Capitol Update

March 2, 2024

Week 8

Speaking on the floor in support of the Iowa History Initiative bill while sharing my story as a child of an orphaned immigrant. Someday I'll share that in this newsletter.

Week 8 was another challenging week... sometimes as I sit down to write this newsletter, I don't even know where to begin. The House passed 62 bills and sent them all over to the Senate for consideration. Last week, it was a similar large number. That is a lot of bills to read, a lot of issues to understand, and a lot of time spent on the debate floor. The winning bill this week that incurred the longest debate was the Iowa History Initiative Bill in which we spent three hours debating - it really was a great time! Other bill highlights included the passage of the School Safety bill, Higher Ed Reform, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Please enjoy this weekly update and do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or comments.

Iowa History Initiative Bill Passes House

In 2021 the Fordham Institute released, The State of State Standards for Civics and U.S. History. The report evaluated the quality, completeness, and rigor of K–12 civics and U.S. History standards.

Iowa received a “D” in civics standards and an “F” in U.S. History standards. According to the report, “Iowa’s current civics and U.S. History standards are inadequate. Vagueness and overbreadth lead to a dearth of specific content in both disciplines, and there is no discernible coverage of U.S. History at the K–8 level. A complete revision of the standards is recommended.”

New history and civics standards approved by House Republicans on Wednesday in House File 2544 will include a focus on American history, civics, geography, the American flag, the national anthem along with extended standards on Western Civilization from Athens, Jerusalem, and Rome to the present, to understand the nature of our ideals and institutions of liberty, how they came into existence, and what actions our forefathers took to preserve them.

The American history and civics standards will have an emphasis on the Constitution of the United States, with emphasis on the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution of Iowa and their original intent. The basic principles of the United States’ republican form of government. The historical development of the United States’ republican form of government. A comparison of the United States’ republican form of government with different forms of government including dictatorship, monarchy, oligarchy, theocracy, communism, and autocracy. The structure, function, and processes of government institutions at the federal, state, and local levels. Civic virtues exemplified in the lives of famous Americans such as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Abraham Lincoln.

The basic political, diplomatic, and military history of America, which shall include the period of discovery, early colonies, the War for Independence, the Civil War, the expansion of the United States to its present boundaries, the World Wars, the Cold War, the Civil Rights movement, and the September 11 attacks to the present. Specific information on the Holocaust and the crimes against humanity committed by communist regimes throughout history will be included.

Additionally, the basic history of business and technology in America and the basic history of the religious and secular aspects of America’s common culture will be included.

In the higher grades, substantial primary source instruction such as the Mayflower Compact, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the United States Constitution, the Federalist Papers (including but not limited to Essays 10 and 51), the Emancipation Proclamation, and the writings of the Founding Fathers of the United States will be covered.

Any curriculum on economics will include an emphasis on the free enterprise system and its benefits. It shall include material on the failures of the communist economic system and the differences between capitalist and communist economic systems.

Pekin and Fairfield FFA

FFA students from Fairfield and Pekin visited the capitol, most of them for the first time.

Miss Iowa Canidate - Brittany Costello

Brittany Costello is from Clinton, Iowa and is competing in Miss Iowa for the 3rd year. She was part of the Environmental Council Day at the Capitol. We had a great dialogue regarding water quality and water quantity in Iowa, which is her topic of focus as she seeks the Miss Iowa crown in a few short weeks.

Review of Education Standards bill

Wednesday House Republicans approved House File 2545 requiring the Iowa Department of Education to conduct a comprehensive review of the high school graduation requirements and K-12 core curriculum. A comprehensive review has not been conducted since 2007. Scores in key subject areas have fallen since then.

The review will include plans to regularly review and revise English Language Arts, mathematics, science and social studies standards. The review of social studies will have an emphasis on American history, civics and western civilization.

Additionally, the review will outline a “statewide literacy plan to increase student proficiency make Iowa the most literate state in the United States using systematic and sequential approaches to teaching phonetic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and text comprehension.”

Input from relevant stakeholders, including parents and teachers along with legislators will be part of the review process. The director of the Iowa Department of Education will issue an initial report in December prior to the 2025 legislative session.

On the Ballot for June 4th Primary

Canidates for the June primary could begin turning in their signature sheets this week to get back on the ballot for the upcoming primary. I was very pleased to have friends from my district as well as colleagues in the House, many who I met two years ago while turning in my first signature sheets, join me for this important start to a new campaign season.

U.S. Reps Henson, Feenstra Visit

U.S. House members are making their way back to Iowa to turn in their required nomination signatures also. US Representative Ashley Hensen and Randy Feenstra both visited with our caucus this week while back in Iowa.

Iowa School of the Deaf

It was colorful at the Capitol this week as students from the Iowa School for the Deaf and students with the Iowa School for the Visually Impaired and Blind in Council Bluffs opened up our week by leading the pledge of allegiance verbally and in sign language.

Mahaska County Supervisor Mark Groenendyk joined his daughter Lydia at the Capitol during her visit with the school. After hearing her sing at the Mahaska County reading of the Declaration of Independence this past summer, I sure wished I could have heard her beautiful voice ring throughout the dome with another song!

AEA Update

An AEA bill was passed through the House this week and sent to the Senate after House members received much feedback from parents, teachers, superintendents, the AEAs, the Department of Education, and more. Since the drop of the Governor’s AEA bill at the beginning of session, I have noticed and shared these three things:

  1. Everyone agreed that there was room for improvement in the AEA’s. 
  2. There existed practical solutions to make improvement.
  3. The process needed to slow down. 

