DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Senate passed an amended version of HF 744, a bill to protect free speech in schools, by a 46 to 0 vote on Tuesday. The bill passed in the Iowa House of Representatives by a 97 to 1 vote on March 16.
HF 744 provides additional free speech protections for students and staff in K-12 schools and college campuses. It prohibits faculty and staff from intentionally violating the free speech of students and allows disciplinary measures if violations occur. And, it requires free speech training at all Regent universities for students and faculty.
State Senator Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton, the bill manager, said the bill included language similar to SF 478 that the Iowa Senate passed 33 to 14 on March 8. That particular bill also prohibited racial and sex stereotyping in diversity training, language that the Iowa House passed in a separate bill on March 16. That bill, HF 802, passed out of the Iowa Senate Education Committee on March 30.
She introduced an amendment that passed via voice vote some elements to the bill Sinclair said existed in SF 478 but that the Iowa House omitted from their version of the bill.
Sinclair explained that the amendment adds language that limits a student government’s authority over funds if it violates the First Amendment rights of a member of the campus community. The amendment also codifies the three-member nonpartisan free speech committee that the Iowa Board of Regents developed. The amendment also authorizes the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners to deny or revoke a license if a licensee has discriminated against a student. The amendment also adds language protecting school employees and officials from retaliation for protecting the First Amendment rights of students publishing a school newspaper.
There was no discussion about the amendment, and it was passed by a voice vote. There wasn’t any debate over the bill when it passed unanimously. The amended bill goes back to the Iowa House for its consideration.