DES MOINES — As Iowa legislators join at least 14 other Republican-controlled states in proposing an unprecedented flurry of anti-LGBTQ+ bills, One Iowa Action is seeking to help concerned citizens track the proposals.
The lobbying arm of Iowa’s leading LGBTQ+ rights advocate, One Iowa, lists the status of 29 proposed bills on its “Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills 2023” page. The page tracks proposals including SB 348, which would ban drag shows before minors, and two other proposals that would ban “gender-affirming care” for minors. The page tracks where each bill is in Iowa’s two-month legislative process. It also links readers to the legislators sponsoring the bills, through pages that include those legislators’ email addresses and phone numbers.
One Iowa Action annual bill-tracking page gaining more focus this year
The page is a service that One Iowa Action provides every year. But this year it’s getting greater focus among not only politics-watchers, but LGBTQ+ bars and nonprofit groups. That’s because Iowa is among 14 states noted by the ACLU for an unprecedented number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills proposed by Republican state legislators this year. In addition to banning gender-affirming care and drag shows for minors, the proposals include, among other items:
- limits on mentioning gender and sexual identity in public school classrooms for kindergarten through sixth grade
- bans on gender-neutral bathrooms in schools
- requirements for parental notification and permission when students request a pronoun or name different than they were assigned at birth;
- and ending legal protections for same-sex marriages.
Though the proposals all need to go through seven or eight steps at minimum before becoming law, activists are concerned early in the process. Many of the proposals resemble actual new laws passed this year or last year in other states. They include Tennessee, which last week became the first state to ban drag shows among minors; and Florida, which has led the way on numerous anti-LGBTQ+ laws including a transgender sports ban and a so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law that bans teachers up to third grade from mentioning gender or sexual identity.
To support One Iowa Action’s efforts, The Garden Nightclub is providing downloadable pro-LGBTQ+ flags and memes. The Blazing Saddle bar is encouraging its Facebook followers to contact their legislators, and Studio 13 in Iowa City also encouraged paying attention to One Iowa along with Pride organizations and the ACLU.
Clock Inc. LGBT Community Center in the Quad Cities has also posted press releases encouraging Quad Cities residents to speak out agains the proposals by contacting legislators.
At least 16 Iowa bills about gender, sexual identity advance through key panels
So far, four of the anti-LGBTQ+ proposals have made it through one of the house’s committees, meeting the first “funnel” deadline of this Friday. They can move on to be considered by a committee of the other house. Another 12 of the 29 bills being tracked by One Iowa Action have made it through one-half of Iowa’s two-tiered committee process, through a subcommittee. They still have to win a committee’s approval by this Friday to advance.
Tuesday saw two of those bills advance through subcommittees: one that requires school officials to notify parents when a student asks for a different pronoun or name than is known to their family, and another that would ban transgender students from using a bathroom that matched their chosen identity rather than their “assigned at birth” identity. No word is yet available on whether those bills are scheduled before a committee.
A bill that would limit drag performances among minors was scheduled to be heard by a subcommittee Tuesday, but that meeting was cancelled. No word has been posted yet on whether that subcommittee hearing will be rescheduled, or whether subcommittees will hear any of the other 13 bills being tracked by One Iowa Action.
Iowa’s ‘funnel weeks’ will determine whether proposals are considered
Proposals for bills in the Iowa Legislature must receive the approval of a subcommittee, and a committee, by Friday to advance for further consideration.
Those that make it through this first so-called “funnel” will go before their full house of origin in March. If approved by their house of origin, those bills must then receive approval by a committee in the other house by March 31, the second “funnel,” to proceed.
The bills that make it through both “funnels” are the ones that have a chance to become law. Only bills that are debated by both houses and receive both houses’ approval by vote, in identical form, by April 28 are sent to Reynolds’ desk for signature to become law.
Iowa’s political party dynamics are one reason why LGBTQ+ advocacy groups are concerned so early in Iowa’s legislative process. Iowa is among 22 states where its House, Senate and executive branch are all controlled by one party. In Iowa, for years, that party has been the Republican Party, leaving Democrats and NPA politicians little influence on the law-making process.
Watch One Iowa Action’s “Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills 2023” page, and information sources like The Real Mainstream, to monitor the proposals’ status. To learn more about the legislative process in Iowa, read this document from the Legislative Services Agency and the Des Moines Registers’ explanation of “funnel weeks” in Iowa.
You can also join One Iowa Action’s upcoming “Urgent Meeting for Iowa Trans Families” happening online March 9.