Iowa House File 153 (HF153)

Introduction

Looking at new legislation related to economic development recently, I was surprised to see HF153 listed there. House File 153, “An Act providing for an abortion victims monument on the capitol complex grounds”, was sponsored by House Reps Dean Fisher (District 72), Tom Gerhold (District 75), Skyler Wheeler (District 4), and Sandy Salmon (District 63). No surprise that they’re all Republicans.

Explanation of HF153

House File 153 calls for the design and erection of a monument to “abortion victims.” It notes that proposals for the monument must include:

  • Estimated total cost
  • Planned sources of funding
  • Proposed timeline for the project

It also notes that no government funds will be used to erect or maintain the monument which I’m happy about. I do wonder if this is a good use of the time of the Capitol Planning Commission, however.

The projects undertaken by the Capitol Planning Commission must meet these requirements (see page 2):

a. Preserves and enhances the dignity, beauty, and architectural integrity of the capitol building, other state office buildings, and the capitol grounds.

b. Protects and enhances the public open spaces on the capitol complex when deemed necessary for public use and enjoyment.

c. Protects the most scenic public views to and from the capitol building.

d. Recognizes the diversity of adjacent neighborhoods and reinforces the connection of the capitol complex to its neighbors and the city of Des Moines.

e. Accommodates pedestrian and motorized traffic that achieves appropriate public accessibility.

Does adding a monument on a contentious public issue enhance the dignity of the capitol building? In Oklahoma, years of controversy ensued when a 10 Commandments statute was erected at the Oklahoma Statehouse. While a monument to ‘unborn children’ is not explicitly religious it’s hard not to see the connection.

Conclusion

We’ll see if this bill goes anywhere, and I hope that the Republicans can eventually get back to the business of governing and spend less time trying to erect monuments reflecting their individual beliefs.

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