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DES MOINES — During discussion of legislation that would prohibit schools and child care centers from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for children, a state senator on Wednesday falsely claimed the COVID-19 vaccines were not effective or safe.
“We need to put to rest that COVID-19 is an effective and safe vaccine,” Sen. Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, said during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting. “They keep trying to do things (vaccine shots and booster shots). It doesn’t work. These things are not effective.”
Schultz went on to accuse advocates for the vaccines of having a “hive mindset.”
“We have to move past this, and we have to get past the semi-quasi-science clergy who have turned what used to be a respected industry, the science industry, into a club to beat people over the head,” Schultz said.
The Iowa bill under consideration, House File 2298, would prohibit K-12 schools, colleges and child care centers from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine in children.
Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee approved moving the bill forward, while Democrats voted against it.
“This legislation, I think, is dangerous. It continues to erode public confidence in safe vaccinations,” Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, said during the committee meeting.
With its passage out of committee and having previously passed the House, the bill remains eligible for the remainder of this year’s legislative session and now goes before the full Senate.
The medical community and infectious disease experts widely agree, and data shows, that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing hospitalization and death.
The Associated Press last June reported that its analysis of federal data showed that only about 150 of the more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths in May 2021, or about 0.8 percent, were in fully vaccinated people.
FRANKENSTEIN BILL: House Republicans were unable to muster support Wednesday for what has been dubbed the “Frankenstein bill” combining tort reform for commercial motor vehicles and a ban on so-called vaccine passports.
Republicans, who control the House 60-40, tried and failed to amend Senate File 2139 dealing with wrecked or salvage vehicles with cosmetic damage.
Rep. Mike Bousselot, R-Ankeny, offered the vaccine-tort reform language, but it was ruled not germane. Bousselot then moved to suspend the rules. That failed, 50-48, with many House members opposed to mask and vaccine mandates voting “no.”
The House then adjourned for the day.
A House Republican spokesperson said the GOP believed it had 51 votes when the bill was brought up. Supporters will try again, she added.
Before attempting to amend it on the Senate File 2139, the tort reform language was part of a bill that would have reduced unemployment benefits.
ATVS ON HIGHWAYS: The Senate advanced legislation that would allow ATVs to be driven on noninterstate primary highways and secondary roads in Iowa.
House File 2130 was approved by the Senate state government committee with bipartisan support, keeping it eligible for the remainder of the session. It now goes before the full Senate.
DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME: A bill that would move Iowa to permanent daylight saving time — provided it gets clearance from the federal government and all bordering states do the same — was approved by the Senate’s state government committee.
With that advancement, House File 2331 remains eligible for consideration and goes before the full Senate.
PERSONNEL RECORDS: Senate File 2196 — a bill requiring employers to provide employees with one copy of the employee’s personnel file at no charge upon request — cleared the House State Government Committee.
Under current law, an employer may charge a reasonable fee for each page of a copy of an item in the employee’s personnel file. The bill permits employers to charge such fees for any subsequent copies requested.
The Senate approved the measure, 47-0.
ECONOMIC INDICATORS: The Iowa Leading Indicators Index increased 0.1 percent to 110.0 from December 2021 to January 2022.
The monthly diffusion index increased to 62.5 from 37.5. The index had decreased as much as 3.0 percent (June 2020) from March 2020 to a low of 103.4 before bouncing back.
The Iowa nonfarm employment coincident index recorded a 0.18 percent increase in January, the tenth month in a row of growth.
January was a rebound from December 2021, the first monthly decline since August 2020. Despite the one-month decline in December, long term trends in the index suggest that the nonfarm employment will continue to improve over the next three to six months.
Initial unemployment insurance claims was the strongest contributor to the index in January.
The 12-month moving average of weekly unemployment insurance claims decreased to 3,098 in January from 3,364 in December. Average monthly claims have declined 51.7 percent from last January, and were 29.6 percent below the monthly historical average (1988-2021).
Weekly unemployment insurance claims have improved dramatically from their unprecedented highs of March and April 2020.
Residential building permits and the national yield spread went from index detractors in December to positive contributors in January.
However, the new orders index went from a positive in December to a detractor in January, decreasing from 72.7 to 70.4. However, the 12-month moving average of the new orders index has increased from 60.7 in January 2021.
Gazette Des Moines Bureau