This was a busy week at the Capitol. Lots of subcommittee, committee meetings and floor debate throughout the week. Even 12 inches of snow did not stop the work here in Des Moines.
The House Human Resources Committee passed four bipartisan bills related to child care. These bills are part of a legislative package brought forward by House Republicans to increase child care workforce, increase provider rates to maintain existing child care facilities, provide incentives to develop new child care facilities, and support hard-working families afford the high cost of child care.
Now, more than ever, child care is a key factor in getting Iowans back to work throughout this public health emergency.
In the Ways & Means committee we passed out HF1 that doubles the threshold on income from $45,000 to $90,000 giving young families a tax credit to help pay for child care expenses. In total, this child care legislative package will take significant steps to address child care access and affordability throughout the state.
This week we dealt with two constitutional amendments. The life amendment and the 2nd amendment which deals with the right to bear arms. An amendment has a longer process than normal legislation. In the beginning, they start out the same. There is a subcommittee, committee and then a debate on the floor. Upon passage in the House, the amendment must go through the same process in the Senate. After reaching this point things change.
A constitutional amendment then must sit until a new General Assembly is elected. It then goes through the same process all over again. Only this time there needs to be no changes or amendments to the amendment for it to proceed. If it is amended in the second Assembly, the process is basically started over and will need to be approved in another General Assembly.
The Governor does not sign the amendment and has no official say in the passage of the amendment. If it passes through the process without amendments in the second meeting of the General Assembly then the final step before it can be added to the constitution is it must be voted on and approved by the majority of Iowans. Then and only then it can become a part of the constitution.
The wording of an amendment is very important. Just a couple of words can change the action of the amendment. Once part of the constitution, the words will be scrutinized by judges, attorneys and groups who want the constitution to allow or stop the actions of others.
I take amending the Iowa Constitution very seriously as you should when you have the opportunity to be part of this process. Amending the constitution is not an easy thing. The process takes years to complete. So, if you put something that could be too restrictive into the constitution, it could take years if not decades to remove.
We passed a bill out of the House that gives parents choice by requiring schools to have as one of their modes of education 100% in school in person education. This bill gives the parents the decision making regarding their children’s education back in the parents’ hands. Parents have said from the beginning, that there needs to be an option for in-person, full-time instruction. The majority of schools have provided in-person, full-time instruction, as the legislature intended. To be clear, it does not eliminate online or hybrid options for parents, it simply states that schools must provide in-person as an option to the families that prefer it.
As always, I encourage you to share your thoughts and concerns on any issue with me. Please contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org