Capitol Update

March 23, 2023

Week Eleven Recap

Representative Shipley and I enjoyed chatting with the Hickenbottom family and Andy Alexander during their visit to the Capitol. They were in attendance when House File 565 (more information below) was voted to pass by the Iowa House!

Oskaloosa Herald Article

Thank you to the Oskaloosa Herald reporter Channing Rucks for attending our carbon pipeline discussion last week and covering the event. Read her informative article at this link!

What is a Subcommittee?

In the process of a bill making its way to becoming a law, a subcommittee is one of the most vital steps! Once a bill is read for the first time, it is assigned to a committee (a smaller group of legislators focused on a specific area of government), then the Committee Chairperson will assign that bill to a subcommittee of their choosing. 

A subcommittee typically consists of three members: two from the majority party and one from the minority party. These members then hold a meeting which is open to the public to attend and speak at. These meetings must be scheduled the day before to provide notice to those wishing to attend. Subcommittees are also live-streamed on the Iowa Legislature Website [link]. 

The subcommittee meeting (or “sub” for short) is really where the bill is placed under a microscope. The members examine it beforehand and hear what the citizens and lobbyists have to say regarding the proposed legislation. Subcommittee meetings are completely focused on the bill at hand and making a determination on whether it should continue to committee or be discarded. 

Subcommittees are an often overlooked, yet vital part of the legislative process. When advocating for or against a certain bill, attending the subcommittee to speak or submitting comments online is an effective way to have your voice heard. If you can’t attend, contacting the members of the subcommittee via email is an option as well. Often, the subcommittee members want to hear both sides of the issue, as their vote can sometimes determine if a bill proceeds or dies. 

If a bill passes subcommittee, there is no guarantee it will make it to the full House or Senate or even the full committee! It is up to the Committee Chair’s discretion if the bill is brought up to the committee for approval/failure. 

Senate File 516: Public Lands


I recently served on the subcommittee for Senate File 516, after the bill had made its way through the Senate and was assigned to our House Environmental Protection Committee. I have received many emails about this bill, and hope to explain what is and isn’t happening, as well as some concerns myself and others have in regards to the bill. 

What does SF 516 do? 

Senate File 516 relates to Iowa’s acquisition and upkeep of state-owned land. Broadly stated, this bill gives direction to the Department of Natural Resources regarding how it should prioritize its objectives.

  • Requires the DNR to prepare a statewide, long-range plan that prioritizes the maintenance and protection of open space property. 
  • The plan shall contain the DNR’s criteria in identifying land for potential acquisition, and requires the DNR to first consider landowner partnership programs as an alternative to outright acquisition. 
  • The DNR is permitted to consult with state, local, and federal agencies along with private organizations for input. 
  • This plan will be submitted to the General Assembly by July 1st, 2024.
  • Requires the DOT to prepare a long-range plan that prioritizes the development, promotion, management, and potential acquisition of recreational trails. 
  • The plan will include the DOT’s criteria for trail acquisition and will focus on connecting and improving existing trails when possible. 
  • The DOT is permitted to consult with the DNR and IEDA as well as organizations representing trail users. 
  • This plan will be submitted to the General Assembly by January 15th, 2024.
  • Both the DNR and DOT will review their plan every five years and amend the plan as necessary.
  • This bill also strikes expired sections of Chapter 465A.


What do opponents of the bill say? 

Top concerns surrounding this bill relate to vague language and the prioritizing of maintenance over acquiring new land. Opponents say that access to public lands and wild spaces in Iowa is already limited, and there are already comprehensive plans in place for the restoration and upkeep of these lands. The main concern is that this legislation would limit or even completely stop the opportunity for growth of Iowa’s public lands and open spaces like state parks, recreational trails, and so forth. Opponents also argue that the creation or re-creation of plans would not be an efficient use of the DNR’s resources. 

What do supporters of the bill say? 

Proponents of the bill argue that the limiting of state land acquisition would actually be beneficial. They believe the State of Iowa should focus on maintenance of the land it already owns and slow its efforts to buy more land. Supporters are also concerned that more land acquisition by the DNR would equal less land available for farming operations, specifically new farmers looking to get started. Supporters have also drawn in to question the ethics of the financing methods used by the Natural Heritage Foundation to acquire new land. 

The latest:

The bill was passed out of subcommittee and assigned to the Environmental Protection Committee this week. However, due to a lack of support, the bill has now been moved to State Government. If you are concerned about this topic, I recommend you reach out to committee members as soon as possible. Next week is funnel week and if this bill is to remain alive, it must pass out of the committee process by March 31st. My position is that the actual language of the bill needs clarified and I am working towards addressing the many concerns brought up to me.

