IOWA SENATE: Driscoll Dispatch

The eighth week of this year’s session is known as “funnel week” in the legislature. This week is the first legislative deadline of the year. All Senate policy bills must have passed through committee in order to be considered for the rest of the year. With all the talk of what this week is like from previous years, I was anticipating a very chaotic week, but oddly enough, it was very slow. I heard that our busy week last week might have helped make this week not so crazy. I know there were a number of committees who had a lot of work to do this week, I am just not on any of those.

I spent a lot of this week making contact with people from my district and talking with them on their opinions on pieces of legislation from this session. I also used the slower week to my advantage and got caught back up on organizing my things here at the Capitol and making sure everything is as it should be.

Smiling with my daughter Erica at the top of the Capitol after climbing 357 stairs from the ground floor stairs to the top of the dome!

One of my daughters, Erica, joined me for a day down in Des Moines. Erica followed me around to see what a typical day here looks like. It was so amazing introducing her to my colleagues and friends as well as letting her see what I am doing while I am not at home. I gave her a little tour of the Capitol, which included taking her to the top of the dome. Although I am scared of heights, I think we both agreed that this was something awesome to experience together and an absolutely breathtaking view!

For those of you who have been following along with my first bill, the Barber Bill, it was also passed out of the House of Representatives State Government Committee on Thursday morning. Since I only had one committee meeting Thursday, I got the chance to sit in on this meeting. This was my first House meeting I attended and it was definitely interesting to see how different it is from the Senate! With that being said, I am glad to see this bill moving at a similar pace over in the House.

Passing Constitutional Carry for Iowans

This week, SSB 1232 passed out of the Judiciary Committee. This bill makes a number of changes to Iowa’s gun laws, the most important being allowing Iowans to carry firearms without a government permission slip. Although I am not a member of the Judiciary Committee, I know this was an issue I received many emails on, so I wanted to give you all an update on it.

This bill says a person no longer needs a permit to lawfully carry or transport a dangerous weapon, either open or concealed, including a loaded firearm. It also allows a buyer of a pistol or a revolver have either a permit to acquire or a permit to carry, or a satisfactory national instant criminal background check, and creates the crime of carrying firearms on school grounds, making it a class “D” felony. A number of exceptions are created with it, including people specifically authorized by the school, peace officers, or any person carrying in a vehicle where the weapon is unloaded in a fastened case or is inaccessible to the persons in the vehicle. Additionally, the bill allows EMS personnel to acquire a professional permit to carry if they are attached to a law enforcement tactical team, requiring law enforcement-level training and certification, and requires the Department of Public Safety to adopt rules expanding available training opportunities and licensing.

During the committee process, the question was brought up – what problem does this legislation solve? The Constitution protects individual rights from undue infringement by the government. This bill limits the infringement on that constitutional right of Iowans. Senate Republicans have always taken constitutional rights seriously, whether it is protecting freedom of speech on campuses and in classrooms or ensuring future infringements on the right to own a firearm are reviewed with the strictest form of judicial review. We are again taking up legislation to protect rights granted by the constitution and take down the barriers and obstacles often standing in the way.

Outside the Legislature

A lovely display at the Roehrkasse Meat Co. in Williamsburg, Iowa.

Last Saturday, I visited Roehrkasse Meat Co. to see their meat locker, but to also speak with them about what we can do in the legislature to assist them. I learned a little bit about the CARES Act funding in 2020 and what that provided to meat lockers. Although this assistance was beneficial to them, I learned a lot about the hardships of meat lockers that I did not previously know they experienced. While visiting the meat locker, we discussed what kind of legislation would help them the most. They explained to me that most meat lockers have a two year waiting period before they are able to get new clients onto their list. There are many reasons for why it takes so long. Some of these being the fact that they cannot expand their facility, they are only able to make improvements with the existing space that they have. Another issue is that they do not have enough employees who are able to assist with the process. We discussed things the legislature could do to help them over the next couple of years to process more meat. This visit was a learning experience for me and I am eager to support legislation that would assist meat lockers!

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