Week sixteen of the session is done, we have completed the official calendar but we have not adjourned. The activity level intensified this week as we finally were able to deal with the appropriations bills sent over from the Senate. There is much more to be done. We do not yet have resolution on any of the bills already sent to conference committee: education reform, budget appropriations bills, or property tax reform.
Earlier this week the Republicans in the Iowa Senate attempted to attach an amendment to a Senate bill to re-instate our historic indemnity of liability for farm landowners that the Iowa Supreme Court took away in the Sallee vs. Stewart decision. The amendment was defeated on a strict party line vote, all 26 Senate Democrats voted against the amendment to protect Iowa's farm landowners. The House Republicans are still working on coming to resolution to protect our farm landowners, but time is running short and so are our options.
Sticking to Principles
Throughout my campaign I frequently expressed my support for the right to life for unborn children. The debate over the right to life of an unborn child is, in my view, the civil rights issue of our time. I am confident that the majority of my constituents support that position as well. Within that debate there has been an ongoing nationwide discussion over the use of taxpayer funds for abortions and taxpayer funds being distributed to organizations that provide abortions. Lately, a few states have been successful at finally preventing taxpayer funds from being distributed to organizations that provide abortion along with other family planning services.
Wednesday, May 1, the Iowa House debated and passed Senate File 446 as amended by the House. This is a bill that provides the funding for Iowa's Health and Human Services including distribution of federal Medicaid along with state funds. These appropriations are used for autism treatment, nursing home payments for the indigent elderly, state facilities such as the Iowa Veterans Home, Iowa Juvenile home, the Eldora Juvenile Detention center, and the many other appropriations dealing with Iowa's health care system. This bill also provides funds for family planning services for low income Iowans. The House Republicans inserted language into this bill that will make the necessary restrictions to accomplish the goal of keeping taxpayer funds out of the hands of abortion providers and being used for abortions.
It will not be easy to keep this language in the bill. This effort has been ongoing in the Iowa legislature for years, stymied by the impasse created by a legislature split between the two parties. Now that the House has passed the Health and Human Services appropriation bill it will end up in another joint conference committee. That committee will be charged with recommending a compromise bill that both chambers can accept, setting up for a showdown between the House and Senate on this and other issues.