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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES --- Iowa’s public colleges and governmental entities are prohibited from teaching “divisive concepts” --- including that moral character is determined by one’s race or sex, or that the United States and Iowa are fundamentally or systematically racist --- under legislation signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Kim Reynolds.
The legislation itself was a divisive concept: In large part, Republicans supported and Democrats opposed it.
“Critical Race Theory is about labels and stereotypes, not education. It teaches kids that we should judge others based on race, gender or sexual identity, rather than the content of someone’s character,” Reynolds, a Republican, said in a statement. “I am proud to have worked with the legislature to promote learning, not discriminatory indoctrination.”
Democrats argued the legislation, House File 802, stifles schools’ control over their curriculum and threatens to squelch the teaching of and discussions over uncomfortable issues like racism.
“We can’t educate ourselves if we stifle ourselves … if we stifle our teachers,” Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, D-Des Moines, said during legislative debate in March.
Reynolds also Tuesday signed into law, without any line-item vetoes:
• The justice systems budget bill, House File 861, which includes an additional $21 million for the state’s prison system, including $3 million for salaries at the Anamosa State Penitentiary. Two prison workers were killed March 23 in an attack by inmates attempting to escape the Anamosa facility, authorities said. For a public union representing state prison workers, the killings served as grim confirmation of what it had been saying for months — that staffing levels at state prisons had been allowed to dip too low, giving inmates too much leverage. Lawmakers agreed to a budget increase, but not as much of one as the union and Democrats sought. During a WHO-AM radio appearance Tuesday, Reynolds said that the prisons have “unfilled positions so it will help them get to where they need to be to make sure that we’re adequately staffed.”
• The judicial branch budget, House File 864.
• The public education budget, House File 868.
• The state transportation budget, Senate File 592.
• The economic and workforce development budgets, House File 871.
• House File 384, which allows alcohol sales to start at 6 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. on Sundays.
• House File 522], a bill allowing anaerobic digesters, rather than open-air manure pits, at animal feeding operations. Anaerobic digesters, which have been used at wastewater treatment plants for decades, can convert manure and food waste into methane, which then can be changed into electricity and heat. The leftover digestate, which doesn't smell like manure, can be applied to farm fields.