DES MOINES, Iowa – HF 2012, a bill that prohibits the enforcement of presidential executive orders deemed unconstitutional, advanced out of an Iowa House subcommittee by a 2 to 1 vote on Thursday.
The bill introduced by State Rep. John Wills, R-Spirit Lake, states that the legislative council can submit executive orders to the Attorney General or Governor for further review. In addition, the bill requires the Attorney General to determine the constitutionality of the executive order. The legislation also prohibits the state, and any political subdivision within the state, from enforcing an executive order that infringes on a person’s rights or that the Attorney General finds is unconstitutional.
Wills told The Iowa Torch that the bill was the same as the one filed last year.
“This is common-sense legislation to enforce limits on the federal powers of the president and take back the state’s rights to govern itself within the realms of Constitution. I believe that the Constitution grants the federal government only the enumerated power that the Constitution says it has and all other powers are enumerated to the states,” he said.
The bill had several types of presidential executive orders in mind, such as:
- presidential declarations related to a pandemic or other health emergency
- the regulation of natural resources like coal and oil
- the regulation of the agriculture industry
- the regulation of the financial sector as it relates to environmental, social, or governance standards
- the regulation of the right to bear arms
State Rep. Shannon Lundgren, R-Peosta, chaired the subcommittee and supported the bill. She said the legislation would allow Iowa to challenge an executive order by the President of the United States and halt its implementation until a review determines the order’s constitutionality.
State Rep. Jon Jacobsen, R-Council Bluffs, also voted to support the bill. He said the bill would mitigate unrecoverable damages from compliance to executive orders later found unconstitutional.
Jacobsen told The Iowa Torch that the bill will be amended.
State Rep. Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton, voted against the legislation.
“I voted no on that bill because, in my opinion, it’s stupid and also because the mechanism it proposes to address allegedly unconstitutional executive orders is itself unconstitutional. If the Governor is offended by a presidential executive order, she can ask the Attorney General to advise regarding (its) constitutionality, and if the Attorney General says, in his opinion, it isn’t constitutional, she can tell him to file a lawsuit/ask for an injunction/let the court system do its job. Yay for the separation of powers,” she told The Iowa Torch.