From the Desk of Sen. Giddens: April 21 Edition

State Sen. Eric Giddens (D-Cedar Falls)

It’s been a busy week at the Capitol! On Monday morning, I had the pleasure of joining a great group of 5th graders from Lincoln Elementary School in Cedar Falls for a tour of the Capitol. I enjoyed answering their questions and I appreciate their enthusiasm to learn more about state government and the legislative process.

With a packed schedule of bills up for consideration in the Senate this week, late on Monday we dove into a long and contentious debate on a bill that would loosen restrictions on Iowa’s child labor laws. The debate lasted through the night, concluding just before 5:00 am. I voted against this bill as a firm believer in protecting the safety and well-being of our children. Unfortunately, the bill passed the Senate and moved over to the House for their consideration.

I will continue to closely monitor the progress of this bill and many others as my colleagues and I work to ensure that the voices of Iowa families are heard. Property tax reform and the state budget are big items that still need to be considered, so stay tuned for more updates from me on these issues as we close out this session.

As always, do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.

Iowa’s majority party to Iowans – “No questions, please”

As the majority party in the Iowa Senate passed a dangerous expansion of child labor in the early morning hours on Tuesday (April 18), they also broke with long-standing traditions of free and open debate on the Senate floor.

This may sound like a matter of politeness – or maybe just politics – but it does really matter to the way our Senate serves the people of Iowa.

It happened when Sen. Bill Dotzler asked Sen. Adrian Dickey to “yield” to a question about how the bill might affect younger workers in bars and restaurants. It was a fair question, meant to help senators and all Iowans understand how the bill will affect teenage workers.

But the senator refused to yield. And then he refused again. And then the Senate’s Majority leader refused to yield, too.

Turns out, this is a new strategy from the majority party. They’re simply refusing to take questions on the Senate floor. Why? They say they don’t want Iowa courts to review their comments when deciding whether Iowa’s laws are constitutional.

Again, this may sound like politics, but it goes far beyond mere parliamentary maneuvers. If senators refuse to answer questions, all of us are left in the dark on what their bills actually do. If they refuse to answer questions, real problems and unintended consequences could get written into law because no one pointed them out.

That’s no way to govern. I believe in free speech and open debate. I’m committed to informing Iowans on how the laws we write affect their lives and livelihoods.

Bills passed on the Senate floor

The Senate voted unanimously on Wednesday to pass a property tax reform package that will lower tax bills for Iowa property owners. The House and Senate continue to discuss differing approaches to property tax relief, but Senate File 569 represents a great step forward and we’re hopeful it means bipartisan, meaningful reform is possible this year.

The Senate also passed bills lowering educational standards and forcing educators to violate their professional ethics. These bills are the direct result of majority party politicians’ refusal to adequately fund public education, and their fixation on culture-war issues rather than policies that will make our state stronger and more successful.

In the dead of the night on Tuesday, the Senate approved an expansion of child labor in Iowa. Senate File 542 expands work hours for teenagers and allows them to serve alcohol and work in potentially dangerous fields like roofing, excavation, demolition and in industrial freezers. I voted against this dangerous legislation.

The majority party in the Senate also passed a bill, Senate File 228, capping damage awards for Iowans injured or killed in accidents involving commercial trucks. The $5 million cap effectively puts a price on human life, and makes our roads less safe. The bill has also passed the House and now goes to the Governor.

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.