Capitol Update

March 9, 2024

Week 9

Speaking on the floor in support of the Deep Fake Revenge Porn Bills which passed through the House this week, and will provide our citizens, especially minors, protection from "deep fakes"

This week we passed two bills to address the issue of pornography created through artificial intelligence.

As technology has advanced, these are, unfortunately, updates to code that need to be made to protect Iowans. With these bills, we can ensure that there is no loophole in the law that would allow someone who commits this disturbing offense to avoid proper punishment.

The first bill, HF 2240, expands the definition of harassment to include using fake or altered images of another in a sexual manner without their consent. The second bill, HF 2241, addresses AI-generated porn related to minors. This bill makes it a felony to create or possess an AI-generated pornographic content of a minor.

It was an honor to introduce this legislation and advocate for its passage with the assistance of Mahaska County Attorney, Andrew Ritland.

Parental Consent for Social Media

In a bipartisan manner, we passed a bill through the House to help parents and kids navigate the ever-changing world of social media.

As social media has gotten more popular, we’ve seen the mental health of children decline. Social media can have negative impacts on kids’ self-esteem, result in cyberbullying, and expose kids to inappropriate content. Right now, it’s tough for parents to keep up with all the new, trending social media apps.

This bill would require social media apps to get parental permission before anyone under the age of 18 could create an account on their platform. Under this bill, it would be against the law for social media companies to gather data on kids without permission from parents.

This bill puts parents back in the driver’s seat when it comes to their kids’ data and the impact social media can have on their mental health. The bill has been sent to the Senate. Please sure to express your support of it to your senator.

Read the bill here: HF2255

Amazing Visitors!

Even superhero's visit the capitol and who better than Captain America!

UNI filled the Rotunda this week with many student programs. Some of my favorite individuals to visit with were international students including Ben from the Jiangxi Provience of China, Barry from Burkina Faso, and Francie from Ghana.


The learning never stops... I had the opportunity to meet with some great advocates for IRIS; a free radio reading service that reads print information aloud to over 11,000 print-disabled listeners throughout Iowa. Volunteers sit down in front of an IRIS microphone and read aloud from their local newspapers each day. If you know someone who could benefit from their assistance, visit

Election Integrity

This week we passed House File 2610 to continue our track record of ensuring safe and secure elections in Iowa.

This bill contains the following policies:

  • Creates an affidavit envelope for absentee voters to affix their signature and verification number. This will ensure Voter ID will be required, even if you vote absentee.
  • It removes the use of ballot drop boxes, which have become unnecessary with the COVID-19 pandemic behind us.
  • It bans ranked choice voting in Iowa.
  • It strengthens the Safe at Home program to protect the confidentiality of voters who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, stalking or assault.
  • Absentee ballots must be received by close of business the Monday before Election Day.
  • If a voter is unsure if their absentee ballot has been received by the Monday before Election Day, they can check with their county auditor, and vote on election day if necessary.

Any change we have ever made to voting laws in Iowa, some have claimed we are making it harder to vote. Rather, in every election, Iowans have been smart enough to follow the law and cast their ballots in droves.

Income-Based Programs

One of the many bills we passed through the House this week was a bill that will prohibit cities and counties from establishing guaranteed income-based programs unless a state law directs otherwise. In the photo above you will see Representative names in green who voted in favor of the bill and in red, those who voted against it.

It came to our attention that a pilot program began last year in Iowa, that would give a $500 monthly paycheck to 110 individuals in Polk, Dallas or Warren counties. One Representative called the program "socialism on steroids."

I believe these programs will do much more harm than good. They will increase government dependency, rather than reward Iowans’ hard work and independence. I supported the bill with a yes vote.

Carbon Pipeline Update

I have often wondered why the eminent domain threat to property owners does not get the attention of more people. I suppose it is likely because until it affects someone’s private property directly, the danger is far from their concern. The use of eminent domain is generally limited to the confiscation of private property when it is deemed statutorily “necessary and convenient.” But as we have seen in the controversial carbon sequestration pipelines, private companies are going to use eminent domain for their own private gain…to the tune of billions of dollars of course.

The article link below is a prime example of why private property rights should concern all of us now and in the future. The CO2 company, Navigator-Greenway, LLC, pulled its pipeline project last year that once stretched the entire diagonal length through Iowa.

It traversed through all of Mahaska County but only small portions of Keokuk and Jefferson County, affecting every single county in my House district. Since they pulled the entire project out of Iowa, Summit has picked up most of their ethanol plants and now, just as this article states, "A review of the expansion routes filed with the IUB shows that they will include about 340 miles of new pipe in 22 counties.”

The key thing to note here is that what happens to eminent domain in the coming year or so matters because if you are a property owner, you could be the next one to face this coming threat.