HF 565: Landowner Rights for Iowans

This week, the Iowa House passed a bill to protect landowner rights as three major CO2 pipeline projects are in the works in Iowa.

This bill gets at the crux of the issue – eminent domain should not be used for private gain. It requires that carbon capture pipeline companies to reach voluntary easements for 90% of the land on their route before they could seek to use eminent domain. It also creates an interim study committee that will make recommendations that will improve eminent domain policy in Iowa. It will take a look at the following issue that have been discussed at length throughout this process:

  • Standards for entering land for surveying purposes
  • Review of land restoration standards
  • Review of eminent domain public benefit and private use tests
  • Engineering study analysis
  • Land compensation practices and procedures
  • Iowa Utility Board perspectives

I understand that this bill may not be seen as perfect by folks on either side of this issue. We want to support the ethanol industry while ensuring landowners rights are respected. We think this bill strikes that balance. The bill stands in opposition to the use of eminent domain to construct the pipelines. These companies should not be able to use the heavy hand of government to abuse landowner rights.

Dozens of property owners opposed to the Pipeline and other uses of eminent domain gathered in the House Gallery for the debate on HF 565.

Teacher Empowerment Legislation

On Wednesday, March 22nd the Iowa House of Representatives passed House File 604- an act for teacher empowerment. This bill addresses several concerns we House members have been hearing from teachers across the state. 

What the bill does: 

  • Allows the ombudsman to investigate any complaint received by any teacher or school staff member (who holds a license or similar certification from the Board of Educational Examiners) related to violence in the classroom or other violations of state law. 

  • Requires the ombudsman to maintain secrecy in respect to the identities of the complainants.

  • If a school district requires an employee to participate in a professional development program, the school district is required to communicate to the employee indicating the section of the Code, or rules the district determines requires the employee to participate in that program.

  • Requires schools to provide to all teachers a copy of Code section 280.21 after entering into an initial contract with the teacher and each time the contract is renewed. Code section 280.21 states that an employee of a school is prohibited from inflicting corporal punishment upon a student. It also provides that physical contact with a student that is reasonable and necessary under the circumstances and that is not designed or intended to cause pain is not corporal punishment.


  • Requires a teacher to notify the parent or guardian of a student within 24 hours after the teacher witnesses the student suffer a bodily injury.

  • Prohibits schools from taking any disciplinary action against an employee for disclosing information to any public official or law enforcement agency if the employee or contractor reasonably believes the information evidences a violation of law or rule. 

  • Allows a teacher to remove a disruptive student from the classroom under the supervision of a resource officer or lead administrator, and gives guidelines for disciplinary practices for first, second, and third occurrences. 

Who is the Ombudsman? 

The Office of Ombudsman serves as an independent and impartial agency that handles citizen’s complaints or issues with other government agencies. They facilitate communication between citizens and government, and make recommendations to improve practices and procedures. The ombudsman promotes responsiveness and quality in government. 

The Ombudsman has authority to investigate complaints about Iowa state and local government, with certain exceptions. The Ombudsman attempts to resolve most problems informally. Following an investigation, the Ombudsman may make findings and recommendations and publish a report.

The Ombudsman is appointed by the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council is a bi-partisan group, comprised mostly of party leadership of both the House and Senate, that is appointed as the “steering committee” of the legislature during the interim (time outside of the Legislative Session). Once the Ombudsman is appointed by the Legislative Council, his/her appointment must be approved by a constitutional majority of both the House and Senate. 

How this bill empowers teachers: 

While the Iowa House Republicans have passed bills to protect children from bad actors and those with nefarious intentions in schools, the party also wants to support and protect the thousands of wonderful teachers we have in our state! This legislation is a great starting point for that. It gives teachers an advocate at the state level (the Ombudsman) should they need one, makes sure they know their rights, and assures protections when they speak out, without fear of losing their jobs.

Tax Times: Retirement Income Tax

"Last year, the Iowa Legislature passed an historic tax reform measure covering a variety of income sources. This legislation was not only the largest tax cut in Iowa history, but also the most comprehensive tax reform in the entire nation.

A flat 3.9 percent income tax will replace the progressive nine-bracket income tax rate system by 2026. The corporate tax will also shrink gradually, until it reaches a flat 5.5 percent. On top of these reforms, retirement income will become exempt from taxation starting this year. Although it is perhaps difficult for some Iowans to believe, our state will no longer tax retirement income."

Republished from Iowans for Tax Relief. Read the full article here!

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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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