Capitol Update

March 2, 2023

Week Eight Recap

What is my favorite thing about serving in the Iowa House of Representatives? People. People. People. That translates to many conversations, ideas and challenges. My favorite quote in an email conversation this week came from Doug in Richland as we discussed the bill on child labor laws:  

“I think it is when the people in charge inspire others, then will the chain become infinitely stronger as each link stands tall, recognizing their own true ability and worth. … But, just as true, is that the people in charge are just a reflection.”

Iowa Child Advocacy Board

As a freshman legislator, it never ceases to amaze me that there are so many organizations that work diligently to protect children and families. One such group of volunteers that came recently were with the Iowa Child Advocacy Board. They train volunteer as to be Court Appointed Special Advocates or (CASA’s). These volunteers are assigned court cases of children who have been abused and/or neglected. The children often have two of three following factors that impact families. The three factors that cause these children to be categized as Child in Need of Assistance are substance abuse, domestic violence and mental health. The volunteers gather information about the child and their situation in order to advocate for permanency in a safe and stable home, hopefully with their parents. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, please let me know and I will connect you!

A Day in the Life of an Iowa Legislator

I thought it would be interesting to keep a journal one day this week. Here is what my day looked like on Tuesday!

6:50am – Arrive at capitol and join Community College Day reception. Meet with Indian Hills Community College president, Mr. Matt Thompson and Clow representative, Mark Willet, regarding their new joint apprenticeship program.

7:30am – International Relations Committee meeting – we are visited by a delegation from Ukraine. They are doctors from regional hospitals and share about their experiences but the process is slow - an interpreter translates for our meeting. Once we present a gift of a small replicate of the capitol to each of the six doctors, we gather for a quick photo.

8:30am – Gavel in. Debrief with clerk, Tressa. The Ukrainian delegation is introduced along with many bills trying to pass through funnel week.

8:50am – Respond to a request of visitor that has sent in a note – a chiropractor friend from Keosauqua that was visiting the capital before going to the girl’s state basketball tournament. Also meet for the first time, the new lobbyist that Mahaska County Supervisors have hired to address Emergency Management Commission issues across the state.

9:00am – Natural Resources Committee meeting – Ducks Unlimited gives us a program update, we have a short caucus, and pass a bill allowing physical therapists to sign off on the application for disabled people to use cross bows during the deer bow season.

10:00am – Visit with moms that attended a subcommittee on “the bathroom bill” in the Senate. It passed committee. Joined a Judiciary committee that was starting –carbon pipeline bill was on the agenda – too many people have come and some are not able to fit in the room.

10:30am - Another committee waiting to use our room, so we have to vacate. There are so many bills trying to survive this committee today but we only get through six bills but not the carbon pipeline one. Rest of the meeting postponed to 4:15.

11:00am – Des Moines Register media request – defer the interview to the sponsor of the life bill that just was read in today. It’s a very large bill and many details, but oh so important.

11:10am - Check back in with clerk on emails and write up a updated email to concerned Iowans regarding the bow hunting bill.

11:30am – Respond to a visitor request from a lobbyist. The young lady is new this year like myself. We discuss a current senate bill on distracted driving. Before reaching the chamber, discuss a bill going to committee within the hour regarding mandatory vaccine reporting.

Noon – attend a much-needed prayer meeting – focus was on life and prayer for legislatures. Not a second passed by before the 40ish mix of volunteers and elected officials offered up one prayer after another to the Lord.

1:00pm – Attend local government committee with lunch in hand and watch as the bill relating tax authority for Emergency Management passes committee but faces major amendments.

2:00pm – Conversations with volunteers regarding 50/50 shared parenting bill and carbon pipeline. Check back in with Tressa – discuss some emails and subcommittee assignments.

3:15pm – try to make it to another meeting I want to sit in on that will be discussing a bill about banning transgender surgeries but get snagged by a lobbyist who has literature regarding the distracted driving bill in the senate and have another conversation with lobbyists regarding Emergency Management bills.

4:15pm – attend Judiciary Committee meeting. Along with other bills, they pass HF 368: Eminent Domain bill protecting property rights in Iowa against private gain.

5:30pm – Get back to chamber. Have discussions with people about the previous meeting and even get checked in by the mentor that was assigned to me as a freshman. He answers some of my endless questions about chamber rules.

7:30pm – After working through a couple dozen emails and seeing only one lone reporter still feverishly at his computer, I call it day and head out to work on more emails for the night.

Oskaloosa Homeschool Group

I was pleased to welcome the students, teachers, and parents of the Oskaloosa Homeschool Assistance Program to the Capitol this past Wednesday. They had wonderful questions and it was a joy to speak with them!

Become a Poll Worker

It takes around 10,000 Iowans to staff polling places for a statewide election. 2023 isn’t a general election year, but several counties have local elections on March 7, and the statewide city-school elections take place this November. County auditors are constantly looking for more people to serve. Poll workers check-in voters, answer questions, and help ensure elections run smoothly in each precinct. It’s a great way to serve your state and nation, and you get paid! State law requires a bipartisan balance of poll workers at each precinct. To learn more, visit

Marriage Legislation Introduced

On Tuesday of this week, eight of us House members sponsored a bill that subsequently set off a firestorm of disagreement across the nation. The perception in the left leaning media has been that the bill attempts to “ban gay marriage.” I would like to offer the following information to clarify recent media confusion.


