One of the things The Iowa Standard asked Rep. Steve Holt (R-Denison) about when we talked on Monday’s Eye on Iowa podcast was how much consideration legislators had given to the section of Iowa Code that provides the governor emergency powers.
“In my six years in the legislature, we’ve been very busy,” he said.
He noted the importance of a bill in 2017 that prohibited the governor from infringing on Second Amendment rights during a time of emergency.
“I think that’s been huge during this emergency,” Holt said. “And, of course, we have a governor that respects the Second Amendment, so she actually took measures to make sure that permits wouldn’t expire, that people could continue to get their permits to carry.”
In his six years, Holt said nobody has really looked at that section of code and thought whether restrictions should be put in place.
“Now I think we have the perspective of seeing where we have an emergency that’s gone for, I think we’re entering our fifth or sixth week now, and should there be restrictions on the executive branch’s authority in cases like this such as after two weeks of certain emergency measures put in place, should they require legislative approval to continue after a certain timeframe?
“I think these are things we are really going to have to look at. Our governor has worked very hard to try to respect constitutional rights, but I also think it’s true, I think it’s questionable that a number of things that have been put in place, whether they are constitutional or not, when we talk about the restrictions on assembly and restrictions on movement, restrictions to go out and have a job and restrictions on being able to go to church — sometimes we’ve got to be careful that the cure is not worse than the disease. As those who love freedom and liberty, I think we have to take a hard look at whether there should be some restrictions on the executive branch going forward.”
It’s been a struggle throughout the situation, Holt said.
“As a 20-year Marine and as an elected representative, I want to be a team player and I want to support our leadership in terms of the emergency as most Iowans do,” Holt said. “When we start talking about our freedoms and our liberties being restricted, I think we need to bristle at that and we need to look at that with skepticism frankly. That’s where I have arrived at.”
While citizens should trust the government to do its job in a way that preserves the best interest of those they serve, the government should also trust the citizens to be able to take care of themselves.
“I often talk about the fact that you know, folks on the other side of the political spectrum, liberals and the far left and the progressives, think we’re too stupid to make our own decisions and that government has to make (them) for us,” Holt said. “So it becomes very difficult for me in a situation like this to condone or accept leaders in my own party being willing to not accept that philosophy.”
Holt made clear his words are not reflective of what Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has done, but what he has seen happening across the country.
“I do understand and I continue to understand that our governor is agonizing over these decisions and I think she’s making these decisions based on what she believes is in the best interest of our public health, “Holt said. “But again, I think we just have to have a conversation as citizens about whether we think this is appropriate or not and whether this has gone too far.”