Iowa Senate Update: July 2023

Reproductive Freedom Under Threat in Iowa It’s been a momentous summer for reproductive rights in Iowa. Earlier this month, Republican politicians returned to Des Moines 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 ...

Reproductive Freedom Under Threat in Iowa

It’s been a momentous summer for reproductive rights in Iowa. Earlier this month, Republican politicians returned to Des Moines 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:

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 fight 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.

Tax Free Weekend

It’s almost back to school season, and that means Tax Free Weekend is almost here.

Iowa’s tax-free weekend will be held Friday, August 3, and Saturday, August 4. All clothing and shoes under $100 are exempt from state and local sales taxes during the holiday, providing a helpful discount at individuals and families are stocking up for the new season.

Stores that are open on those days are required to participate. More details on Tax Free Weekend are available here.

What We Know About Private School Vouchers

After ducking questions and keeping Iowans in the dark for weeks, Gov. Reynolds finally provided hard data about her private school voucher scheme this month, revealing that vouchers largely benefit upper-income Iowans and those who already attend private schools.

It’s no wonder Reynolds tried to avoid providing this information: it proves once again that her $1 billion voucher scheme is a bad deal for Iowans.

Quick Updates

  • Summer travel is under way. 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, 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.
  • Food for kids. Late last month, Iowa HHS confirmed that the state will apply for federal summer food assistance for children. This is a major win for Iowa, as the federal program helps support the health and well-being of kids, and Iowa joins a large majority of other states applying for the assistance.
  • 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.
  • Expanding affordable high-speed internet. Over 300 local and national organizations are partnering with the U.S. Department of Education to launch Online for All, a campaign working to close the digital divide by focusing on internet access and affordability. The Affordable Connectivity Program, created through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, significantly lowers the cost of internet, and millions more eligible households could still benefit. Click here for a fact sheet with more details.
  • 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.
  • In the Balance. Did you know Iowa’s Judicial Branch has a podcast? This month’s episode focuses on Iowa’s substance use disorder and statewide treatment specialty courts, but be sure to check out the archives for discussions on juvenile justice and Iowa’s first civil rights case.
  • Stamp your passport at Iowa 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. Click here for more info.  

In the Capitol