From the Desk of Senator Giddens

State Sen. Eric Giddens (D-Cedar Falls)

Greetings, friends and neighbors! I hope you’re all enjoying your summer so far. It’s been a busy and fun month and a half since I last wrote, filled with town festivals, parades, the 4th of July, and hundreds of great conversations with constituents at their doors.

Despite the rain (which we desperately needed!) during the Sturgis Falls festival in Cedar Falls, the event was a huge success as usual. The City of Dysart celebrated its Sesquicentennial July 2-4, and I really enjoyed being there all three days. I had lots of fun walking in the Gilbertville Daze and Hudson Days parades on July 15 and July 22, and am looking forward to other community festivals in the coming weeks and months.

It is an honor to represent you in the Iowa Senate. As always, please reach out to me at eric.giddens@legis.iowa.gov or (319) 230-0578 if I can be helpful to you in any way or if you have issues or concerns you’d like to share with me.

Take care and do your best to stay cool and hydrated in this mid-summer heat!

Reproductive Freedom Under Threat in Iowa

It’s been a momentous summer for reproductive rights in Iowa. Earlier this month, the majority party called a special legislative session to pass a new 6-week abortion ban, blocking access in almost all cases before most women even know they are pregnant. I stood with my Democratic colleagues to resist this attack on Iowans’ basic freedom and right to decide their own futures.

Gov. Reynolds signed the bill into law in a political ceremony at a special interest event with Republican presidential candidates.

Now the law has been challenged in court and is on hold while that challenge is reviewed.

What’s happened so far:

On June 16, the Iowa Supreme Court deadlocked on a long-running case concerning a 6-week abortion ban passed by the legislature in 2018. The court’s action meant that near-total abortion ban could never be enforced.

On July 11, Reynolds and legislative Republicans held a special legislative session, where they passed a nearly identical 6-week ban, restricting abortion in nearly all cases.

On July 12, Planned Parenthood, the Emma Goldman Clinic and the ACLU of Iowa filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 6-week ban.

On July 14, Reynolds signed the bill into law. It took effect immediately, banning abortion in nearly every case.

On July 17, a Polk County judge halted enforcement of the new law while it’s challenged in court. Because of the judge’s action, abortion remains safe and legal in Iowa as the legal process moves forward.

What happens next:

Gov. Reynolds has appealed the court’s injunction preventing the abortion ban from taking effect.

At some point, the Iowa Supreme will decide on the governor’s appeal. Depending on that decision, the ban could take effect or remain on hold.

Meanwhile, the legal challenge to the new law will move forward in Polk County District Court. The court will consider the abortion ban on its constitutional merits, and ultimately rule on whether it should be allowed to take effect or not.

No matter how the district court rules, its decision will inevitably be appealed, leading the Iowa Supreme Court to review and ultimately rule on the case.

This entire process will take time. It’s possible a final Iowa Supreme Court ruling will not be issued until June, 2025.

Here’s the bottom line: Abortion remains safe and legal in Iowa, but our reproductive freedom has never been as threatened as it is right now.

We have a long struggle ahead of us, and I’m sure it will take many twists and turns. But I’m proud to stand with the majority of Iowans who believe in reproductive freedom, bodily autonomy, and every person’s right to make their own medical decisions and decide their own future.

Summer travel is underway. So is seasonal construction.

Getting ready to travel and wondering about construction zones and traffic slowdowns? Travelers can access current weather and construction conditions on Iowa roads through the 511 system 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visit https://www.511ia.org/, check out the mobile app, or dial 511 or 1-800-288-1047 within Iowa on any telephone.

New Medicaid provider

A new care provider, Molina Healthcare has started serving Medicaid members as of July 1. Any members experiencing issues with the transition of care should call member services at 844-236-0894, and any providers seeking assistance should call provider services at 844-236-1464. I’m always available and happy to help solve problems as well.

Trends in kids’ health

The Department of Health and Human Services released a report on adolescent health and behavior trends. There are some positives and negatives included in the results, but I am hopeful that the passage of HF 602 will help. That bill required crisis line numbers be included on student ID cards, ensuring that young students have ready access to help if and when they need it.

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

A new federal law extending the right to reasonable accommodations for pregnant and postpartum workers across the country has officially taken effect! We’re seeing the Biden-Harris Administration’s continued commitment to supporting working women and families.

Fighting child labor violations

The child labor expansion law passed by statehouse Republicans this year is confusing for parents and employers – and violates federal law. Senate Democrats are working to educate Iowa parents and businesses on how to follow federal law and keep kids safe.

Tuition rises at Iowa’s public universities

The University of Iowa, Iowa State and UNI will raise in-state tuition this fall by 3.5 percent for in-state students. For Iowa students living on campus, the average overall increase including room and board and fees is $838.67. The tuition hikes enacted by the Board of Regents are the direct result of the state’s lack in financial support for higher education, and will make it harder for Iowans to go to college, stay in college, and remain in Iowa after college.

Iowa to get federal broadband grants

Iowa will receive $415 million for expanded broadband access in the most underserved areas of the state. This is more than the state has spent on the effort so far, with funding coming from the federal bipartisan infrastructure law that Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed in 2021. This is the eighth grant to have been made available in Iowa. Previous grants provided over $352 million to bring broadband service to 109,126 homes, schools and businesses in Iowa. For more information on the latest round of broadband grant funding click here.

Stamp your passport at Iowa’s state parks

Head to any or all of Iowa’s wonderful state parks this summer to find hidden gems found through the Iowa State Park Passport. Each park on the passport includes a “Hidden Gem” such as historical marker, scenic overlook, or special trail. Post a selfie at the hidden gem with the hashtag #IowaStateParks on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. The Iowa DNR will randomly select one photo to win an outdoor cooking package.

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.