Capitol Update

March 10, 2023

Week Nine Recap

Hope for Justice Event

I was honored to attend Hope for Justice's Celebration of Hope event last week. Hope for Justice runs anti-trafficking projects all over the world, working directly with victims and survivors. Their community initiatives help to prevent modern slavery from happening in the first place.

Representative Thompson (pictured, far right) sponsored a bill (HF630) that would create increased penalties for human trafficking: sex trafficking and labor trafficking. This bill passed the House with a 96 to 0 vote on Thursday afternoon!

Cattlemen Constituents

I enjoyed the opportunity to meet with these constituents from Sigourney and Fairfield. They visited as part of the Iowa Cattlemen at the Capitol event. The Iowa Cattlemen's Association provides advocacy, leadership, and education for the cattle producers of our state.

Protect My Innocence Day at the Capitol

Some friends from back home came to visit for Protect My Innocence Conversations at the Capitol this week. Protect My Innocence is an advocacy group that was birthed out of the Pella pool incident in 2021. They have been pushing back against the sexualization of children in Iowa by opposing pornography in libraries, gender transition surgeries/hormone therapy, gender identity and all the other things that are destroying the innocence of children. Please check out their website at:

Change of Address

The annual National Change of Address process to update Iowa’s voter registration records is underway. Notices are being mailed to 90,948 registered voters in Iowa who filed a change of address with the U.S. Postal Service during the past 12 months. Voters that receive these cards should follow the instructions on the return postcard to verify or correct their voting address, sign and return it to their county auditor’s office as soon as possible. Postage is prepaid.

Bills Protecting Children Passed

On Wednesday afternoon/evening, the House debated several controversial bills. It was a lengthy evening with intense discussion on multiple bills.

I would like to highlight the following bills, which passed out of the House:

(Click the links to read full bills)

HF 348- No sexual orientation/gender identity instruction for grades K-6.

HF 623- Prohibits transgender surgeries and related procedures for minors .

HF 348 prohibits instruction related to gender identity or sexual orientation in school districts or charter schools in grades Kindergarten through 6th. Current Iowa Code Section 256.11 details what subject areas are to be taught in public and charter schools in Iowa. The current requirement is for "age-appropriate and research-based human growth and development" to be taught in grades K-6 in each school district. This bill adds a new code section (279.77) which states that a school district may not provide any program, curriculum, test, survey, questionnaire, promotion, or instruction relating to gender identity

or sexual orientation to students in kindergarten through grade six. The bill does not eliminate the human growth and development instruction, only requires that instruction to be in compliance with the new section.

Opponents of the bill argue that it would "ban any mention of sexual orientation or gender identity" and will put the lives of kids at risk as it "censors public schools from providing information or talking about LGBTQ+ families." This is far from the truth! The bill simply addresses curriculum and classroom activities. It does not "ban" students from discussing topics related to gender identity on their own, nor does it ban students or teachers from speaking about their families who may happen to identify as LGBTQ.

Sensitive social issues such as these should be introduced and discussed by parents, not the school district or teachers. Parents have the right AND the responsibility to teach their children about such matters.

HF 623 makes it illegal to perform a sex-change surgery or administer cross-sex hormones to a minor in the state of Iowa. These surgeries and therapies, which are often referred to as "gender-affirming care" are definitively damaging and most often irreversible. They are not actual medical "care," but rather are dangerous, untested methods of mutilating a child's body in the name of caring for them.

Children, who our state considers too young to drive, vote, or consume alcohol, certainly cannot have the presence of mind to make such a life-altering and potentially dangerous decision. Gender-transition treatments have many potential side effects including castration or cardiovascular disease: children cannot give informed consent for these procedures.

God created our bodies and has assigned each person to a biological sex for a reason. This is non-negotiable! Sex-specific hormones play a vital part in the growth, development, and wellbeing of each person. When artificial cross-sex hormones are administered, it creates even more instability in that person's body, nervous system, mind, and emotions.

The argument we heard most frequently in the debate was, "if these children don't have access to transgender surgeries, they will commit suicide." This claim is simply false. There are many other options for children and teens facing the distress of gender dysphoria. If a teacher, parent, or other adult notices a child's mental distress, they should work with mental health counselor to help the child through that difficult time. The answer is not to chemically castrate that child or cut off their healthy body parts. This will only create further problems and distress for that child as they grow to adulthood.

