Greetings from the Statehouse,
Last Thursday, the House passed HF 532, a $27.2 million-dollar aid package to schools that were in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic. I commend the schools in our district that were in-person through this evolving situation. I believe that this bill is a step in the right direction to offset the costs of masks, hand sanitizer, and other changes that needed to be made in order to get our students back in the classroom. This bill also gives those schools that received these funds the flexibility to also use them next year and this will further assist schools in using this money without the worry of the “use it or lose it” mentality that normal appropriations carry.
A hot button issue this week was House File 590, Iowa’s Election Integrity Bill. Personally, I believe that Iowa has one of the strongest election processes in the nation. Even then, there is always room for improvement, especially after the impacts that COVID-19 has seen on our elections nationwide. The 2020 Presidential Election saw a turnout shattering Iowa records with approximately 76% of eligible voters going in to cast a ballot – a percentage not seen in over 100 years. In the last couple of weeks, misconceptions have been circulating regarding this bill. This bill is meant to provide uniformity in election law, make it harder to cheat, and orders much needed maintenance on the states voter database.
House File 590 completes these three objectives by creating a statewide standard on all elections, regardless of the type of election being held. HF 590 creates uniformity in our state election laws by establishing a statewide poll closing time of 8 p.m., which makes us uniform with our neighboring states. It also creates accountability for the bad actors – which does not exist in current law. This bill creates the ability to fine county auditors for intentional technical infractions. This bill also protects voters as it codifies that county auditors need to participate in a USPS change of address program to make sure that ballots go to the correct voter, not a house that they no longer reside in.
As legislative week seven completes, the House has had over 700 bills introduced and nearly 100 of those bills have cleared the House Floor. Next week is the first funnel – meaning that bills need to make it out of committee before end of business Thursday to stay ‘alive’. As always, it will be a busy week for all of us here in the legislature and if you have any questions, comments, or concerns – do not hesitate to reach out.