I read Iowa House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl’s legislative newsletter with interest this week. Windschitl discussed at length efforts to protect Iowans and their medical information in regards to COVID-19. He blamed people unwilling to “compromise” for the inability to pass something on the floor of the Iowa House.
This isn’t a new debate — the so-called all-or-nothing crowd against those pragmatic politicians. And who is right and who is wrong probably depends on who you ask.
But let’s be clear — very, very, very, very…very — clear about something…the individuals who truly care about the issue of Medical Freedom & Privacy did compromise. A lot. What started out as “gold standard” legislation regarding medical freedom and privacy ended up being just a teenie, tiny sliver of what was promised to Iowans.
From a 30,000-foot view, it started as legislation that would prohibit people from asking others about their vaccination status. Period. On any vaccine.
That is an overly simplistic explanation. There are far more additional details, but that was essentially the summary of the legislation in one sentence.
And after going through subcommittee and committee, that was the understanding provided to Iowans.
I was always skeptical the votes were there for legislation like this both in committee and in the House. But after some reluctant yes votes from committee members, the bill surprisingly passed along party lines.
Then the bill died on the floor of the Iowa House without a public vote ever being cast. Did legislators vote yes in committee with the understanding the bill would not receive a floor vote? That’s a question only they can answer.
The “gold standard” legislation that would protect Iowans for years to come quickly became watered down. And it included a few exceptions. And it was COVID specific.
This disappointed those who supported the bill the most. And I think it is important to point something out at this point…
Last spring something was done to address COVID vaccine passports, but it wasn’t enough. No protections were provided to employees. Instead, Iowans were told to trust the “free market” would take care of it. The bill was passed with compromise.
During special session, a bill was passed to expand religious and medical exemptions to the COVID injection in Iowa. But again, it didn’t provide protections against discrimination. The bill was passed with compromise.
There’s a saying in politics…let me see if I can find it…
OK. So that’s not exactly the saying…
Nonetheless, Iowans have been forced to compromise plenty in exchange for medical freedom and privacy. They did it once, and it didn’t work. They did it a second time, and it didn’t work.
Asking them to do it a third time after more than two years of living in what we have experienced seems to be unreasonable. Nobody can deny the problems the original Medical Freedom & Privacy Bill strived to address.
Yet we were told by Iowa House leadership the bill “didn’t have the votes.”
“After the bill cleared committee, it became clear that changes had to be made (compromises) in order to gain support in the House and Senate,” Windschitl wrote.
This is similar to what Iowans were told when the vaccine passport bill didn’t go far enough. This is similar to what Iowans were told when the exemptions bill didn’t go far enough.
So you have to ask yourself, why do Iowans keep getting told the same thing? Perhaps it is become legislators keep doing the same thing.
I like Matt Windschitl, by the way. So I hope this isn’t taken as some sort of personal attack. But it is worth pointing this portion of his newsletter out:
“Honest and transparent are two things I will always be while having the privilege to represent you here in Des Moines, and I hope you find this newsletter insightful and truthful, knowing that I will always be straightforward with my constituents.”
Great words. But let’s really dig in a little further when it comes to action.
The votes weren’t there for the Medical Freedom & Privacy Bill. That’s what we are told. But what we’re not told — because there was no public vote taken — is who was against the bill. Nope. Those people were protected. Those people who refused to defend Iowans’ medical freedom and privacy were granted legislative privacy with regard to their policy views by leadership.
So honesty and transparency is lacking in the Iowa House. That isn’t to say the same thing doesn’t happen in the Senate, or in other states, or in Washington D.C. But here’s an idea, instead of comparing ourselves to other flawed institutions, maybe let’s try to be better.
Full honesty and full transparency would have meant giving the original Medical Freedom & Privacy Bill a vote on the floor of the Iowa House. That vote would have been more insightful and truthful than any newsletter ever would be.
Then Iowans will know just which Republicans are for them and which are against them. Instead, those who are against them and against the original Medical Freedom & Privacy Bill were afforded secrecy and protection while Iowans are still waiting for the same protections they’ve been asking for over the last 18 months.
Windschitl was critical of those who didn’t back the watered-down proposal, which also included the completely unrelated issue of trucker tort reform, on the floor.
“There were still those who felt that it didn’t go far enough and were displeased with the procedural maneuvers employed to keep the proposal alive,” he wrote. “As a result of this no-compromise, all-or-nothing attitude, the proposal failed to pass on the House floor. This saddens me greatly as I believe Iowans deserve the protections encompassed in the proposal. Compromise is not a dirty word, but instead how things get done.”
Where is the blunt criticism for those House members who refused to support the original Medical Freedom & Privacy Bill? They are the ones who worked against Iowans and against the principles of the Republican Party.
Let’s start bringing bills to the floor for a vote whether they’ll pass or not so Iowans truly know where their legislators stand. Let’s really implement actual honesty and transparency in the process. Full honesty. Full transparency.
Nevermind whether medical freedom and privacy is something you believe should come with compromise. That’s an individual decision. But to suggest Iowans and Iowa lawmakers concerned about medical freedom and privacy haven’t accepted compromise the last two years is disingenuous at best.
By the way, for what it is worth, compromise is a much easier pill to swallow when we know why we’re having to compromise. We’re told the votes weren’t there. But show us, don’t tell us. Let us know why the votes aren’t there. Who the holdouts are.
Then perhaps we’d be more willing to accept such compromise.
After all, compromise should be a two-way street, right?