July 19, 2024

SORENSEN: AEA bill dead in the House, and other Week 4 items

Ray "Bubba" Sorensen

This week, we held a subcommittee on the Governor’s AEA proposal. In the end, the subcommittee decided not to advance the bill to the full committee, citing the need for more conversations on the matter. It has become clear that after taking feedback from Iowans, there is not the support in the House to move this bill forward in its current form. It is still alive in the Senate, but have heard it is on life-support, we will continue to work with stakeholders and get feedback from Iowans to ensure that anything we pass in the House will truly help improve special education in our state.

A Winterset childcare facility came to me with a workforce flexibility bill they wanted me to run. House File 2056 would allow for additional workers to be able to assist during nap times and breaks. In 2022, the legislature allowed 16- and 17-year-olds to work in child-care centers with children 5 years and older. This bill would allow those workers to assist with younger children during naps and brief periods.

House Study Bill 556 would create a new scholarship program called the National Guard Service Continuing Education Scholarship Program. Currently, there is already a scholarship programs for folks who have served in the Iowa National Guard to receive financial aid to attend a four-year university. This bill creates a new scholarship program that can be used at more continuing education programs, beyond just the four-year university option. Servicemen and women could use this scholarship at nontraditional continuing education plans that are becoming more and more popular like community colleges.

This week The House Judiciary committee took action on bills to address the issue of pornography created through artificial intelligence. The first bill, now HF 2240, ensures a person can be charged with harassment if they share AI-generated pornography without the permission of the person it is created to look like. Violation of this law is harassment in the first degree and is an aggressive misdemeanor, punishable by confinement for no more than two years and a fine of at least $855 but not more than $8,540. The second bill, now HF 2049, addresses AI-generated porn related to minors. This bill makes it a felony to create or possess an AI-generated pornographic content of a minor. As technology has advanced, this is unfortunately an update to code that needs to be made to protect Iowans. With these bills, we can ensure that there is no loophole in the law that would allow someone who commits this disturbing offense to avoid proper punishment.

HF 2103 would require child support to apply while the child is still in the womb. This would mean a father’s obligation to pay child support would begin as soon as the mother is pregnant, not when the child is born. We have passed strong laws to protect unborn children. We must also pass policies to ensure all children, especially those born into difficult situations, have the support they need. There are a lot of costs that occur during the pregnancy. From doctor’s appointments to the supplies new parents must have ready for when the child is born. Right now, child support laws imply only the mother must bear the responsibility for those costs. This bill would ensure that fathers are held accountable as well.

This week, the House introduced two pieces of legislation to ensure the State of Iowa does not have policies that incentivize or reward illegal immigration. House File 2128 requires proof that you are in the country legally before you can receive in-state tuition at Iowa’s regent institutions. House File 2112 would ensure that no one who is in the country illegally qualifies for public assistance programs. This bill was introduced this week and is scheduled for subcommittee Tuesday. We cannot allow our state’s policies to incentivize people to come to our country illegally. That would be unsustainable and unfair to our immigrants who do follow the proper process to legally live here.

You can reach me at Ray.Sorensen@legis.iowa.gov. Thank you, counties of Adair, Madison, Dallas, Clarke and Union, for allowing me to represent you at our Capitol. Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.