Anti-LGBTQ+ bills advance

In the fourth week of the legislative session, we saw movement on a slate of alarming bills that would ratchet back protections and ramp up harms for trans children and adults in our state. Among them were bills that would force school staff to out children to their families, restrict or ban affirming classrooms  materials and ban social emotional learning. (If the latter seems like a non sequitur, this piece from our friends at CLASP makes the connections to anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-racial equity campaigns clear). On Thursday, 12 lawmakers introduced a bill that would strip protections for transgender Iowans of all ages from Iowa's Civil Rights Act. 

Common Good Iowa stands with Iowans of good will in opposition to these proposals.  

Excerpt of statement from executive director Anne Discher on the proposal to strip protections from the Civil Rights Act:

This is reckless. It is cruel. It bullies transgender Iowans and invites physical and emotional abuse of these Iowans who deserve the same protections as everyone else in the state. It puts children at risk. It puts their parents at risk. It offers nothing for the common good of this state, which is our business as an organization, and should be the business of every Iowan. ...

Our state is too polarized as it is, and has done enough to punch down on Iowans who have done nothing to deserve it. This is an opportunity for the Governor and legislative leaders to stop the onslaught. We all must demand better, and it starts with those who are in control of the levers of power to make sure all Iowans not only feel safe — but are safe — no matter who they are.

Reflection from development director Amber Gustafson on bills to reduce support and protections for trans kids in Iowa schools:

The Iowa legislature is now discussing bills that say that my LGBTQ kid is “divisive” and anything that would represent their life or their story or their truth or their struggle should be banned from our schools. 

A book that celebrates their identity? Ban it.

A conversation about who they are? Put a stop to it.

A picture that shows them doing something “against gender norms” — whatever that means? End it. Tear it up. Throw it away.

I can’t help but think that those are the same things these people would like to do to my child. Ban them. Stop them. Tear them up. Throw them away.

I would never pretend to fully understand what it means to be trans or non-binary. I don’t have all the answers and I haven’t always been the perfect parent when it comes to supporting them in the way they deserve to be treated. But I will tell you this: I will love this child that has been given to me. I will love them exactly as they are. I will celebrate my child. I will sing the song of their heart. I will be the one who will be there when the tears fall, when they have lost hope, when the bullying and exclusion and hate is all too much. 

You know who won’t be there to pick up the ache of my child’s heart? Governors. Legislators. Presidential candidates. And the rest of the fools who see my child — my child who loves show choir and cats and music and anime and fart jokes, my child who takes AP classes and works with kids with disabilities and writes music in the middle of the night, my child who was born with the most beautiful deep brown eyes and giant dimples, my child who has hopes and dreams and feelings just like anyone — as a problem, a mistake, an abomination. 

To them, my child is a stump to grind down under the wheels of their political ambition. And that is unforgivable.

Other legislation to watch

  • Final action is pending on public school funding, which has been held below costs for over a decade. Both Senate File 192 and House File 171 set the per-pupil growth in state funding at 3 percent. Districts with increased or stable enrollment will see their budgets increase by that amount. Districts that lose enrollment include 71 that will be on a so-called "budget guarantee" that temporarily stablizes their budget — though with property tax, not state aid. Although 3 percent is higher than what lawmakers provided in 13 of the last 14 years, it falls short of what schools need to meet current costs, let alone recover from long-term disinvestment.

  • Legislation is moving in both houses that would make it harder for Iowans to get food and health care. House File 3 and Senate Study Bill 1105 would impose new burdens on eligible SNAP and Medicaid recipients, while raising state administrative costs. Neither would enhance integrity of these supports for people in need; rather, they would lessen the ability of Iowans who are eligible for these services to receive them.

  • State government reorganization is being proposed by Governor Reynolds. While everyone wants the most efficient public services, the devil, as they say, is in the details. The proposal, House Study Bill 126 would reduce the number of executive branch agencies from 37 to 16, with a projected reduction in costs of $214 million over four years. What demands examination is how this will change the delivery, quantity and quality of public services. Lawmakers should not rush this process, and the public should be involved in a deliberative review.

  • A year after passing draconian cuts in Iowa income taxes to be phased in through 2026, lawmakers are turning their attention to cutting property taxes that are critical to funding local services. This is occurring in several pieces of legislation, including HF1 and Senate Study Bill 1124. CGI will be reviewing and consulting allies on these and other property tax bills in the coming weeks.

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