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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Legislator Seeks to Void President’s Executive Orders

The President of the United States uses executive orders to manage the operations of the executive branch of federal government.  Those executive orders impact how citizens, businesses, and state and local governments interact with the federal government and its agencies.  Executive orders are not laws passed by the United States House and Senate.

In a bill introduced by Representative John Wills (bill number HF2256,  previously numbered HF2012), a committee of the Iowa legislature and the Iowa Attorney General would be allowed to determine if the President of the United States and the federal agencies to implement an executive order in Iowa.

  • The process would start with the Legislative Council, which consists of 12 Senators and 12 House members.  The current make-up of the Council is 14 Republicans and 10 Democrats.  The Council would recommend to Iowa’s attorney general and governor that the executive order be reviewed.  The purpose of the Legislative Council is to serve as the steering committee of the General Assembly during months the legislature is not in session.  The Legislative Council appoints interim study committees and recommends the members of standing committees.  It also recommend changes in the rules of the House and Senate.  The Council is tasked with reviewing the effective date of rules and forms submitted by the Iowa Supreme Court and also reviews rule changes concerning elections made by the Secretary of State.
  • The Attorney General would determine if the executive order is constitutional. 
  • For an executive order deemed unconstitutional, the Attorney General would determine if the State of Iowa should seek an exemption from implementing the executive order.  Alternatively the Attorney General could seek to have the executive order ruled unconstitutional through the court system.
  • Then, if the executive order restricts a person’s rights or if the Attorney General determines that the executive order is unconstitutional, the state of Iowa and other government bodies in Iowa (cities, counties, schools) are forbidden from implementing the executive order if it relates to:
    •  a pandemic or other health emergency
    • the regulation of natural resources including coal and oil
    • the regulation of the agriculture industry
    • the use of land
    • the regulation of the financial sector as it relates to environmental, social, or government standards
    • the right to bear arms
  • The bill doesn’t define what restricting a person’s rights means.

In other words, Iowa’s state attorney general can override a President’s executive order.

This legislation could be harmful to the tax-payers of Iowa.  Clearly, it would lead to litigation – which would cost taxpayers money to defend and to pay damages.  It could lead to chaos, where the federal law and executive orders run afoul of what the attorney general decides.  Usually it is the courts that would declare an executive order to be unconstitutional, not an attorney general or a legislative committee.

This bill should not be passed!  A subcommittee of the Iowa House has agreed to move the bill to the full State Government Committee.  You can write to the committee members and ask that they do not pass the bill HF2256 (previously HF2012).  Their email address are

rob.bacon@legis.iowa.gov, Jane.Bloomingdale@legis.iowa.gov, Brooke.Boden@legis.iowa.gov, Jacob.Bossman@legis.iowa.gov, dennis.cohoon@legis.iowa.gov, Molly.Donahue@legis.iowa.gov, Eric.Gjerde@legis.iowa.gov, bruce.hunter@legis.iowa.gov, Jon.Jacobsen@legis.iowa.gov, megan.jones@legis.iowa.gov, bobby.kaufmann@legis.iowa.gov, Monica.Kurth@legis.iowa.gov, Shannon.Lundgren@legis.iowa.gov, mary.mascher@legis.iowa.gov, Ann.Meyer@legis.iowa.gov, Joe.Mitchell@legis.iowa.gov, Tom.Moore@legis.iowa.gov, Amy.Nielsen@legis.iowa.gov, Carter.Nordman@legis.iowa.gov, Mike.Sexton@legis.iowa.gov, Brent.Siegrist@legis.iowa.gov, cindy.winckler@legis.iowa.gov, mary.wolfe@legis.iowa.gov

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