It’s been a busy week for me in the Iowa House. I had the honor of floor-managing three bills to passage on the House floor, two of which were bills I originally filed. My two bills concerned child endangerment and family law, and the third bill concerned human trafficking. All three bills go now to the Senate, where they must make it through committee by Thursday to survive the “second funnel.”

My child endangerment bill imposed a mandatory minimum sentence of 15-35 years for intentional use of unreasonable force, torture, or cruelty that causes or intends to cause serious bodily injury resulting in death. I filed this bill on behalf of a Linn County family whose 17-month-old toddler was beaten to death by her father. The father received a 50 year sentence but incredibly is eligible for parole after only a year. Additionally, this bill adjusts the mandatory minimum for the nonviolent crime of robbery in the 2nd degree to 3-7 years, partially implementing a nonpartisan recommendation of the Iowa Department of Human Rights’ Public Safety Advisory Board. This bill was a cooperative team effort between Republicans and Democrats, resulting in unanimous passage on the House floor.

My family law bill leveled the playing field for parents in divorce proceedings, establishing joint physical care of children as the presumptive standard unless doing so is not in the best interest of the child. Studies show that maximum involvement of both parents in these situations is the best thing for children, and establishing joint physical care as the presumptive standard would be the best for the kids (in most circumstances), cut down on litigation and treat parents equally. This bill was amended on the floor to also establish joint custody as the presumptive standard unless doing so was not in the best interest of the child. As amended, this bill will treat mothers and fathers equally when it comes to making major decisions for their children as well as when it comes to physical care of their children following divorce, but it will always allow for the judge to rule differently in the best interest of the child. This bill passed by a narrow margin with bipartisan support.

Finally, I floor-managed a bill that would help combat human trafficking. Human traffickers often fraudulently open credit cards in the names of their minor victims, using these credit cards both as a revenue source and as a means to entrap young girls or boys. This bill makes it illegal to open a credit card in a minor’s name without parental consent, and then makes it illegal as well to use such a credit card. This bill passed unanimously on the floor of the House.

Express your thoughts