The Iowa House has again moved toward amending the state constitution to remove a lifetime ban on voting for most Iowans with felony convictions. In a gesture toward Iowa Senate Republicans, a separate bill the House approved would require payment of restitution to victims before someone’s voting rights could be restored.Continue Reading...
This legislative session has kept the Iowa Environmental Council busy, in part because of a bill that would protect gas company profits at the expense of Iowa customers. House File 555 and its companion, Senate File 455, would hurt Iowans by stopping cities and counties from protecting their local residents from dangerous gas infrastructure, high energy bills, and polluting fossil fuels.Continue Reading...
The Iowa House opened its 2021 session on January 11 with 59 Republicans and 41 Democrats, a big improvement for the GOP from last year’s 53-47 split.
Six African Americans (Democrats Ako Abdul-Samad, Ruth Ann Gaines, Ras Smith, Phyllis Thede, and Ross Wilburn, and Republican Eddie Andrews) will serve in the legislature’s lower chamber. Republican Mark Cisneros is the first Latino elected to the Iowa legislature, and Republican Henry Stone is only the second Asian American to serve in the House. The other 92 state representatives are white.
Democrat Liz Bennett is the only out LGBTQ member of the Iowa House. To my knowledge, Abdul-Samad (who is Muslim) is the only lawmaker in either chamber to practice a religion other than Christianity.
I’ve posted details below on the Iowa House majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing House committees. Where relevant, I’ve noted changes since last year.
State Representative Ashley Hinson didn’t miss a roll call vote as the Iowa House wrapped up its work in June, legislative records show. But the two-term Republican mostly stayed out of the House chamber while colleagues debated controversial bills.
The tactic allowed Hinson, who is also the GOP challenger in Iowa’s first Congressional district, to avoid public questioning about policies she supported. Notably, she was absent during most of the House deliberations on imposing a 24-hour waiting period for abortions, establishing a barrier to voting by mail, and giving businesses near-total immunity from lawsuits related to COVID-19.
Neither Hinson nor her Congressional campaign responded to Bleeding Heartland’s repeated inquiries about those absences.
Secretary of State Paul Pate will need approval from the Legislative Council in order to use his emergency powers to alter election procedures, under a bill Governor Kim Reynolds signed on June 25.
While Republicans have a majority on that legislative body, it’s not clear they would use that power to prevent Pate from repeating steps that led to record-breaking turnout for the June 2 primary.
Spirits lifted in the pro-choice community when Iowa House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl did not call up a constitutional amendment on abortion shortly after the legislature reconvened this month.
Republican leaders wanted to pass the amendment, which had advanced from committee months earlier. When a high-profile bill doesn’t come to the floor, it often means the majority party doesn’t have the votes for final passage.
Indeed, at least three of the 53 House Republicans resisted immense pressure to vote for legislation designed to overturn an Iowa Supreme Court ruling protecting “the constitutional right of women to terminate a pregnancy.”
Unfortunately, the holdouts agreed to a last-minute abortion restriction that may provide a faster way to undo the high court’s work.