From the Desk of Sen. Giddens: Week 7 in the Capitol

State Sen. Eric Giddens (D-Cedar Falls)

Meet my clerk

I wanted to take a moment this week to pull back the curtain and introduce you to the secret of my success in the Senate: my clerk Nathaniel Harwood.

Nathaniel is from Cedar Falls and graduated from Iowa State University in December with a degree in political science. He began working with me last session for class credit, and I’m grateful to have him back again this year.

Clerks are essential to keeping things running in the Iowa Senate. Nathaniel helps with scheduling meetings, managing the correspondence I get from constituents like you, and generally keeping me organized and on task. Here in Iowa, our part-time legislature runs pretty lean, and the pace can get hectic. It’s safe to say I’d be lost without him.

Nathaniel personifies public service and the spirit of our citizen legislature. I’m so grateful for the long hours he puts in on my behalf and on yours.

Funnel Week is here

This week was Funnel Week in the legislature – a key procedural deadline that determines which bills will advance and which are no longer eligible for debate. The funnel is always a hectic time in the Capitol, as lawmakers scramble to consider bills and advance their priorities. We’ll have more to say about the funnel next week.

Equal pay for equal work

I signed on as a co-sponsor to SF 396, a bill to address wage discrimination under the Iowa Civil Rights Act of 1965 and establish an equal pay task force. Making our state fairer for working women and their families is a top priority.

Supporting pregnant workers

No pregnant mom should have to worry that she will be forced off the job or face workplace discrimination or retaliation. SF 435, another bill that I have co-sponsored, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees based on pregnancy or childbirth.

Repealing health

Here’s one important but overlooked piece of the Governor’s massive government reorganization bill: one line on page 911 repeals the State Board of Health. The board has operated since 1880 – nearly 150 years in which it has promoted high-quality public health across our state. Gov. Reynolds proposes folding the Board of Health’s duties into a new Health and Human Services Council, with one big catch: only one member of that new board must be a knowledgeable health professional. The Board of Health requires seven. This is part of the Reynolds Administration’s attempt to centralize power with political appointees rather than professionals and community members.

Relief for tenants

A bill allowing tenants to seal records concerning unfounded eviction actions and evictions that took place more than five years ago appears to be advancing in the Senate. Half of all eviction actions are withdrawn or unfounded, but they haunt people for years, making it much harder to access stable housing. I’m hopeful this bill will quickly become law.

Slapping down SLAPPs

Iowa is inching closer to passing Anti-SLAPP legislation, an important tool for protecting whistleblowers and critics from retaliation by powerful corporations and billionaire ideologues. If you need a refresher on SLAPP suits, watch John Oliver’s colorful explanation. (Be beware his language can be quite salty.)

State Senator Eric Giddens represents Iowa Senate District 38 including Cedar Falls, Hudson, Traer, Dysart, Evansdale, Elk Run Heights, Gilbertville, Washburn, LaPorte City and Mount Auburn. Contact Sen. Giddens at 319-230-0578 or eric.giddens@legis.iowa.gov.