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Iowa Legislative Update: House committee passes “gay panic defense” bill

The following is a legislative update from Republican Representative Henry Stone of Forest City, representing portions of Emmet, Kossuth and Winnebago counties in Iowa House District 7:
Rep. Henry Stone (R)

The following is a legislative update from Republican Representative Henry Stone of Forest City, representing portions of Emmet, Kossuth and Winnebago counties in Iowa House District 7:

It has been another busy week here in Des Moines. There have been a lot of committee and subcommittee meetings going on plus a few debates. Tuesday was especially busy here because it was FFA Day on the Hill! Many students from around the state came to visit and talk to their legislators. I was able to meet with students from Algona, Forest City, North Union, and Estherville. I really enjoyed talking to them about what I do here at the capitol and hearing about their interests as well.

As I mentioned, there have been a lot of committee and subcommittee meetings which means bills are moving forward. Here is a look at some of the legislation that has passed out of a few of my committees.

House Judiciary Passes Common Sense Bills

The House Judiciary Committee has been meeting twice a week since session started in order to move important legislation. Committee members typically discuss and pass between two and four bills each meeting. Many of the bills have been focused on vulnerable populations and protecting them from abuse. Below are a few of those bills passed by the committee:

House File 112-Domestic Abuse Assault
This bill allows county attorneys to look at previous convictions of domestic abuse in order to increase the penalty for an abuser. Current law only allows a county attorney to consider the past 12 years of convictions. By expanding the look back, those who are habitual domestic abusers will face more time in prison and away from their victims.

House File 159- Gay Panic Defense- Prohibition
HF 159 prevents a defendant from using a person’s sexual orientation, or gender identity as a mitigating factor in a violent crime.

House File 177- Anti-SLAPP- Protecting Public Participation
From the Uniform Law Commission and prevents lawsuits that attempt to stop public participation. Often times these lawsuits are focused on newspapers who are reporting true facts.

Each of these bills have passed the Judiciary committee and are now available for floor debate.

House Education Passes Regent Teacher Preparation Program Review and Parental Rights Bills

On Tuesday, House Republicans advanced four bills out of committee. There were two significant pieces of legislation including a bill that would review teacher preparation programs and require the three Regent schools to give specific and clear definitions of what is being taught to Iowa’s future teachers.  After examining the class descriptions of the teacher training courses currently being taught in the colleges of Education at Iowa State, Iowa and UNI, a broad selection of terms and concepts was put forward to the universities so they could define what exactly they are teaching.

House File 7 requires the University of Iowa, Iowa State, and University of Northern Iowa to send definitions of terms found in teacher prep programs by February 27, 2023. Some of these terms and concepts are:

  • Anti-oppressive literature instruction
  • Anti-racist and anti-oppressive teaching and learning
  • Support for educators committed to critical pedagogy and anti-racist and anti-oppressive education
  • How education is never neutral
  • Choosing an explicit anti-oppressive stance
  • Oppressive forces in education
  • Compulsory heterosexuality
  • Social justice orientation to teaching
  • Ideological, cultural, and sociopolitical issues in children’s literature
  • Teachers and administrators as change agents
  • Equitable science teaching

As of the writing of this newsletter, the Regent Universities have not provided definitions on any of these and many more terms and concepts despite teaching classes containing them.  It only stands to reason that the universities could define what they are in fact teaching. The bill also makes an interim study committee to review practitioner preparation programs. This committee is made up of the chair of the Senate and House Education committees as well as two other members from each chamber that are chosen by the Leader and Speaker of the respective chambers.

House File 7 passed out of committee with the vote of 15 to 8.

A second bill approved by the committee prohibits a school district from hiding information about students from parents or guardians.  Parents have a right to know what their child is going through and even if it’s a tough situation, parent’s are in the best position to help their children through it.

House File 9 is a bill that prohibits school districts from:

  • Facilitating any accommodation that is intended to affirm a student’s gender identity without written consent of student’s parent/guardian.
  • Encouraging or coercing a student to withhold information from their parent/guardian.
  • Willfully withholding information to a parent/guardian regarding student’s gender identity.
  • Encouraging, pressuring, coercing a student’s parent/guardian to allow a student to undergo medical intervention to affirm the student’s gender identity.

After robust discussion, House File 9 passed out of committee with a vote of 15 to 8.

One question I get a lot is how are school districts funded and where does all the money come from.  Below is a graphic showing where each revenue source comes from and which fund money is moved into.  This is how school districts separate all sources of revenue to fund different aspects of the overall district budget.

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