Hundreds of Iowans gathered at the Iowa Capitol on the first day of the legislative session in 2021.
Concerns over the emergency powers granted to the Iowa governor.
There were literally hundreds of Iowans who showed up during a weekday to express their desire to see legislators work on this issue. Here’s some proof:
A number of conservative lawmakers made it clear that something needed to be done regarding the governor’s broad emergency powers prior to the session starting.
But days and weeks passed without any bills addressing the issue being filed.
The Iowa Standard was asked about this issue more than any other issue during the first seven weeks of the legislative session or so.
And, what exactly happened to a bill intended to harness the governor’s powers is not exactly known.
It is important to note that, while Gov. Reynolds wasn’t perfect through COVID, she was pretty solid compared to the other governors across America.
That said, other governors across America are not the standard when it comes to Iowans’ liberties and rights.
So while Iowans had one of the best governors in the country overseeing their state during the COVID pandemic, they were not blind to what was happening almost all around them.
California. Michigan. New York. And the list went on and on and on.
Americans now see how emergency powers may be handled by politicians given the opportunity. And it is not pretty.
Republican State Rep. Jeff Shipley wrote about this issue in his latest newsletter. If you haven’t read it, check it out here.
Shipley said Iowans and lawmakers found out “the hard way” there are few parameters or checks against the governor’s office during a declared emergency in Iowa Code.
He said there were “many rigorous meetings and in-depth conversations” with colleagues as they arrived at a bill draft outlining specific protections for the rights and liberties of Iowans.
“We wanted to improve the laws relating to health emergencies,” Shipley wrote. “Or at the very least, offer a starting point for this very important conversation.”
Shipley said he submitted bill drafts to the House clerk’s office during the second week of February.
“Normally within 24 hours of submitting a bill draft to the clerk, it’s officially ‘read in’ and introduced to the House,” he wrote. “Sadly, and quite unfortunate in my estimation, the Speaker of the House elected not to introduce these bills.”
Shipley essentially said he went through the process of filing a bill but it wasn’t allowed to be filed, as if Speaker Pat Grassley vetoed another legislator’s bill.
The Iowa Standard had asked the Speaker’s office about this issue more than one week ago.
We were told that Grassley is “not convinced” now is the time to examine the governor’s emergency powers.
“We’re in a pandemic,” he said. “Hopefully we’re approaching the light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine going out. But I think for us to make these calls while we’re still going through this, I’m not convinced is the appropriate time.”
We asked if the Speaker did not allow a bill addressing these powers to be filed and were told that was not the case.
However, Shipley’s newsletter seems to say the exact opposite.
There is no need to get into second-guessing Gov. Reynolds when it comes to her handling of COVID. It cannot be overstated that her actions specifically are not the reason — NOT THE REASON — Iowa lawmakers must take a look at the governor’s emergency powers.
Gavin Newsom is one reason. Andrew Cuomo is another. Gretchen Whitmer is another.
You can read Shipley’s full bill as proposed here.
Shipley said he was “a bit frustrated, even angry, being stymied from introducing legislation on the topics most essential to human liberty.”
“But I also do my best to understand and comprehend complex political calculations and a long-term strategy,” he said. “Some conversations are incredibly difficult, and it’s simply more politically convenient not to have them.”