Rep. Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) spoke in defense of her bill, which provides a definition of antisemitism in Iowa Code.
“The reason that I offered this legislation because data shows that although Jews only make up 2 percent of the American population, they are among the most likely of all minority groups to be victimized by hate,” Upmeyer said.
She said the frequency and severity of antisemitic incidents are trending upward.
“That was the reason I brought forward this bill, to make a clear definition of what is antisemitism,” she said.
Upmeyer said there are many Jews who are not particularly religious.
“It’s an ethnic group as well and it’s not very clearly defined because there are a lot of blurring things,” she added.
The former Speaker of the House said she was really disappointed that the point of the bill she offered has been completely changed in what was trying to be done.
“And I don’t think that pointing out a problem that we need to address minimizes other problems that need to be addressed,” Upmeyer said. “If there are definitions or things we can clarify, we have civil rights laws, we have hate laws. If there are definitions that can add clarity and specificity to those laws that we currently have, then let’s do that. But we don’t have to stop or not do one thing because that makes us unable to do another thing.”
Upmeyer said she had conversations about what could be done to change the bill to retain definitions, but nobody made it clear what they thought could be done.
“I think we have opportunities to truly be productive without blowing up a bill that I think at least at some point we thought was a good bill, good approach, a good start to things that need to be remedied,” Upmeyer said.