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Maintaining the integrity of Iowa’s voting rights is a responsibility we should all take seriously. Senate Republicans will gladly discuss voting process. Over the years many of us have wanted to have this discussion with the majority party, but those overtures have fallen on deaf ears.
Now it appears likely that the voting process will come to the Senate floor for debate in the coming weeks after the State Government committee passed Senate File 127, which seeks to restore felon voting rights, on a 9-6 party line vote.
Under Senate File 127, a felon’s voting rights would be restored after they are discharged from a criminal sentence, parole, probation or supervised release. Restitution would be required to be paid, but not before the voting rights are restored. Senate Democrats have said “money” should not be the reason the voting rights are not restored. I take a different view regarding restitution. When a judge orders restitution to be paid to a victim at the conclusion of a criminal case, it is part of the sentence. In that event, restitution is not merely a matter of money; it is just as much of the sentencing process as incarceration, and it is also the element of the sentence that speaks directly to the right of victims to be made whole.
Governor Branstad favors keeping the current system in place, and I agree with him. Through this process, felons can petition the Governor to have their citizenship rights restored after they have paid their debt to society and their debt to the victims.
When it comes to the voting process, the majority party is focused more on restoring felon voting rights. This is what they deem a priority. Senate Republicans favor Voter Identification, which is an issue an overwhelming majority of Iowans want to see the Legislature address.
Senate Republicans believe our priority should be to discuss Voter ID. Asking those who cast a ballot to show a picture ID ensures Iowans our elections are efficient, effective and free of fraudulent practices. This is the conversation a majority of Iowans want us to debate at the Statehouse. Please be assured that we are eager to discuss Voter ID if voting rights comes to the Senate floor for debate.
It’s always great to have visitors from Senate District 40 show up at the Capitol. Several leaders from local county Farm Bureaus have stopped by recently encouraging us to find a way to increase funding for roads and bridges. I am somewhat optimistic we can find a compromise solution to increasing road formula funding while limiting taxpayer liability. There are some leaders of both parties from the Senate transportation committee trying to find an agreement that better funds our transportation requirements.
Also, several civic and business leaders from Oskaloosa were at the Capitol on Tuesday to advocate for our local citizens. Representative Guy Vander Linden and I arranged for them to meet with leadership from both the House and the Senate so those local leaders could make the case for our transportation and infrastructure needs in the future.
And we were delighted to have the Oskaloosa High School Stringed Ensemble on Tuesday to play “America the Beautiful” to open the sessions of both the House and the Senate. They also played for an extended period of time in the Rotunda, and the music can be heard by many. This is always a highlight of the session, not just for Representative Vander Linden and me, but for the entire legislature. We hear many glowing comments from legislators, staff and lobbyists.
I had the pleasure with meeting with students from Indian Hills in Centerville and Central College in Pella. Also, on Wednesday, Albia 11th grader Jordan Pope met with Representative Larry Sheets and me to discuss state government. It’s always a treat to visit with young people as they learn valuable lessons about our legislative process.
Senator Ken Rozenboom
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