By Emily Kestel, Fearless editor
We’ve made it through the first funnel week of the Iowa Legislature, which is the deadline that requires bills to be approved by a committee.
Essentially, all bills must be voted out of their respective Senate and House committees and sent to the full chamber. Those that haven’t made it out of committee by the deadline are essentially dead, which means lawmakers cannot vote on them.
Exceptions are bills that fall under appropriations, ways and means, and government oversight committees.
While not comprehensive, here’s a look at where several bills that are related to women’s and gender issues stand:
Reproductive health and parental rights
HF 510 states that life begins at conception and would effectively make all abortions illegal. The bill says “unborn human beings” are entitled to equal protection under the law. The bill did not make it to a committee vote by the funnel deadline.
HSB 201 would give Iowa state employees paid parental leave for the first time. The proposal from Gov. Kim Reynolds would give a state worker who gives birth up to four weeks of paid leave. The nonbirthing parent would have one week. Adoptive parents would have four weeks. It passed through the House labor and workforce committee.
SF 186 requires employers to treat employees who adopt a child up to 6 years old the same way as employees who are biological parents when it comes to employment policies, benefits and protections. The bill passed unanimously through the House Feb. 22 and has passed out of the Senate workforce committee.
SF 252 requires state universities and colleges to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant students. Accommodations could include excusing absences related to the pregnancy, rescheduling exams and assignment due dates and allowing the student to take a leave of absence. The bill passed out of the Senate education committee.
SF 384 would make it a felony to assault a pregnant person if the offender knows or reasonably should know they are pregnant. The comparable legislation in the House would increase the severity of assault charges by one degree if the victim is pregnant. It passed out of the Senate judiciary committee and House public safety committee.
HF 265 would license and regulate certified professional midwives. Iowa is currently one of 13 states where CPMs, who specialize in births that occur in homes and stand-alone birthing centers, are not licensed or regulated. The bill has passed through the House state government committee.
Diversity, equity and inclusion efforts
SF 136 would eliminate Iowa’s gender balance law, which requires that all state, county and municipal boards and commissions be gender-balanced. The bill passed out of the Senate state government committee.
HSB 218 would make it so the universities governed by the Iowa Board of Regents can no longer use funds for diversity, equity and inclusion, DEI offices or such employees. The bill passed through the House education committee.
SF 335 would prohibit people from using school bathrooms and locker rooms that don’t align with their assigned gender at birth, but allow schools to provide accommodations, like single-occupancy restrooms. A similar bill in the House would do the same. The bill passed out of the Senate education committee.
SSB 1145 would require school staff members who believe a child identifies with a gender other than the one assigned at birth to notify parents or guardians, unless the staff determines there is a risk of child abuse. The bill would also create a statewide “removal list” of all books successfully challenged in any Iowa school district. Any books on that list would require parental permission for students to access. The bill passed through committee.
SSB 1197 and its House version, HSB 214, would ban gender-affirming medical care for people under the age of 18. Gender-affirming medical care could include puberty blockers, hormone treatment therapy and genital or chest surgeries. Both bills made it through their respective committees.
HF 348 bans teaching of gender identity or sexual orientation in kindergarten through sixth grade. It passed through the House education committee.
HF 190 would eliminate gender identity as a protected class from the Iowa Civil Rights Act. The bill has not made it through a subcommittee.
HJR 8 would amend the Iowa Constitution by defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. A similar bill, HF 508, would say that Iowa recognizes marriage as a “sacred religious sacrament” and that no Iowan shall be compelled to recognize any same-sex marriage as valid. Neither bill made it to a subcommittee vote.
HF 343 would allow children of full-time child care providers to be eligible for child care assistance. The bill passed through the House health and human services committee.
HF 47 would exempt Iowa child care providers from state income tax. The bill passed through committee.
The second funnel deadline, which requires Senate bills to be passed by a House Committee and House bills to make it out of a Senate committee in order to continue this year, is scheduled for March 31.
Business Record senior staff writer Michael Crumb contributed to this report.