I have also stated at forums, in my newsletter, and in all communication that I have conducted in the last two months, that I invited specific input, i.e. constructive criticism to propose ideas on how to improve AEA’s. 

Many solutions have come forth and after due diligence, the House approved its organic version of an AEA bill. Here are some brief highlights:

This bill DOES:

Implement the special education task force recommendations agreed upon by both public and private schools.

Retain operational sharing for schools and AEA's.

Significantly reduce the number of Department of Education positions.

Require schools to use AEA’s for special education services.

Create a task force to look at services as requested by stake holders. The task force will examine pieces we have passed in the bill that will not be implemented before the task force meets.

This bill does NOT:

Make any changes to special education services.

Allow the Department of Education to provide special education services.

Create disruptions to special education services.

Terminate any employees of the AEA’s. 

Prohibit the AEAs ability to perform any of the services they do now.  

The passage of this House bill is only a single step in the process. The Senate must now decide to take the bill up, amend it, reject it, send over their version, etc. There is still a tedious process before any AEA bill potentially goes before the Govenor.

Special Note: I have previously voiced my opposition to the Govenor's bill and to the method by which this bill was rolled out and would like to share why I voted in favor of the latest amendment. To begin with, my hope was that once the AEA, superintendents and legislators all "came to the table," they could subsequently go away with some sort of palatable negotiation. During this entire process, the AEA has been registered "against" the original House bill. Once our latest amendment was passed, the AEA's changed their position to "undecided," just as we had been told to expect upon passage of the amendment. This means to all of us that the position of the AEA was no longer in opposition to what the House had proposed. Also, following many agreeable conversations with district superintendents and other AEA staff, I felt comfortable being a "yes" vote. I have always sought transparency in my decision making and welcome that now. Please contact me if you are upset about my vote and I would be happy to discuss other reasons in greater detail.

Read the Fiscal Note:

House amended AEA bill:

Improving School Safety

After meeting with school administrators, law enforcement, and teachers, Republicans in the House developed legislative solutions that will make our students and staff safer at school. This week we passed HF 2586, which focuses on personnel able and ready to protect students in the event of an emergency. The details include:

Schools with enrollment over 8,000 shall employ at least one school resource officer or private security officer. Schools can opt out of this requirement with a vote of their school board.  A grant program is created to help schools pay for these positions. 

Creates a new permit that allows a school employee to carry weapons on school properties and receive qualified immunity if they meet the high standards in this bill.

Currently, Iowa code 724.4B allows schools to authorize their employees to carry on school property. This bill creates a new professional permit and sets an extensive standard of training that school employees must complete.

School districts are not required to participate. However, in subcommittee we heard from many superintendents eager to take part in a program like this. 

No teacher or school employee is required to take this training - it is entirely voluntary.

To be issued one of these professional permits, a school employee must undergo extensive training. This includes legal training on qualified immunity, annual emergency medical training, annual communication training, annual live scenario training, quarterly live-fire training, and passing an annual background check.

This sets a high standard. Because we are talking about the safety of our children, the bar must be high. We recognize that this responsibility must be taken very seriously.

Even with the best attempts at prevention, the reality is that bad things can still happen. This bill will ensure more people in our school buildings are prepared to respond in an emergency.

Interviews and Prayer

April Pupp, a journalism student at Drake University, requested an interview regarding the topic of odor control. While she is from Wisconsin, her research was focused on the source and scope of odor problems in Iowa.

Representatives and Senators are not only called out of chamber by visitors and lobbyists but often times by pastors who take the time to travel to the capitol to individually meet with us and petition the Lord on our behalf. Pastor Darren Melton of the Gateway Church of the Nazarene was one of several pastors to meet and pray with me this week. When asked for my prayer requests... I asked for greater discernment to conduct the duties of my office honorably.

When I spotted this group of young 4-Hers sitting in the gallery waiting for floor debate to begin, I had to find out where they were from! As a long time 4-H leader, parent, judge and superintendent, I am a big fan of this green clover organization! This group of youth drove three hours from Fayette County and after their tour, could only stay for the passage of a few bills. All of the public is welcome to watch floor debates at any time so please make an effort to do so.

Where is your Refund?

If you are ahead of the game and have already filed your Iowa return, you can use the “Where's My Refund” to check on its status. Simply go to You will need to use the same information used on your return: Social Security Number, Tax Year, and Refund Amount.

The information in this web portal is updated in real-time and is the same if you call Taxpayer Services. When your return is processed, you will see the date your refund was issued. The anticipated time frame for refund processing is 30 days. The Department issues $825.0 million in individual income tax refunds per calendar year. Most are issued before the end of May.

There are various things that can delay a return’s processing. A few examples are mailing a paper return, not choosing direct deposit, having errors on a return, missing documentation, and returns identified for additional review. Iowa returns are due April 30th

How to support Helena for House

What do people like me need for support as elected officials in a state office?

* Prayer (the key!)

* Your input - either for or against the issues

* Volunteers

* Yards for signage (both yard sign and barn signs/4x8)

* "Word-of-mouth" support by expressing your approval to others

* and of course, financial donations if you choose:

Hayes for House, Treasurer

2812 170th Street

New Sharon, Iowa 50207

Thank you all!!

Upcoming Events

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

Coffee & Conversation (Formerly Eggs & Issues)

To be held at Smokey Row Oskaloosa (109 S Market St. Oskaloosa, IA) on the following dates:

  • March 23rd @ 8:30 to 9:30 am

Fairfield Chamber of Commerce Forum

To be held at the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center (200 N. Main Street. Fairfield, IA) on the following dates:

  • April 20th @ 7:30 am

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


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

Donation Information

Click here to view this email in your web browser.

Facebook  Email  Web