The first session of the 89th General Assembly is scheduled to begin Monday, January 11th and last 110 days. I believe Iowans expect us to get our work done on their behalf, while taking reasonable safety precautions related to the Coronavirus. I have a number of priorities for this session, based upon events and conversations with constituents and public officials. In this newsletter, initiatives to Back the Blue and keep the peace.
In 2020, law enforcement officers nationwide, in a span of only a few weeks, became the focus of relentless attacks. They were unfairly blamed as a group for the actions of a few, and were tasked with the responsibility of trying to protect and serve even as they were physically attacked by mobs and verbally attacked and undermined by politicians quick to play the blame game and embrace what might be the dumbest idea of all time – Defunding the Police. Law enforcement officers were often ordered to stand down in the face of riots and destruction, undermining the rule of law. They were assaulted and insulted, spat upon, blinded by lasers, and targeted for assassination, as some government officials abandoned their solemn responsibility to protect lives and property. Black Lives Matter chanted “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon” at Police and were embraced by the mainstream media, sports figures and celebrities, even as our heroes in Blue were villainized and attacked at every turn. Let us remember that police officers come from a variety of different races and ethnic backgrounds, religions, and beliefs. In short, they look much like the society they are sworn to protect and serve.
While there was far less insanity in Iowa than was seen in other areas, the events in our state and across the nation demonstrated a clear need for change. The message of the peaceful protestors was lost in the wake of rioters who destroyed with seeming impunity. We need stronger penalties and consequences for actions that endanger lives, and new laws in response to the actions of rioters, anarchists, Marxists, and enablers who seek not to build, but to destroy.
- Obstructing Roadways – In several spots in Iowa we saw rioters obstruct roadways, including an interstate. This is extremely dangerous in a myriad of ways; it can cause emergency vehicles to be halted, threatening the lives of the sick and injured; it can cause serious traffic accidents; it can prevent law enforcement and first responders from getting to an emergency; and it is dangerous for those engaged in the rioting and marching on the roadway. Iowa has no law currently on the books for obstructing roadways and law enforcement can only charge Disturbing the Peace, which has a light sentence. I will support legislation to create graduated penalties for obstructing roadways, to include felony penalties when loss of life is involved.
- Assault with a Laser – Two federal officers were blinded by lasers during rioting in Portland. There is no specific code that criminalizes this heinous action, so I will support legislation to create strong penalties for shining lasers in officer’s eyes. There is protective gear available to help protect officer’s eyes from laser attacks, and I will work to ensure that funding is available as needed to procure this and other needed safety equipment.
- Stronger Penalties for Rioters & Enablers – I will work with other legislators to evaluate greater deterrents for those engaged in violent unrest and those who enable them. We must fiercely protect the fundamental right of peaceful protest, but stealing electronics from Wal Mart, attacking innocent people, destroying public and private property, burning cars, setting fires, and terrorizing business owners and families in their homes are not acts of peaceful protest and cannot be tolerated in civilized society. I believe that any attempt by a city or county to defund police for political reasons should result in the halting of state funding to those entities for all but law enforcement services; that a cause of action should be created against cities or counties that refuse to protect lives and property during a time of violent unrest; that felony penalties should be created for anyone who damages historic monuments or destroys public or private property during time of violent unrest; that penalties should be increased for assaulting law enforcement officers; and that anyone convicted of participation in these actions should be denied state assistance for a period of time. These ideas will be discussed and evaluated during the coming session.
Without law and order there can be no peace or justice. Assaulting those sworn to keep the peace and enforce the law, destroying monuments that depict our journey to a more perfect union, and terrorizing innocent people are attacks on the very foundations of our liberty. These actions cannot be tolerated by free men and women and must be met with appropriate actions that will protect the fundamental rights of free speech and peaceful protest, while deterring riots and violent unrest such as we have seen on our streets in 2020.