While most of the news cycle was dominated by presidential politics, important things were happening in Des Moines. Yet now the session is concluded. Here’s a quick breakdown of key bills that passed this session and those that didn’t:
Banning the sale of baby body parts
A bill that would have made it illegal to sell parts of an aborted child failed was passed in the Republican-controlled House, but blocked by the Democrat-controlled Iowa Senate.
Defunding abortion providers
After weeks of negotiations between the House and Senate on whether or not the state will continue to fund abortion providers, the Senate won, and funding continues. The House, however, was able to negotiate an increase in the child adoption tax credit, from $2,500 to $5,000. Seven Republican legislators resolutely refused to vote for a Health and Human Service Budget that continued to fund abortion providers: Reps. Salmon, Watts, Heartsill, Fisher, Baxter, Kooiker, and Sheets. Nonetheless, the budget narrowly passed with just 51 votes. All other no votes came from Democrats, who voted no for other reasons.
A Senate bill that would have legalized doctors prescribing death-inducing pills to patients diagnosed with a terminally ill disease thankfully failed in spite of two subcommittee meetings. This is an issue that will likely be discussed for many years ahead.
Governor’s LGBTQ Conference
The House Government Oversight Committee wrapped up their investigation into the 2015 Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth. Their recommendation was to pass a bill that would require parents to opt in to any form of sexual education and disclose content ahead of time. Unfortunately, this legislation failed to receive the support it needed to advance this legislative session.
This year we took another large step forward in combating human trafficking. Several years ago, Iowa received a “D” grade on laws against human trafficking. The FAMiLY LEADER Foundation and several other organizations worked with the Iowa Legislature to address these issues, resulting in Iowa now getting an “A” grade. Despite strong laws in place, however, our law enforcement was not equipped to handle this crime. But this year the Iowa Legislature opened a brand new office in the Department of Public Safety, and money has been appropriated to that office to begin hiring investigators to enforce laws against traffickers. This was a huge victory on an issue that has received strong bi-partisan support.
The bill that would have expanded the payday lending cap from $500 to $5,000 thankfully failed this session. We do expect to see this effort resurrected in future years.
Religious liberty and life at conception
At the beginning of the session, over 70 pastors visited with the chairman and members of the Iowa House Judiciary Committee on the importance of both of these issues. Neither bill moved forward in committee. It may take years to change the minds of Iowa’s leaders on these two issues, but we will continue to educate until the day Iowa recognizes that life begins at conception and upholds and protects religious liberty.
Terminating parental rights of rapists
Thanks to the joint efforts of Republican Rep. Greg Heartsill and Democrat Sen. Steve Sodders, the Iowa Legislature successfully passed a law that allows a rape victim who becomes pregnant to more easily terminate the rapist’s parental rights over the baby.