April 15, 2024

SORENSEN: Legislature works toward age-appropriate measures

This week at the Capitol we’ve taken on the creepy and predatory sexualization of children. Predictably, there’s massive deflection with claims of hate and banning books. Why? Because that looks better in a headline, tweet, and on a t-shirt. Everything is more interesting with villains and victims and everything has to be hyper-politicized to play into the game of twisting the opposition’s intentions, which is then exacerbated in the media and online to get everyone pushed into a hate filled frenzy.

The legislature hasn’t banned any books. The bill seeks to make education and books in school age-appropriate. The question is; should graphic porn be available to elementary kids in school just because it’s in book form? Common sense says no, even the authors of those books (i.e. “Gender Queer” and “Lawn Boy”) have agreed they are not meant for children. It hasn’t occurred to most parents that they would even need to check classroom material and library books for age-appropriate content. So, HF 597 states Iowa’s educational standards must be age-appropriate, all educational programs must be age-appropriate, and all materials in school libraries must be age-appropriate. The bill goes on to define what age-appropriate is not and references the definitions of sex act in Code. Again, a parent retains the right to expose their child to whatever books and material they feel is necessary, but what it does do is tighten the age-appropriate definition to make sure schools are not using sexually explicit images and content.

These bills aren’t about hate or prejudice, as the Woke seek to deflect the argument and intent. I figure, if you want to be a different gender, a unicorn or whatever when you’re an adult, awesome, be free. But, should we be making permanent and irreversible changes to a child’s body before they’ve had a chance to fully mature? Again, common sense says no. HF 623 prohibits puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and gender surgery from being administered to any child under the age of 18 in Iowa due to the lack of conclusive evidence and the potential for long-term, permanent and irreversible side effects and damage.

A paper published in the International Review of Psychiatry states that 80% of those seeking clinical care will lose their desire to identify with their non-birth sex. According to the American College of Pediatricians, studies show that 80-95% of children who experience gender dysphoria will accept their biological sex by late adolescence. The British Medical Journal recently published an article which finds the practice of youth gender-transitions cannot be considered evidence-based. The Society for Evidence Based Gender Medicine (SEGM) states “England and Sweden, stopped or announced the intention to stop transitioning youth as routine medical practice. This change in treatment approach came about following each country’s own independent systematic reviews of evidence.” SEGM also wrote the newly emerging evidence has led “Finland to update its guidelines in 2020, sharply curbing provision of such treatment to youth and limiting it to exceptional cases.” Additionally, countries like France, Australia and New Zealand have also made changes aimed at safeguarding youth.

This week we also passed a bill to license Rural Emergency Hospitals. This is a priority bill to ensure access to emergency care in rural areas. Federal law created this designation in 2020, and has allowed this new hospital designation to begin January 1, 2023. In order for the state to allow a hospital to convert to a Rural Emergency Hospital, the state must license these facilities as a health care facility that maintains a 24-hour emergency room, but does not include acute inpatient care. Rural Emergency Hospitals receive different reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid than other hospitals, based on the federal law. Keokuk Hospital recently closed in Lee County, Iowa. This bill would allow for that hospital to reopen as a Rural Emergency Hospital, and waives the requirement for a certificate of need for that hospital.

The Department of Revenue recently updated their guidance regarding the retirement income exemption that went into effect at the beginning of this year. The department was hearing from numerous Iowans that plan administrators were still withholding on their retirement disbursements. Individuals who qualify for the retirement exclusion and believe tax on their retirement income is being erroneously withheld should contact their plan administrator to request a refund of erroneously withheld Iowa income tax and request that the administrator stop withholding Iowa income tax on future payments. The plan administrator may require the individual to complete a new IA W-4P claiming exemption from withholding. Any amounts that were correctly withheld, or that were erroneously withheld and you did not notify your plan administrator about in 2023, should be reported on your 2023 Iowa income tax return and may be refundable to the extent the withheld amount exceeds your Iowa income tax liability.

To my constituents in Adair, Madison, Dallas, Union, and Clarke—thank you for your continued support and input. I can be reached at Ray.Sorensen@legis.Iowa.gov. Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.