Rep. Steven Holt, D18, R-Denison

1/31/19

Contests, Unborn Children & Education

Week 3

Week 3 in the Iowa House was highlighted by a decision in the contested election for House District 55, intense Judiciary Committee work and discussion on K-12 education funding. On a personal level, I contemplated the horror of New York and Virginia’s effort to legalize abortion all the way until birth and beyond.

The Election Contest Committee, of which I was Chair, reviewed the facts in the election contest and the arguments and evidence presented by both attorneys. At issue was whether to count 29 absentee ballots that were received after Election Day in the House District 55 election. The Republican, Michael Bergan, won the election against Democrat Kayla Koether by 9 votes. The contestant, Kayla Koether, believed the 29 late-arriving absentee ballots should be opened and counted. A careful study of the law and the facts in the case led the majority of the committee to conclude that the ballots did not meet the legal requirement to be counted, because they lacked a postmark or Intelligent Mail barcode, as is required in Iowa code 53.17. This requirement is important in determining that the ballots were placed in the mail prior to election day. To count these ballots would mean we were treating them differently than over 1,000 other absentee ballots across the state that were lawfully rejected because they did not meet the legal requirements. The full House voted to approve the Committee report and reject the contest, bringing the issue to an end.

In Judiciary we are moving forward on updates to Conservatorship and Guardianship laws; possible revisions to pet animal cruelty laws; criminal justice reforms; and discussions on the Governor’s initiative to restore felony voting rights once the debt to society has been paid. I am also continuing to work on what I regard as one of our highest priorities this year: Judicial nomination reform that will give more voice to the people through their elected representatives, while providing judicial nominees that understand the role of the judiciary in interpreting the law as opposed to legislating from the bench. For those who value our representative democracy and the unique role each branch of government plays, this issue is critical.

I continue to work with other House members to find ways to protect our unborn children. It is horrifying to see states moving to legalize abortion all the way up until birth, or even contemplating cutting the spinal cord during birth. This is pure evil. It is also another compelling reason to ensure we have a judicial system that interprets the law without regard to political agendas. Unborn lives matter and we must continue to stand up and protect them. The soul of our state and nation are at stake, as well as 12 children on average per day in Iowa lost forever to abortion.

2nd Amendment protections are also in work. Legislation protecting gun rights will likely move through the Public Safety Committee, and I am working with Rep. Windschitl and others to get this done.

Funding K-12 education is always an early priority in the House and this year is no exception. We have enacted numerous changes in the last several years to give greater flexibility to our schools in how they spend their funds, and we are hearing from superintendents that these changes have been a great help to them. This week it was reported that Iowa once again leads the nation in high school graduation rates, but much more needs to be done in ensuring we are fostering citizenship, patriotism and proficiency in skills that will meet the workforce needs of our state. We expect to set funding levels soon, while continuing to look for innovative ways to help districts stretch their dollars further.

I am honored to serve as your State Representative. You can call me at 712-269-4042 or email me at steven.holt@legis.iowa.gov.

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