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Late into the night on May 19 Republicans finally succeeded in passing legislation to allow freedom to reign in the schools, cities, and counties by removing unconstitutional mask mandates. Cheers, smiles, and tears of joy were visible all around as Governor Kim Reynolds signed the legislation into law. The following morning social media was filled with parents celebrating that their children could go to school with visible smiling faces!

No doubt, this is a major win for the Republican trifecta, the state of Iowa, and particularly the children of Iowa. But there are two major questions to be answered here. Why did it take so long?  What happened the next day?

Since last summer mask mandates have been a “thing” in Iowa and since the end of August 2020 only muzzled children were deemed acceptable to the school (unless a child has an exemption, which they are then isolated and treated as an “unclean” individual, see TIS stories on the six-year-old girl in the Ankeny School District). The Iowa legislature’s 2021 session began the second week in January, where Representative Jeff Shipley (R-Fairfield) filed an amendment against mask mandates. Why did it take almost five months for the legislature to address this issue? The evidence of harm, specifically to children, was being talked about daily by parents.

As already stated, this bill was ultimately a good thing, but waiting until after the CDC gave its “OK,” the Biden Administration gave its “OK,” and, at most,  the kids only had two weeks of school left. While a lot of Republicans are praising the legislature and specifically Governor Reynolds for this “bold” move for freedom, remember that a bold move would have been at the beginning of the legislative session, before the higher powers that be decided to give back freedoms, before school was over and the damage to Iowa children was done.

It has been said by many in the conservative camp that the unmasking bill was simply done to score political points as many conservatives are very angry with both certain actions and lack of action from this year’s legislative session.

This thinking has more weight considering that less than 24 hours after “giving” Iowans back their freedom to show their faces, Governor Reynolds signed into law the “ban on vaccine passports,” which actually codifies discrimination based on medical history for healthcare facilities and employers. Already individuals are being notified that their jobs are on the line if they don’t receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and healthcare facilities are asking on patient forms.

As Governor Reynolds said on her social media after signing the unmasking bill, “The state of Iowa is…taking greater steps to protect the rights of all Iowans to make their own health care decisions.”

Except when it comes to keeping your job or utilizing a healthcare facility. This is not freedom and this is not protecting the citizens of Iowa.

Give Iowans crumbs at the last second to gain praise and hope no one sees what happens next. It’s the classic bait and switch and honestly, it is no longer surprising, but a continued disappointment. However, I am not sure what is more disappointing: the fact that the Republican trifecta continues in this manner or that voters continue to fall for these mirages.

Author: Kelsey Kennedy

Kelsey Kennedy is a wife and a mother. She's writing under a pseudonym.