We are doing children a grave disservice by telling them that the only way to be comfortable in their own body or be mentally stable is to completely change and harm their God-given body.

Children should be given time and wise counsel to make decisions with such high consequences. They should be heard and cared for, not convinced to medically alter their developing body through experimental treatments and drugs.

501(c)3 in the Church

Last summer I attended a conference in Cedar Rapids and enjoyed a deeply provoking workshop by Wall Builders founder, David Barton. He shared that less than fifty percent of church goers are involved in anything political, including voting at election time. The idea that churches are somewhat “muzzled” when it comes to politics, has been the narrative for decades.

However, the reality is that churches with 501(c)3 status have much more liberty than most people think. It all began in 1954 with the Johnson Amendment. This legislation, named after its main sponsor, Senator Lyndon Johnson, stated that churches and nonprofit organizations are exempt from taxation but, “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

The amendment requires that those who hold a tax-exempt status cannot collect donations for political campaigns or make statements in support or against candidates. Most notably, clergy cannot endorse candidates from the pulpit.

However, the good news and lesser known fact is that having a tax-exempt status does NOT

prohibit all political activity. The law does allow:

1. Nonpartisan voter education activities

2. Voter registration drives

3. Pastors to preach on social and political issues of concern

4. Voter “guides” to be published by the churches

For quite some time, various groups have sought to overturn the Johnson Amendment, mostly stating that it restricts free speech by censoring what a pastor can and cannot say. Others have said it's also about money and politics, claiming that if the law were overturned, campaign finance could be greatly impacted because with the ability to be involved in a political campaign,

churches could potentially play a greater role in politics.

One simple thing is certain, those who vote and get involved in politics most certainly influence the direction of the country. It has been eight weeks since I was officially sworn in as Representative for House District 88 and now undoubtably conclude that even though many arguments have been cast as to why the church should stay out of politics, it would certainly behoove the faith community to examine and challenge their own understanding and place in politics.

What does a lobbyist do?

I enjoyed speaking with this lobbyist from Iowa Catholic Charities regarding pro-life and pro-family bills.

If you ever walk around the Capitol and see people standing outside of the House and Senate chambers professionally dressed, many of them are lobbyists!

A lobbyist is someone who is hired or appointed by a company or organization to advocate for the passage or failure of certain legislation relating to the interests of the group they represent. Lobbyists are hired by many different groups, from the Hospital Association to the Department of Transportation and everything in between.

Lobbyists are present at the Capitol while the legislature is in session. They establish relationships with legislators and make efforts to speak with or contact them about the legislation that is important to the group they represent. Lobbyists also attend subcommittee and committee meetings on their bills of interest, as well as submitting comments in the online legislature system. They keep track of the progress of those bills for their group and keep them updated.

What is a "Funnel"?

You may have heard news sources or others refer to the "funnel" deadline in the legislature. There are a series of deadlines in the legislative calendar that ensure that action is taken and help to narrow down the number of bills that are eligible to be considered in a given session.

The deadlines for this session are as follows:

February 10: Final day for individual Senators or Representatives to request a bill or joint resolution be drafted by the Legislative Services Agency.

March 3: Deadline for House legislation to be passed through House committees, and Senate legislation to be passed through Senate committees. (First Funnel)

March 31: Deadline for House legislation to be passed through Senate committees, and Senate legislation to be passed out of House committees. (Second Funnel)

There are other guidelines and regulations on what can be considered by either the House or Senate, but these are the deadlines most often referred to.

Read more about the Session Timetable here.

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Contact Information

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Phone: 515.281.3221

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Upcoming Events

Here are the dates for upcoming forums I will be at! I welcome all constituents to join me for these meetings. I want to hear what you have to say!

Eggs & Issues at Smokey Row Oskaloosa (109 S Market St. Oskaloosa, IA) will take place on these dates:

March 25 - 8:30-9:30am

Fairfield Chamber of Commerce Legislative Forum at the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center (200 North Main St. Fairfield, IA)

will take place on these dates:

April 8 - 7:30-9:00am

If you have any questions about these events, don't hesitate to reach out to me. Forums and events will be posted on my Facebook page as well as here in the newsletter!

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