Religious Liberty and State Sovereignty (HF508)


The bill, House File 508, addresses the fact that the Federal government is operating far outside its Constitutional boundaries. Last fall, America experienced the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act. The Act erased an age-old notion that held marriage was between a man and a woman and asserted in its place was that any marriage between two individuals is valid. The Act also requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The bill I cosponsored simply emphasizes that the Federal government does not have the Constitutional authority to do such a thing because of the 10th Amendment. HR508 does not attempt to redefine or erase any existing State of Iowa court opinions (i.e. Varnum v. Brien, 2009) regarding same-sex marriage. The bill does not seek to tell same-sex couples what to believe nor does it express anything about relationships they can or cannot participate in. This bill simply seeks to challenge the federal government to put the power for those decisions rightfully back in the hands of the states. The bill also acknowledges that for people who do not define same-sex unions as marriage must not be forced to do so. HR508 aims to protect clergy and institutions of faith from prosecution and provides for continued religious liberty for all Iowans.

House Joint Resolution (HJR8)


Also submitted this week was a proposed House Joint Resolution (HJR8). This resolution is proposing a Constitutional Amendment regarding the state’s recognition of its definition of marriage. Resolutions are not the same thing as a bill - see below for how a resolution is adopted. You may recall the resolution on the ballot last year regarding the addition of our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms added to the Iowa Constitution. Currently in the Code of Iowa, section 595.2, it states, “Only a marriage between a male and female is valid.” In light of the Federal codification of same-sex marriages, HJR8 challenges all of us to have a dialogue about marriage and its place in government. Let me be clear, the resolution is not an attack against LBGT individuals. I enthusiastically acknowledge the intrinsic value we each have and the constitutional rights afforded to all Iowans. The beautiful nature of a constitutional amendment allows “We the People” the opportunity to voice their opinions through the democratic voting process of elections. As we move forward, I hope you will continue to examine dialogue with me and others as we evaluate our Constitution and the institution of marriage.

How does a resolution become an amendment?

The purpose of the Iowa Constitution is to lay out broad parameters for how the government of the State of Iowa should function. It outlines things like the structure of government (the three branches), borders, rights of the people, and more.

The Iowa Constitution can be amended (added to or changed) by the following process:

  1. Propose an amendment in either the House or Senate. This is done by drafting a House or Senate Joint Resolution.
  2. Pass the Resolution through a subcommittee and committee.
  3. The Resolution must receive a majority vote in the House.
  4. If it passes the House, it must follow the same process in the Senate and pass the Senate with a majority vote.
  5. If the Resolution passes both Houses, it must do so again in the NEXT General Assembly. (A General Assembly means all the legislators elected at the same time: a G.A. is two sessions. So, the Resolution must be brought back up after the next election and passed through both the House and Senate again.)
  6. Once the Resolution has passed through that entire process, it then becomes a ballot measure on EVERY ballot in the general election in the State of Iowa that year.
  7. The measure is voted on by the people of Iowa, and if it receives a majority vote, it becomes an amendment to the Iowa Constitution.

Tax Times: Property Tax & Local Budgets

Last week I shared an article in this newsletter about the Mahaska Emergency Management and property taxes. Because cutting property taxes is a priority for the Republican party this session, many conversations have revolved around the ways we can reduce government spending, especially on the local level. One of my first bills I brought forth this session, HF117, would reduce local spending by holding Emergency Management Commissions accountable to their county supervisors. While this bill did not pass committee, I will continue to work to lessen the tax burden of Iowans.

As it stands now, Mahaska County supervisors are obligated to levy enough property taxes sufficient to fund the budget that the EMC itself has established and certified. Let me repeat that very important point, if county supervisors agree to fund their EMC services through an additional county wide levy, they are required to fund the EMC at the level set by the commission. Basically, the commission determines how much money it wants to spend for its annual budget and the county supervisors cannot say no. As the law sits now, the county and the cities must comply with their statutory duty to provide adequate funds for the EMC budget. In Mahaska County, this is to the tune of $1,250,000 of which 83% is slated to fund only staff this year. This is steep rise compared to the $225,000 budget in 2012 when county supervisors once had a say over it. Currently, a different House bill (HF126) seeks to give full taxing authority to the EMC so that it can levy its own taxes. There is much more to say regarding this issue, but it is a great lead into this wonderful article by Iowans for Tax Relief. If you would like more information about the EMC and how I am trying to restore balance in taxation, please reach out to me. For now, find pleasure in the steps Iowa is taking to reduce taxes and remove a heavy burden off of taxpayers. 

"Iowa taxpayers have benefitted from the state legislature limiting spending in recent years. Spending restraint is what made income tax cuts possible.

It is critical that local governments follow the example set by the state and do the same thing to stop runaway property tax bills.

House Ways and Means Chair Bobby Kaufmann pointed out the sky is not falling on local government budgets. Kaufmann said, “When we debated the assessment bill last week (SF 181), all that was, was a correction. As far as I'm concerned, what was happening with the lobbying up at the Capitol was lobbying malpractice. The cities have more money in their reserve accounts than the state of Iowa.”

Republished from Iowans for Tax Relief.

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Contact Information

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, comments, or concerns you may have. I love to hear from you and want to represent you accurately! 



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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