Capitol Update

February 23, 2023

Week Seven Recap

No Carbon Pipeline- Gathering on the Hill

I appreciated the opportunity to give a few remarks at the Sierra Club's No Carbon Pipeline rally this week. People from all over the state gathered to stand up against eminent domain!


Second Amendment Day

It was wonderful to see so many folks at the Capitol for 2A Day. I had the pleasure of meeting these three kind gentlemen from my district: Brian from Webster, Scott from Ollie, and Richard from Hayesville. Thank you for coming to visit!

Rural Electric Cooperatives Hill Visit

I enjoyed visiting with these folks from the Fairfield area who were here with the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives. These cooperatives are member-owned and community-focused. They exist to provide "high-quality service at the lowest possible price." Electric co-ops are locally owned and governed. Thanks for all the great work you do!

Visitors from River Hills Oskaloosa

It was wonderful to meet with some of the staff from River Hills Community Health Center. They shared with me the work they are already doing in Osky and the plans to expand in a new mental health focused facility! The River Hills Mahaska County Clinic provides assistance with mental and behavioral health needs. Thank you for stopping by!

Peoria Christian School

Last weekend I visited Peoria for the Peoria Christian School annual fundraising event and dinner. Thank you for having me and for the delicious meal!

Fairfield Legislative Forum

Representative Shipley, Senator Dickey, and I were the panelists for Fairfield's Legislative Forum last weekend. The audience asked some fantastic questions! Thank you to Fairfield Chamber of Commerce for hosting. If you missed it, you can view the video recording at this link. Thank you to Fairfield Media Center for recording!

Gender Identity Instruction and Transparency

I wanted to give an update on some extremely important bills that are coming toward the House floor: HF 180 and HF 348.


HF 180 (formerly HF 9)- prohibits school staff from willfully keeping information about a student's gender identity/ sexual orientation from their parents.


HF 348 (formerly HF 8)-requires that the human growth and development instruction for students in kindergarten through 6th grade may not include any program, curriculum, material, or instruction of any kind relating to gender identity or sexual orientation.


Both of these bills have made it through their House committees and subcommittees, and are eligible for debate at any time.


For those not in my district, please contact your legislators and urge them to vote YES on HF 180 and HF 348- these laws will be incredibly helpful in protecting Iowa's children.

Legislation Update: Education

The House passed quite a few bills this week, including the notable HF 323- Student Teacher Stipends. This bill gives public, charter, and accredited private schools the ability to pay stipends to student teachers. With the passage of the Students First Act, state-funded schools will now have more flexibility in regards to how they can spend their money: certain funds are no longer "locked" into a certain categorical account. Under this law, there is no requirement to pay student teachers.

Tax Times: Controlling Spending Key to Property Tax Reforms

Despite numerous changes, lasting relief has not been delivered and Iowa currently has the 10th-highest property tax burden in the nation.


If you have lived in Iowa for any length of time, then you know property taxes are, without a doubt, the most despised tax in the state. That’s why numerous lawmakers have committed to making property tax reform one of their top agenda items during this legislative session. Property taxes are one of those unique public policy issues that are not partisan; many Democratic and Republican voters in Iowa have agreed that property taxes are too high and need to be fixed.


Iowa’s history is full of legislation attempting to provide property tax relief. In 1934 the state introduced the income and sales taxes to shift the burden away from property taxes. The education state foundation aid formula was adopted in 1971, the residential assessment rollback was created in 1978, various local option sales taxes have been implemented, and in 2013 rollbacks were introduced for additional property classes, all in the name of property tax relief. Despite these numerous changes, lasting relief has not been delivered and Iowa currently has the 10th-highest property tax burden in the nation.


Each of these previous attempts at property tax relief either created a new revenue stream or tried to shift the burden among taxpayers. None of them, however, got to the core of the issue which is government spending. If the Legislature intends to provide property tax relief this session, they must find a way to limit the spending ability of local governments.


To help Iowa avoid reform pitfalls, Iowans for Tax Relief Foundation developed solutions which focus on spending and transparency. These range from robust budget caps and the consolidation of outdated levies (did you know Iowa cities can still levy taxes for a town band?) to additional debt limits and the direct notification of property owners when their taxes are poised to increase.

When some of these solutions threaten a reduction in local government spending, don’t be surprised to hear local officials balk about cuts to police and fire services, or having to leave their snowplows parked all winter long.


These scare tactics aren’t new and are frequently used to oppose any changes to the status quo. However, those types of cuts are not reality and are one of the many fallacies floated around during debates about property taxes. In fact, Iowa state law requires local governments to provide many of the core government services we rely upon. When the growth of local government is slowed, functions such as water parks, economic development, art sculptures, and other nice but not essential things will likely be the first items considered when reductions need to be made.


ITRF polling last fall showed a majority of Iowans support the Legislature setting limits on the taxing and spending of local governments. November elections confirmed this when Iowans overwhelmingly supported conservative candidates and by extension the conservative policies the state has implemented over the last few years. It’s time for local governments to go on the same healthy diet the state has been on lately, and wisely discern between needs and wants.

