The Alons Archive

     (SBA) - We are rapidly approaching the end of the 2024 legislative session, which is scheduled to end next Tuesday (April 16), but could run a bit longer with a number of bills and the final budget yet to be finished.  The Senate did have week busy with multiple budget committee meetings, floor debate every day working through the many bills that remain unfinished, and an international committee meeting with visitors from Kosovo.
     A number of bills have advanced through both chambers and have either been signed by Governor Kim Reynolds or are eligible for her signature.
     SF2095 – The Religious Freedom Restoration Act – I have covered this bill in this newsletter at various times during its advance this year, but on April 2 this bill became law with the signature of the governor.  This bill, based on a federal law signed by then President Clinton in 1993, ensures that when citizens have their religious rights infringed, they can 1) bring a suit to challenge, 2) their case will be evaluated using strict scrutiny, and 3) any burden against their rights are due to a compelling interest and are the least restrictive means of doing so.
     HF2605 – Hemp Regulations – this bill was introduced in the House, and was passed by the Senate last week and it closes an unintentional loophole in a previous law concerning the production, sale, and marketing of hemp.  I learned quite a bit about marijuana, hemp (basically low THC containing marijuana), the related but very different Iowa medical cannabidiol (medical marijuana) law, and THC infused drinks (basically intoxicating drinks containing substantial amounts of THC). 
     My military background has limited my exposure and knowledge of all things marijuana, but it seems when used responsibly and in a natural form, extracts from hemp can have positive effects.  Unfortunately the cannabis “market” is confusing, poorly defined, is lacking age access rules, and all too often is marketed and packaged inappropriately.  This bill addresses many of these concerns and adds more clear definitions for law enforcement but I hope additional clarity can be brought to the positive aspects of these products to allow better access to non-intoxicating “full spectrum” products in the future.
     Two different Constitutional Amendments concerning taxes advanced, both of which are aimed at ensuring Iowa taxpayers have a say in the tax rates they pay.  Since these are resolutions for a constitutional amendment, they will have to be passed in 2 different general assemblies and then will be up for a vote by the people for ultimate passage.
     HJR2006 – This resolution would require a 2/3 majority vote for state income tax law changes.  This amendment passed both chambers this year and if passed again in the next two years will be brought to a populate vote of the people.  There are already several things in Iowa code requiring a 2/3rds majority vote, to include confirming governor appointments and overriding a governor veto.
SJR2004 – This resolution requires a flat income tax (which Iowa will have beginning in 2026 as defined by current law).  This resolution passed the Senate and is waiting for House concurrence to be eligible for passage in the next 2 years.
     SF2411 – Foreign land ownership law – this bill was signed into law this week which strengthens Iowa’s land ownership laws to further protect our state’s great resource, tightening those rules, and providing us with more information about foreign ownership of Iowa land and the justification for this ownership.
     Some bills I continue to advocate for and hope will get a floor vote in the Senate yet this year: 
     •HF2617 – fetal development bill – aka “The Baby Olivia” bill
     •HF2664 – this bill deals with the use of eminent domain for hazardous liquid pipelines in Iowa and provides a legal mechanism to preemptively petition the constitutionality of its use before a decision by the Iowa Utilities Board – which can take a long time to complete during which time the landowner endures an encumbrance against their property.  I believe these provisions are needed to protect the right to own property as defined by our state and US Constitution.
     •HF2545 – Iowa Curriculum Review bill
     •SF2337 – Hands Free + Traffic camera ban
     •SF2376 & SF2380 – election integrity related bills
     •HF2401 – Pharmacy Benefit Manager reform bill
     •HF626 – non-medical switching bill
     •HF2602 – define “grooming” of a child as a felony crime
     It is an honor to serve Monona, Woodbury, Plymouth and Cherokee county citizens in the Iowa capitol.