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We are completing our second week of session and on Thursday we adopted House Rules that will not require a mask to be worn in the Capitol or House Chamber.  It is difficult to come to work each day knowing that every time I enter the capitol, I run the risk of being exposed to COVID. There are House and Senate members who refuse to wear a mask.  We also see members of the lobby and the public who refuse to protect themselves or others.  As a result of this indifference, I am trying to stay away from the Capitol as much as possible.  I am working from my apartment in Des Moines and only coming to the capitol for required sub-committees, committees, floor debate and votes.  I feel much safer away from my workplace. Other members have chosen to stay away completely.  They can observe our subcommittees and committees but they cannot participate and they are not allowed to vote.  It is unfortunate that the majority party is denying our own members the opportunity to participate in the democratic process safely. I hope no member or their family members contract COVID, get sick or die but I know with every day that goes by it is a possibility.

On Thursday, the AFL-CIO filed an OSHA violation against the Republican Leadership in the House and Senate. The OSHA complaint, which is based on both Federal and State Law, states that each worker in the Iowa State Capitol building must be furnished with a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.  I applaud the AFL-CIO for their efforts to make the State Capitol safe for all who enter.   It is unfortunate that this is what it takes in order for the Republican Leadership to do the right thing.  Stay tuned for the outcome of this complaint.

Author: Mary Mascher