim for unemployment insurance. Currently, a person who receives unemployment pay must earn $250 before filing for unemployment again. The bill increases that requirement to 8 times the amount the person received in a weekly unemployment check.


What do you think of these bills? Are you happy with the conservative direction that legislators are taking? Or do you think they are moving too far to the right?


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