In the first two weeks of the 2015 legislative session, House Democrats have been busy crafting legislation that would both abolish existing state law that names English as the state’s official language, and that would offer in-state tuition to illegal entrants at Iowa’s Regents universities and community colleges.
House File 26, offered by state Rep. Bruce Hunter (D-Des Moines), would repeal the Iowa English Language Reaffirmation Act, which states that English is the official language of the State of Iowa. It also would repeal laws that establish rules of construction for English-language laws.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund, and the Iowa Catholic Conference have all declared their support for the bill. The Iowa Minuteman Civil Defense Corps is the only organization to have declared opposition to the proposed legislation.
House File 75, offered this week by Hunter and a host of House Democrats, would direct the boards of directors of Iowa’s community colleges and the Iowa Board of Regents to establish new classifications for students who are illegal entrants to receive in-state tuition benefits. The bill specifies only those who have been in Iowa for at least five years, and who have either graduated from an Iowa high school, or have a high school equivalency certificate from Iowa, are eligible for the new classification.
The bill requires illegals to sign an affidavit stating they will seek U.S. citizenship “at the earliest possible time” they are able to do so.
The Iowa Board of Regents has declared itself undecided on HF 75, as has Kaplan Higher Education. The Iowa Catholic Conference has declared its support for the bill.