Iowa lawmakers pass teacher raises; penalties for fetal deaths

The bill passed with a vote of 58 to 36, with six members not voting.

(The Center Square) - The Iowa House of Representatives ended its week with debates over teacher raises and increased penalties for fetal deaths.

House File 2630 would increase the minimum teacher salary to $47,500 in fiscal year 2025 and $50,000 in fiscal year 2026. The minimum salary for education support personnel would be $15 per hour beginning in FY 2025.

Rep. Mark Cisneros, R-Muscatine, cast the lone "no" vote on the bill.

The raises will increase general fund appropriations by an additional $64 million compared to fiscal year 2024, according to the bill's fiscal note. Another $19.8 million increase over FY 2025 appropriations would be needed to fund the raises in FY 2026.

Representatives hotly debated House File 2575 that would change the penalties for the death of an "unborn person."

The bill changes the definition of "human pregnancy" to "unborn person," which is defined as "an individual organism of the species homo sapiens from fertilization to live birth."

Anyone who intentionally caused the death of an unborn person during the commission of a forcible felony would face a Class A felony that carries a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, up from a Class B felony that carries a sentence of no more than 25 years, according to the bill. Terminating a pregnancy without the consent of the pregnant person would increase from a Class C felony to a Class A felony.

Other changes include an upgrade in charges for anyone who kills an unborn person while driving intoxicated from a Class C felony that carries a sentence of no more than 10 years to a Class B Felony.

"This measure is a blatant attempt to advance an anti-abortion agenda and further enshrine the myth of fetal personhood in our state code," said Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames. "This bill will further stigmatize abortion patients and providers. It is nothing more than an anti-abortion propaganda and is nothing more than a far-reaching, long-term strategy to undermine the rights and well-being of pregnant people."

Rep. Skyler, Wheeler, R-Orange City, the bill's sponsor, said the bill is very simple and should have taken two minutes.

"It increases penalties for crimes that are ridiculous," Wheeler said. "Killing a mother and/or her unborn baby, you should face some pretty stiff penalties for that. This definition is currently in code so if you are all worried about all this different things you bring up, you should have been worried about it a long time ago because the definition already exists."

The bill passed with a vote of 58 to 36, with six members not voting.

Iowa lawmakers face a March 15 deadline to get bills from the other chamber out of committees. Beginning March 18, The Senate can only consider House bills, and the House can only consider Senate bills.