From the Desk of Senator Giddens: Our Fight for Accountability in Iowa Government

State Sen. Eric Giddens (D-Cedar Falls)

Last week in the Capitol was busier than most. It was funnel week, which is the first deadline of the legislative session to get bills passed through full committees to keep them “alive”, or up for consideration, until the next deadline.

Funnel week means we have packed schedules full of subcommittee and committee meetings with everyone wanting their bills to stay alive. There are several exemptions to this deadline: legislation regarding taxes, spending, and government oversight, as well as leadership reviving proposals later in the session, and amendments to bills, which can have a big impact on their content. There are other deadlines like this later in the session — in a month, Senate bills must be passed through the corresponding House committees and vice versa to remain alive.

This past week we began floor debate in the Senate, so I look forward to updating you next week on the bills we’re considering in the full Senate chamber. As always, please let me know if I can be helpful with anything, or if you have any issues or concerns you want to share with me. I can be reached at eric.giddens@legis.iowa.govor (319) 230-0578. It is an honor to serve!

Boards and Commissions Consolidation

My colleagues across the aisle moved legislation this week to eliminate dozens of state boards and commissions and consolidate dozens more. I have major concerns with this bill: it reduces accountability in government, silences the voices of Iowans, and could jeopardize health and safety. Our government works best when Iowans have a say. Senate Study Bill 3172 takes us in the wrong direction.

AEAs still at risk

Gov. Reynolds’ controversial plan to slash funding and services at Iowa’s Area Education Agencies was kept alive this week, advancing past a key procedural deadline. I’ll be following Senate Study Bill 3073 closely as we turn to floor debate in the weeks ahead.

February is “Love Your Library Month”

This annual observance reminds us of the invaluable role libraries play in our communities by fostering knowledge, connection, and lifelong learning. As we try to navigate the challenges of information overload and unreliable information, libraries remain a trusted place to vet information and to gain knowledge, compassion, and connection through books.

Educators advocating at the Capitol

Last week I had the opportunity to meet with local school officials and school board members who were in Des Moines to advocate for three main priorities: strengthening our educator workforce; supporting students in need with increased preschool funding and stable special education supports; and sustaining essential services for ALL public-school students.

Online age verification

This week, the Senate Technology Committee advanced Senate File 2227, creating new protections for children online. The bipartisan bill requires age verification for certain websites and allows Iowans to sue web publishers who distribute harmful content to minors, including obscene and indecent material and child pornography.

Farm safety grants

Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH) is currently accepting applications for their 2024 youth grant program. Community youth groups can use the grants to fund farm safety-related projects. For more information visit the following website: https://icash.public-health.uiowa.edu/programs/agricultural-youth-grants

Justice for Swifties

A Senate Bill advancing this week aims to level the playing field when buying concert tickets. Senate File 2269 prohibits ticket resellers from using a bot or other nefarious web tools to jump ahead in line or buy up tickets for in-demand events. It also empowers the Iowa attorney general to sue bad actors and levy fines. Ticket schemes emerged as a big issue during Taylor Swift’s “Eras” tour last year and remain a problem for high-profile concerts and events.

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.