This week’s newsletter will be shorter than usual, due to a death in the family. I will not be at the community forums that have been scheduled for this Saturday the 18th, but Senator Taylor will still be in attendance to discuss legislation and other important issues. The forums are at 9am at the Hawarden Community Center and 11am at the Old Kissinger School gym in Merrill this Saturday the 18th.
Here are some highlights from this week’s discussions and bills:
House File 8 – Gender Identity/Sexual Orientation Curriculum
- This week, the House Education committee passed House File 8 through committee. This bill prohibits any classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in K-6th grade.
- It also prohibits instruction on these topics at any age that is not age appropriate.
- We send our kids to school to learn subjects like reading, writing, math and science. This bill will allow teachers to use their classroom time on those topics and leave discussions on social issues to the parents.
- Teachers should teach and parents should parent.
This bill is often misconstrued and accused of having consequences that are not actually in the bill. To help ensure that you understand, here is an explainer of what the bill does and does not do.
What HF 8 does…
- Prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in K-6th grade.
- Prohibits classroom instruction on gender identity or sexual orientation in a manner that is not age appropriate in any grade.
- Allows teachers to stick to curriculum on school subjects like reading, writing, math and science, while leaving the responsibility to discuss social issues to the parents.
What HF 8 does NOT do…
- This bill does not ban sex education. State guidelines on sexual education curriculum remain in code and this bill does not change or affect those guidelines.
- This bill does not stop any instruction providing information to students to prevent sexual abuse. Schools can provide students with necessary information such as safe touches vs unsafe touches without getting into gender identity and sexual orientation.
- This bill does not ban books that contain LGBTQ characters.
- This bill does not prevent a teacher in a same sex marriage from talking about or displaying photos of their spouse. Again, this bill addresses curriculum.
- This bill does not prevent students from discussing these topics themselves.
- This bill does not allow for bullying based on sexual orientation or gender identity. All current bullying policies apply.
Senate File 181 – Property Tax Rollback Calculation Fix
- Without getting too far into the details, an error in the interpretations of past property tax bills resulted in a property tax increase on taxpayers that was not intended.
- This week, the House passed a bill to fix the issue so as not to hurt the property taxpayer.
- Some local government entities expressed concern with this bill because they had already started setting their budgets for next fiscal year based on that additional revenue.
- To address this concern, the original bill was amended to give local governments an extra month to set their budgets.
- This is not meant to take away money from local governments, because in reality, this is not money they ever should have received.
- This is similar to how the state sets its budget each year. We begin our process based on revenue projections from December. However, if in March the revenue projections change, we must adjust our budgets.
Special Election Update: Deadlines are coming up for the special elections being held on March 7 in Plymouth and Sioux counties. This coming Monday, February 20, is the last day to pre-register to vote as well as the last chance to request an absentee ballot to be mailed. Once you receive and mark your ballot, mail it so that it is in your county auditor’s office by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. Alternatively, you can vote absentee in person at your county auditor’s office through March 6.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. I can be reached at my email: email@example.com.