Legislators have made it clear property taxes will be a focal point at the Capitol this year. There is no question spending is the cause of excessive increases. Local governments continue to have control over much of what they spend money on, and if legislators want to implement changes, they need only set new boundaries.


Republished with permission from Iowans for Tax Relief.

Visit https://www.itrlocal.org/ for more information

on the great work they are doing!

Protecting Second Amendment Rights

House File 147: The Second Amendment Preservation Act 



Our 2nd amendment freedom- the right to keep and bear arms- is fundamental to who we are as Americans. The right to protect ourselves, whether from intruders or impending tyranny, through the use of firearms is now a right recognized by the Constitution of the State of Iowa, thanks to the ballot measure for Iowa Constitution Amendment 1. You saw this at the bottom of your ballot this past fall. 


That measure did pass and the constitution is now amended… So why would we need another bill to protect this right? House File 147 protects Iowa from having to enforce any federal mandates or laws that infringe on Iowans’ right to bear arms. This is a critical time for such action, considering the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ recent “pistol brace ban,” which is said to take effect this May. Read more about the ban here: 


https://www.gunowners.org/bidens-pistol-ban-101/



Like-minded legislators have been working hard to protect our 2A rights this session, with HF147 having passed subcommittee and moving forward toward the House floor.


Here is a brief summary of what HF 147 does: 


  • Affirms Iowa’s authority to regulate firearms within its borders. 
  • Prohibits Iowa from enforcing any federal mandate or law that would cause infringement on the right to keep and bear arms, and declares any such action to be void in Iowa. 
  • Gives protections against any federal action that creates a “chilling effect” on the purchase or sale of firearms, accessories, ammunition, etc. 
  • Places the duty of protecting these rights on the court and law enforcement agencies. 



I know that many of my constituents find this issue to be as important as I do! I co-signed this bill and will support it all the way! For those outside my district, I encourage you to contact your legislator at tell them to vote YES on HF147- The Second Amendment Preservation Act. 

How Districts Are Determined

In Iowa, there are 100 House districts, and 50 senate districts. Have you ever wondered how these lines are determined?


The Iowa Constitution was amended in 1968 to fulfill the U.S. constitutional mandate to

draw boundaries based on population and to provide the timeline for establishing state senatorial and representative districts following the federal census.


That amendment to the Iowa Constitution requires the General Assembly to establish state legislative districts for both the Senate and House of Representatives by September 1 of the year following the federal census. The proposed redistricting becomes a law on September 15 of that year.


The idea behind the drawing of district lines is to make the population of each district as equal as possible- therefore giving each person's vote an almost equal weight and an equal representation in our state's legislature.


When redistricting is proposed, the standard is called "ideal population," a mathematical equation dividing the total number of Iowans by the number of districts needed. The redistricting process considers how far off the actual population of each district is from the "ideal population." and seeks to restore that equal-weight vote.


Other factors include:

Respect for political subdivisions (towns, counties, etc.)

Contiguousness- all land in a district is continuous, districts can't be split

Compactness


In addition, redistricting CANNOT:

Favor to any certain political party, legislator, or member of Congress

Purpose to dilute the vote of any certain racial group


You may wonder, why should I think twice about the boring redistricting process happening at the Capitol every 10 years? Redistricting affects more than you might think. The makeup of each Legislative district determines who will represent them in the House or Senate, and every vote counts when it comes to the action accomplished.


Here are some stories of how redistricting can be used nefariously, compiled by the Loyola Law School. Redistricting Stories


In Iowa, redistricting is planned and proposed by the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency. The Majority and Minority leaders of the legislature appoint a 5-member committee to advise the LSA on this process.


The plan must also be made available to the public. The final plan approved by the General Assembly through a majority vote and versions of the plan can be amended.


Iowa is unique in that it requires the redistricting process to be done by a non-partisan agency.


Read more here.

Newsletter Subscriptions

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Contact Information

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, comments, or concerns you may have. I love to hear from you and want to represent you accurately! 

Website: https://www.helenaforhouse.com/

Email: helena.hayes@legis.iowa.gov

Phone: 515.281.3221

Donation Information: https://www.helenaforhouse.com/donate

Upcoming Events

Here are the dates for upcoming forums I will be at! I welcome all constituents to join me for these meetings. I want to hear what you have to say!


Eggs & Issues at Smokey Row Oskaloosa (109 S Market St. Oskaloosa, IA) will take place on these dates:

February 25 - 8:30-9:30am

March 25 - 8:30-9:30am


Fairfield Chamber of Commerce Legislative Forum at the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center (200 North Main St. Fairfield, IA)

will take place on these dates:

April 8 - 7:30-9:00am


If you have any questions about these events, don't hesitate to reach out to me. Forums and events will be posted on my Facebook page as well as here in the newsletter!

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