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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

April 5 Legislative Blotter

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What’s happening in the Iowa Legislature these days?

The S&B compiled this legislative listing to keep you in the know.

HJR 14 – A proposed constitutional amendment that would have granted felons voting rights after they served their time was effectively defeated on Thursday after the Senate Judiciary Committee determined not to debate the measure. Republicans, who control both houses of the Legislature, had raised concerns over victim restitution payments and the ability of certain felons who have committed crimes such as rape or murder to vote. The resolution, supported by the Governor, had previously passed the House 95-2, with Representative Dave Maxwell in the majority.

SF 523 – A bill that would have increased the penalties for the accidental or intentional death of an “unborn person” did not make it out of committee in the House this week. The bill had previously passed the Senate, where Senator Tim Kapucian voted in favor. A controversial section of the bill defined an “unborn person” as “fertilization to live birth,” which critics argued could have had larger, negative implications for access to abortion. But supporters said that concern was overblown, because the bill was restricted to criminal actions.

SJR 18 – A resolution to amend the Iowa constitution to include explicit protections for gun owners passed earlier this year. It would add the language “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” to the constitution. To become law the resolution must pass again in 2021 or 2022 and then face a statewide referendum. The amendment had previously been set to go to a statewide referendum in 2020, but an administrative error from the Secretary of State’s office meant the legislature had to entirely restart the amendment process, and it will now be unable to go into effect until 2022 at the earliest. Both Representative Maxwell and Senator Kapucian voted in favor of the resolution.

HF 692 – An Iowa Senate committee submitted changes to a House bill that would dramatically change election law on Wednesday. The changes include closing polls at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. during general elections, requiring signature verification for mail-in ballots, and requiring that college students turn in a form before graduation to indicate if they intend to stay in Iowa or not. If they do not, they would be marked as “inactive” on the voter rolls. Critics argue these changes amount to voter suppression, while advocates argue they are necessary changes to ensure transparency and security in Iowa elections.

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