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Funnel Week is Here!

We have reached the first funnel of the session.  The legislative “funnel” is a deadline that requires House bills to be approved by at least one House committee to remain eligible for consideration, and vice versa in the Senate.  It’s our way to winnow down the issues that have support and those that lack support.

With funnel week at an end, many key priorities have moved forward to the debate calendar.

The Education Committee introduced and passed our plan to provide schools with more flexibility this week.  No two school districts are alike and they all face their own challenges, as well as opportunities.  While one school may accumulate a large balance in a fund that’s restricted to a specific purpose, another school may be struggling to meet their needs in that same area.  Our bill will allow schools to spend unused dollars from these various funds on other needs that they may have.  This bill recognizes that each school district is unique and provides them with the flexibility they need to meet students’ needs.

The Judiciary Committee also passed a comprehensive Second Amendment bill to protect and strengthen Iowans’ right to keep and bear arms.  The bill makes a number of changes to the gun permitting process, allows Iowans to defend themselves in the event of danger, and cracks down on straw purchases.  We worked with many public safety and law enforcement officials to address and resolve a number of their concerns with the original bill.

The House is also moving forward on our Election Integrity and Modernization bill that ensures Iowans have confidence in our elections.  We worked with Secretary of State Paul Pate’s office to craft a bill that will make it easier to vote, harder to cheat, and ensures no eligible voter is turned away.

Iowans support efforts to protect the integrity of our elections.  A recent poll from the Des Moines Register showed that 69% of Iowans supported a requirement that voters present government-issued identification at their polling location.  Currently, 34 other states require a form of identification to vote.  Under the current bill, acceptable forms of identification would include:

  • An Iowa Driver’s License
  • An Iowa Non-operator ID
  • A United States Passport
  • A Veteran or Military ID
  • A Voter Identification card issued by the Secretary of State

Additionally, the bill would require Secretary of State’s office to send out a voter identification card to every registered voter that doesn’t have a Driver’s License.

The bill also implements the use of electronic poll books at the county level to modernize and streamline the voting process.  The majority of counties already use these poll books, but they aren’t always available at every precinct.  Our bill will allow more counties to implement this technology and will make voting almost as simple as going through the express line at the grocery store.

Finally, our bill eliminates straight-ticket voting from Iowa ballots.  Currently, Iowa is one of only nine states in the country to allow straight-ticket voting.  This disenfranchises third party candidates that don’t have a box at the top of a ballot that voters can check off.

This bill will bring elections in Iowa into the 21st century and give Iowans assurance that our system is fair, clean, and ensures eligible voters aren’t disenfranchised.

As the session continues to move along, please stay in touch.  Please let me know your thoughts as different bills or issues arise.  You can reach me at linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or (515) 281-3521.

 

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Dansette