That's a wrap for the 2021 Legislative Session - here's a quick recap
May 19, 2021 marked the end of the 2021 Legislative Session in Iowa - the 129th day of the scheduled 110-day session. Session was held entirely in-person despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and elected officials kept us busier than ever this year.
IowaCASA tracked nearly 100 bills this legislative session. Some of the bills we championed passed this year, while others may come up in future legislative sessions. Here are some of the wins we had:
The Sexual Assault Kit Tracking System and the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Program bills passed unanimously through the legislature and were signed into law on May 19. The Sexual Assault Kit Tracking System bill will include requirements of survivor notification and allow survivors to privately log in to review the status of their kit (without requiring charges to be filed), while the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Program bill provides training and resources to health care professionals. Together these bills provide more access to qualified and trained examiners who know how to collect and handle evidence, and provide survivors with more confidence in the system that is processing and storing their evidence (and know when it may be destroyed).
Funding for victim services: The Legislature approved $5 million for victim services, which is the same amount funded as last year. While we are relieved that funding wasn't cut, we advocated hard for $7.5 million in funding this year, a $2.5 million increase. While efforts for additional funding were not successful, we will continue to push for this in years to come.
We also pushed back against a number of egregious bills this year, with varying degrees of success and failure. Thanks to the tireless efforts of One Iowa Action and Iowa Safe Schools, all of the anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this session were defeated. Some of the bills we saw move forward include problematic constitutional amendments for guns and abortion, both of which IowaCASA opposed.
We also witnessed hours of debate on a bill to bar Iowa schools from using the Pulitzer Prize award-winning 1619 Project curriculum that reframes American history by including the legacy of slavery in the narrative. While the bill died, another bill took its place. The new bill, HF 802, would ban classroom instruction and government diversity trainings from teaching certain concepts, such as that America is systemically racist or sexist. HF 802 unfortunately made it all the way through the legislature. The bill has not yet been signed into law - we urge you to contact Gov. Reynolds and ask her to veto this harmful bill today!
While this legislative session was challenging in many ways, we couldn't have done it without the collaboration of our supporters and the overall community. Your emails, phone calls, letters, and advocacy with elected officials made all the difference this year. Thank you for your work to uplift survivors' voices and the importance of victim services in Iowa.
For an active list of bills that made it through this legislative session, check out the IowaCASA Bill Tracker by clicking here.