Abortion waiting period fails to win OK as other bills advance

The Iowa State Capitol (Photo by Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Republican state lawmakers are putting on hold their efforts to pass a bill requiring women to wait 72 hours for an abortion  and are focusing instead on passing a constitutional amendment stating abortions aren’t protected by the Iowa Constitution.

The waiting-period bill failed to advance in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, but that doesn’t mean the push for its approval is necessarily dead, Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, said.

Senate File 2215 would have required women who wanted an abortion to undergo an ultrasound at least three days before the abortion. While Zaun didn’t specify any future plans, he said amendments could be added to bills in other committees to address abortion.

“I wouldn’t say that the issue is done for this year. There’s other vehicles that could be used later in the session,” Zaun said. “At this time, I, as well as others, thought our focus should be on the constitutional amendment that Iowans get to weigh in on.”

On Thursday, legislators made last-ditch efforts to advocate for bills before the end of “funnel” week — the deadline that’s used to keep the legislative process moving forward and weed out bills that have little legislative support.

With the Legislature now wrapping up its sixth week, these are among the bills that advanced on Thursday and are positioned to move forward:

Work requirements for public assistance:  “Able-bodied” Iowans receiving public assistance for nutrition or health care would have to work or volunteer at least 20 hours a week to keep their benefits under Senate Study Bill 3158. The bill provides some exceptions for people with mental illness or disability, for caretakers of elderly or disabled family members, and for parents of children age 1 or younger. The Senate Labor and Business Relations Committee voted 6-5 in favor of the bill. Senators also amended it with provisions aimed at giving Iowa parents more time to transition from child-care assistance if their income grows beyond the program eligibility.

Apartment rent payments: Senate Study Bill 3178 would allow landlords to turn away potential renters who rely on federal vouchers such as Section 8. An amendment removed references to other sources of income in the original bill, including veterans’ benefits, Social Security and alimony.

EMS weapons permits:  Emergency Medical Technicians would be allowed to carry a firearm if they are a part of a police tactical team under legislation that won the unanimous approved Thursday of the House Public Safety Committee. Senate File 2006 would allow emergency medical professionals to obtain a professional permit to carry weapons if they train with a tactical team, complete a firearm safety training course and are not disqualified from carrying weapons.

Local government gun-free zones: The House Public Safety Committee voted 11-8 to loosen firearms restrictions in county courthouses and require local buildings that ban guns to increase their security. Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison, said there was a need to avoid a “patchwork” of regulations in cities and counties that prevent Iowans from exercising their constitutional gun rights. Democrats objected to what they said was an infringement on cities’ and counties’ local control. House Study Bill 615 negates any court orders banning firearms in courthouses, deeming them unenforceable except in rooms used for judicial functions. Cities or counties that ban guns in buildings like a library or city hall would also be required to screen for firearms and hire security guards for those facilities.

Cosmetology licensure: Senate File 2365 loosens the licensing requirements to practice cosmetology and grants state licenses to out-of-state professionals who are already licensed in another state. It also removes arranging, braiding and dressing hair from the licensure requirements.

Expanding ethanol blends: House Study Bill 689 would start a new program to help finance changes at existing fuel pumps so they can handle 15% and higher ethanol blends. Gov. Kim Reynolds has proposed $2 million in additional funding to expand the state’s renewable fuel industry.

Hemp bill: Senate Study Bill 3173 allows a retailer to sell a consumable CBD product if the manufacturing of it is in compliance with Iowa Code and the labeling meets the requirements of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. It also allows out-of-state consumable CBD products to be sold if it meets the other state’s hemp plan.

Special driver’s license: Senate File 2094 authorizes the Iowa Department of Transportation to issue licenses to minors age 14 to 18 who live or work on a farm. The license lets them drive up to 50 miles to assist with farm work. A similar bill, House Study Bill 531, also advanced.

Iowa’s official insect: Senate Study Bill 3187 makes the honeybee Iowa’s official state insect. Iowa and Michigan are the only states without an official insect.


Linh Ta
Reporter Linh Ta comes to Iowa Capital Dispatch from the Des Moines Register, where she covered trending news, public safety and the suburbs. Most recently, she has covered retail business and followed both national and local trends to provide insight about the issues that matter the most to Iowans. Beyond traditional journalism, Ta has worked as a speech coach with the Des Moines Storytellers Project with the goal of sharing the diverse perspectives of Iowans from all walks of life. She is the 2019 winner of the Young Iowa Journalist Award and the winner of an Iowa Broadcast News Award. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @linhmaita.