I have been diligent in support for property rights throughout this past year and continue to be as I help spearhead a legislative group of twenty Iowa House of Representative members. Through a motion to intervene in the Summit hearing, we have staunchly sought to oppose the CO2 pipeline on behalf of public. Due to the recent expansion of the Summit route, we continue to examine ways in which we can support landowners. Next week, I expect to see the only eminent domain bill of this session: HF2522. I expect that it will pass the House just fine and sent over to the senate where we will wait for them to take it up.

Supporting Independent Pharmacys

Since Thursday, March 7th, I have been flooded with emails encouraging my support on legislation for independent pharmacies such as Mahaska Drug. I would like to share with my newsletter readers my response to anyone who reached out to me about this:

1. To begin with, as of this past Thursday morning, I have received almost 100 emails from Mahaska County residents, and I am so thankful for that. By far, this is the greatest number of emails that I have received from my own county since being sworn into office in January 2023.

2. I want to emphasis to you that lifelong Mahaska County residents and owners of Mahaska Drug, John and Jean Nicholson, were awarded the Good Neighbor Pharmacy of the Year in June 2023. Please understand this was not a state award, it was a national award, and they were recognized from among 3,500 other pharmacies. Truly, an impressive award that demonstrates their decades long commitment to their patients, costumers, and the community. 

3. Your support of Mahaska Drug and other independent Iowa pharmacies is critical right now. I want you to know that I fully support them and I am working hard to move real PBM reform that will allow them to continue to meet the needs of their customers with the high quality of service they have always provided. I am in frequent communication with the Nicholsons and am doing everything I can to fight for them and all independent Iowa pharmacies in the Iowa House. 

4. I ask that you continue to be vocal about your support and that it be concentrated to also include the House and Senate leadership, whose direction and decision making is crucial regarding this bill. You can find their information at the link below. Also, the two senators who share in representing Mahaska County would benefit from hearing from you. They are Senators Ken Rozenboom and Adrian Dickey. Even if you have reached out to them via an email, I would encourage you to call the switchboard and leave a voice mail directed to them. It will then be sent to their email inbox, and they can listen to it from there. Switchboard numbers are listed below. If I may ask, please attempt to connect with them no later than next Wednesday. Here is why:

5. The House is likely scheduled to discuss and debate the BPM bill that you reference in your email at the start of this coming week, March 8. Once passed out of the House, it will be sent directly to the Senate. I am encouraging my colleagues in the House and Senate to strengthen this bill so that it can live up to the “comprehensive” perception that is being portrayed. This is where things can get complicated but it all boils down to the fact that independent pharmacies should be able to get a fair reimbursement from the PBM company for the cost of the drug; they should at least break even when they fill your prescription – and right now, they do not many times. Nor does this bill ensure that. Here is how the process works: 

There are THREE players in this situation:

1. The insurance company. They provide the health insurance to a business, county, or other entity. Blue Cross/Blue Shield is an example of one of the largest health insurance companies in Iowa and the company that state employees, like myself, are insured under.

2. The pharmacy. Iowa has only about 250 independently owned pharmacies left. Many independent pharmacies have been bought up or replaced by large, chain stores such as CVC and Hy-Vee over the last decade. 

3. The pharmacy benefit manager (PBM). They are a third-party company that functions as a middleman between the insurance company and the pharmacy. They exist to manage the cost of prescription drugs for the insurance company, employee and health care plans. 

The bill that we are likely to debate Monday does not go far enough in fair practices for our independent pharmacies. We are being told that to require PBM’s to pay what is known as the “NADAC reimbursement cost,” will force insurance companies to raise their premiums. This argument is addressed in a video I am attaching below. If you are compelled to further understand this issue, please watch the roundtable discussion. You can go directly to comments made about PBMs at around the 20-minute mark or so.

6. Since before I was elected to the Iowa House last year, legislation was introduced but it has never gone far enough or been strong enough to be fair towards independent pharmacies. Thankfully, Mahaska Drug has been able to hold on to their business during this time, but things must change. Your pressure directed in the right place will help. 

7. My apologies if this is a bit too much but I am striving to keep those that I represent informed. So please go through the information below as much as you are able and do more than just reach out to me. Now that I have your email address though, I will send you further updates on the PBM bill as I am able. Also, I put out a weekly newsletter via email and I intend to add your email address to it so that you can receive my weekly updates and stayed informed. If you wish to not receive them, please just unsubscribe. 

Thank you all for supporting Mahaska Drug and Iowa’s other independent pharmacies. Please let me know if you have any other questions. 

Here is the link to the House and Senate Leadership. The top three names are of key importance.

Switchboard Phone numbers. A quick voicemail is helpful. Be sure to mention your name, where you are from, return contact information, and who should receive your voicemail when you leave the message:

House: (515)281-3221

Senate: (515)725-4122

Video of Mark Cuban on Independent Pharmacies and PBMs. Of all the information I have sent to you this is a must watch video and is ONLY two minutes long. 

