116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Gov. Kim Reynolds announced this week that Iowa will stop administering additional federal unemployment benefits tied to the pandemic and its economic consequences. Her decision is a cruel mistake, and it fits a pattern of Reynolds embracing policies being undertaken in other red states with little regard for whether they’re right for Iowa.
Earlier this year, Reynolds signed package of unneeded election changes approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature. In doing so she followed the lead of several red states where GOP leaders are trying to make voting more difficult using by deploying the poisonous fiction that the 2020 election was “stolen” from former President Donald Trump.
A couple of weeks ago Reynolds appeared on a Fox News forum with other red state governors and announced she’s asking the Legislature for a bill banning transgender girls from participating in girls’ sports. Again, Reynolds opted to fall in line behind states such as Mississippi and Arkansas peddling mean-spirited policy targeting kids to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.
Cookie-cutter red state bills placing new hurdles in front of Iowans in need of public assistance and limiting state unemployment benefits remain alive in the final days of the legislative session. Reynolds recently signed a bill allowing landlords to refuse tenants who receive federal housing vouchers.
Like Florida and some other red states, Iowa GOP leaders are answering last summer’s protests for social justice and against systemic racism with a bill that cracks down on protest and sets tougher criminal penalties for those involved. Iowa and Oklahoma bills include some immunity for motorists who drive into protests.
Now, the governor is denying unemployment benefits to thousands of Iowans. Without regard for individual struggles or hard data, she’s cutting off Iowans who she claims would rather get benefits than work. It’s the same argument used by red state governors across the country.
Once upon a time, Iowa prided itself on finding Iowa solutions to issues and problems facing the state. We’ve been justifiable proud of our nonpartisan redistricting system and a judicial selection process that sought to insulate itself from damaging political whims. The collective bargaining system for public employees was a bipartisan achievement that stood for 40 years before GOP lawmakers gutted it in 2017. They followed the lead of Wisconsin.
Those days are long gone as Reynolds and Republicans have sought to nationalize Statehouse politics, dragging once-moderate Iowa into the Trump fever swamps. Iowa solutions are now cooked up in conservative think tanks and bill mills elsewhere.
Iowa leaders must start looking to Iowans for solutions again. And that process starts with actually talking to the people affected by these misguided policies. These are your constituents. Their concerns and futures should count a whole lot more than the Trump GOP’s drive for political domination.
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