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Legislative Update

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The Iowa legislature

The Iowa legislature

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Public Domain

The Iowa legislature

Becca Turnis, Web Editor

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The first Iowa Legislative session of 2018 started on January 8.  Legislators have been hard at work debating several vital issues, having already passed a water quality bill into law. As of press time, the legislature still has a multitude of open debates including abortion laws, and gun rights, as a well as some smaller issues that have yet to gain steam.

Senate File 253, also known as “The Personhood Bill” would effectively ban abortions in Iowa. The bill was two votes shy of passing the Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee last session and drew multitudes of protesters to the capitol building last session. The debate is scheduled to rage on this year. “I don’t think there is enough support for [the personhood bill]. It is such extreme legislation. It would reduce access to anything that is hormone-based birth control, and it would take away a lot of options for infertility treatments,” State Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames, told The Des Moines Register.

Students at Wash have varying opinions on the bill. “I don’t think [abortion] should be up to the lawmakers; it’s the person’s choice if they want to have an abortion or not. So  I don’t think they should make the rule if somebody can get one or not,” said Jarrett Dulan ’19.

Another big issue in the Legislature this session is gun rights. House Joint Resolution 13 seeks to add the right to bear arms to the Iowa constitution. The bill states, “The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes the fundamental right of the people to acquire, keep, possess, transport, carry, transfer, and use arms for all legitimate purposes. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”

Strict scrutiny is one of three types of judicial review, and it is the most rigorous. It requires the state to use the least restrictive means necessary to achieve a compelling government objective. Forty-four other states include the right to keep and bear arms in their state constitutions, but only three use the “strict scrutiny” standard. “It really is still a red flag for me that a vast minimum of states have this strict scrutiny language,” Rep. Liz Bennett, D-Cedar Rapids, who served on the subcommittee but voted against the bill, told The Register.

A third bill people should watch for is House Study Bill 573. While still in its early stages, the bill could require Iowa students to pass a civics exam to graduate high school. The exam is currently given to immigrants who want to become U.S. citizens.

If passed, the bill would affect current freshmen and sophomores. “I think it’s good that we have the option to see if we know the requirement and also kind of open our eyes to what [immigrants] have to go through, but then again, I think it’s kinda ridiculous that it [would be] required to graduate and I just don’t think it should be a requirement,” said Tanaya Sylvester- Lyon, ’20.

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About the Writer
Becca Turnis, Web Editor/Copy Editor
I am a senior and the web editor, as well as one of the copy editors for The Surveyor. I am also the pit section leader for the Warrior Marching Band, the President of Washington’s Gay-Straight Alliance, and I am on the bowling team.
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