Video of Roundtable on Lowering Healthcare Costs and Bringing Transparency to Prescription Drug Middlemen. BPM discussion starts around the 20:00 mark:

John and Jane’s National Award:

Watch John Nicholsons WHO news cast here:

Read the PBM bill (HF2401) here:

This is who has lobbied against this legislation:

This is what the bill (HF2401) does in a nutshell:

-Help pharmacies get reimbursed for services (like test and treat) they perform within their scope of practice. 

-Disallows a PBM to charge an employer group or third-party payor more for prescription drugs than the amount the pharmacy benefits manager reimburses the pharmacy for dispensing the prescription. This is called “spread pricing.” If the employer group decides they want the PBM to utilize spread pricing, the spread goes back to the employer group.

-Strengthens the appeals language so when pharmacies believe they get reimbursed below the cost to purchase a drug, there is a process by which a pharmacy can appeal to have the chance to break even. Today, no formal process exists. According to the Insurance Commissioner, pharmacies made 72,000 complaints about PBMs over the past year. 99% of those complaints were directly related to being reimbursed below cost.

This bill does bring improvements to pharmacies, but I would like emphasis that real reform begins when PBM’s reimburse the pharmacy at least the NADAC reimbursement (National Drug Average Acquisition Cost) or at least the AAC (Average Acquisition Cost). If the PBM’s would give them the full and fair reimbursement amount of the cost of the drug, then the pharmacy could at least break even when they fill the prescription. This is not asking too much. It is only asking to be treated fair. 

Reform should also include reimbursement from the PBM for dispensing the drug. On average, it costs the pharmacy a minimum of $12.00 to fill a prescription. This cost occurs when the pharmacy fills the prescription, advises the patient and processes the transaction.

Religious Freedom

The original Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was passed in 1993 and signed into federal law by then-President Bill Clinton. Democrats championed the bill as one that protects the religious beliefs of Americans and keeps the federal government from substantially burdening a person’s free exercise of religion. In 1996, the United States Supreme Court determined that federal RFRA did not apply to states and if states want to implement RFRA they must pass their own state law. Senate File 2095 is Iowa’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act and after a contentious debate, it is headed to the Governor for her signature.

Senate File 2095 prohibits the state, counties, or cities from taking action that substantially burdens a person’s religious liberty unless there is a compelling governmental interest. If there is a compelling interest, the limits placed must be met in the least restrictive manner possible. This language is similar to laws in 25 other states, and 10 states that have RFRA-like protections in their Constitution.

What should have been a celebration of the First Amendment and the right to religious freedom, turned into a combative debate where Democrats accused Republicans of weaponizing religious beliefs, and accused many Christians of being racist, sexist, homophobic, and worse. The debate was not about the merits of the bill but instead one of made-up stories and fictitious fear-mongering. Democrats tried to cite court cases claiming RFRA allows discrimination but the manager of SF 2095, Rep. Holt, quickly pointed out that the cases cited weren’t RFRA-based cases. RFRA is over 30 years old and none of the outrageous claims made by Democrats have happened in any state.

Some examples of RFRA protecting religion include;

  • A Native American child was told to cut his hair to comply with the public school grooming policy. His family was denied a religious exemption and filed a lawsuit alleging a violation of RFRA. The court found the school had violated the student’s religious liberties.
  • Hobby Lobby was allowed to limit contraception coverage for employees based on the owner's closely held religious beliefs under federal RFRA.
  • The Federal Government was required to return eagle feathers it had previously seized from a Native American spiritual leader. The leader appealed the seizure under RFRA.

Protecting religious freedom should be a noncontroversial issue but the contempt shown for those who want religious freedom was unmistakable. It was also clear Democrats did not understand RFRA or what religious liberty actually means in our state and country. Prohibiting the state, counties, and cities from unnecessarily infringing on religious beliefs used to be a nonpartisan issue. Thanks to the work of House Republicans, Iowans will be able to continue practicing their religion without undue burdens from state government.

Fentanyl Deaths

Iowa is facing a fentanyl crisis that is shattering the hearts of too many families.

Overdoses are up by more than 34%. In 2021, illicit fentanyl was implicated in 83% of all Iowa’s opioid-related deaths, compared to just 31% five years ago.

Criminal drug networks are mass-producing fake pills, falsely marketing them as legitimate prescription pills, and killing unsuspecting Iowans.

Many times, these people who are taking, or even selling, these drugs don’t know they are laced with fentanyl. We must take action to protect Iowans by deterring the distribution of this deadly drug.

HF 2576 makes it a class A felony to provide illegal fentanyl products that result in death.

This is a severe punishment that should make Iowans think twice before selling, distributing, or sharing a drug, especially if they didn’t obtain it legally.

Prayer on the Hill

Thank you to Dave Hendricks and Dave Tyree who were not the only pastors to take an opportunity to pray with me and other legislators this week. So many prayer warriors have been petitioning on our behalf and we are extremely grateful for that. Thank you to you all back home who have been doing the same!

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

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