My New Year wishes for all of you is health, safety, and joy in 2021.
We start the New Year with the continued threat of death and long-term effects of COVID-19. We ended 2020 held captive by the worldwide pandemic. Over 4065 Iowans have died from the virus in just 9.5 months. For each of those individuals who died, family members, friends, and communities grieve and I grieve with them.
We start the New Year better informed on the consequences of racism and with new determination to root out the remaining injustices of the original evil of our nation. Last year we witnessed George Floyd get killed with the knee of a bad police officer on his neck while other bad officers knelt on his back. The deaths of unarmed Black men in the past by bad police combined with Floyd’s death to set off protests around the world and in Iowa by African Americans, other peoples of color, and white people. Many of us are again woke to the persisting oppression of African American citizens rooted in four centuries of enslavement and injustice.
We start the New Year with hope for our Democracy and with patriotism. In 2020, we had one of the most contentious general elections for President I have lived through. Our current President continues to claim he won in a landslide and that the other party cheated the vote, though the numbers dispute him. From my vantage, the processes of the 2020 election were very closely watched. Any cheating and fraud were detected and dealt with. The final popular vote for President-Elect Biden and VP-Elect Harris was 81,281,888 (51.38%) and for President Trump and VP Pence were 74,223,251 (46.91%), a difference of 7,058,637 votes. The Electoral votes were for Biden 306 and for Trump 232. The 2020 Presidential election was fair and final.
This week some Americans supporting President Trump’s claim the election was stolen from him took to violence. They stormed the U.S. Capitol through broken windows and battered down doors. They terrified our elected representatives and interrupted a Constitutional process to certify state votes for President. The January 6, 2021 attack is the first time U.S. Capitol has been mobbed since 1814 when British Troops attacked and burned the Capitol down.
Trump supporters have every right to protest peacefully. But they chose to use violence, storm the Capitol, battle physically with Capitol Police, destroy property, ransack Congressional offices, and steal Federal and personal property from Congressional offices and the Senate chamber. Turning to violence is not the American way of reacting to an election one disagrees with.
The quote above by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. resonates with me at times like this. The COVID pandemic will pass with vaccines developed by our amazing scientists. We will keep working toward a more perfect union where ALL women and men enjoy the freedoms and opportunities promised by our founders in the U.S. Constitution. Our government will persist while we vote and peacefully demand that it work for the greater common good of the people.
2021 Session: We return to the Capitol for the 2021 Session on Monday. I am appointed to the Human Resources, Public Safety, and Environmental Protection Committees. I am also the Ranking Member of the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, which means I am the highest-ranking House minority member on the subcommittee.
I am very concerned about COVID at the Capitol. With members and clerks coming from all over the state, the Legislature is likely to become a super-spreader. The Republican majority issued weak COVID mitigation policies for the House. Masks and face shields will be voluntary for Republicans and their staff. Our Democratic Leader makes masks mandatory for us and staff.
Committee meetings are moved to larger rooms where we can physically distance. Meetings will be broadcast on Zoom, but we aren’t allowed to participate or vote unless we are physically present. And there will be little room for the public to observe committee discussions and determinations. Subcommittee meetings are the only opportunity the general public has to make comments on a bill in person. This year, the public is only allowed to comment in writing.
Survey: Please complete the survey below to help me know your priorities for the 2021 Session.
This Newsletter: Democratic house members have migrated to Mailchimp to publish our newsletters. For reasons I don’t understand, my distribution list was reduced by 2/3. Please let neighbors and friends know they need to re-subscribe to receive the newsletter this year. For some reason, your email was retained in my Mailchimp account, so you don’t need to do anything to continue receiving my updates. Thank you so much for your interest in Statehouse news
Pictures and Comics: With the isolation of COVID-19 I don’t have many pictures to share with you, so I will share some comics that make me smile and think.