Governor Reynolds of Iowa signed a bill relevant to free speech into law on March 27, 2019. This bill affects higher education institutions in Iowa because it requires these institutions to adopt statements regarding free speech inclusive of specific provisions. However, this law is controversial because of section 3.3, which states:
In addition, a public institution of higher education shall not deny any benefit or privilege to a student organization based on the student organization’s requirement that the leaders of the student organization agree to and support the student organization’s beliefs, as those beliefs are interpreted and applied by the organization, and to further the student organization’s mission. (Senate File 274).
This statement is controversial as it would allow students to deny its members access to leadership roles depending on certain beliefs but still accept university benefits. Those critical of this law worry that this could lead to discrimination based on student identity (see that opinion written by Obradovich, 2019). Others have noted that the signing of this law was closed to the media (Cummings, 2019). The Iowa State Daily noted that students endorsed this bill prior to learning about the controversial section of 3.3, but after learning of this section withdrew their endorsement (see Leeson, 2019). The support for this bill was divided among party lines, at least in the House, with Republicans supporting it and Democrats disclaiming it mainly due to the controversial section 3.3 (Sostaric, 2019).
Cummings, C. (2019, March). Gov. Kim Reynolds signs campus free speech bill into law. KHQA News. Retrieved from https://khqa.com/news/local/gov-kim-reynolds-signs-campus-free-speech-bill-into-law
Leeson, D. (2019, March). Reynolds signs controversial bill regarding religious liberties and free speech on campus. Iowa State Daily. Retrieved from http://www.iowastatedaily.com/news/reynolds-signs-discriminatory-bill-bar-lgbt-leadership/article_c21d0ce4-50da-11e9-a3b2-773bd50d304a.html?fbclid=IwAR0eZvKAF45UFwUstLuV_0kaEhqzuKEjMSWnHw6O5ZvQbVYoXsfM6XPoGZM
Obradovich, K. (2019, April). GOP keeps confusing free speech and religion with freedom to discriminate. Des Moines Register. Retrieved from https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/kathie-obradovich/2019/04/04/iowa-gop-keeps-confusing-free-speech-freedom-discriminate-religious-liberty-campus-1st-amendment/3357881002/?fbclid=IwAR1tLhNBO8Axt5X7hF8V0k68R5w7xTjky3bLKYyeh_-DuFoZy-a4W7rwDyo
Senate File 274. (2019, March). Retrieved from https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ga=88&ba=SF274
Sostaric, K. (2019, March). Iowa governor signs campus free speech bill into law. Iowa Public Radio. Retrieved from https://www.iowapublicradio.org/post/iowa-governor-signs-campus-free-speech-bill-law#stream/0