New House Democrat Leader Jennifer Konfrst told reporters earlier this month she believes the legislation approved by the Republican-led Iowa House was extreme. She said, “The extreme party is on the other side.” Her plan is to spread the word to Iowans that Republicans are the real extremists and House Democrats were unfairly and incorrectly tagged as out of touch and/or extreme. Konfrst said, “And so there was really a disconnect between what happened in the Statehouse and what Iowans were looking for this session.”
What does Rep. Konfrst label as extreme and where did she see that disconnect?
Parents and students across the state made it crystal clear that they wanted the option of returning to 100% in-person classroom learning immediately. House Republicans responded. Three weeks into the 2021 session Governor Reynolds signed the bill requiring all school districts to offer parents and students a 100% in-person classroom option. The bill didn’t stop districts from offering an at-home option for parents and students who remained fearful of a return to the school building, but it provided those who wanted a return to normal the option of doing just that. Rep. Konfrst voted against that bill.
An additional fact became apparent to moms and dads across the state – they didn’t have nearly the input they believed they had in regards to their child’s education. House Republicans responded. A state law that prevented students in five school districts from open-enrolling out of their home district due to their skin color was eliminated. Many parents seeking a district where students were physically going to school sought to open enroll into those districts. But they were disturbed to learn that in certain school districts, district leaders could deny that move simply due to the skin color of the student so they could maintain a certain minority to non-minority student ratio. Parents and students now have more control of where they attend school and school district leadership is forced to listen to these parents and students as the decision-making authority has shifted to families. Rep. Konfrst voted against that bill.
Election security and ballot integrity was top of mind for many Iowans in the wake of the 2020 election. Once again, House Republicans responded. Simple voter identification requirements assigned to in-person voting were extended to absentee voting. Rules regarding ballot drop boxes, early voting days and the legal deadline for absentee ballots were simplified and strengthened. Rep. Konfrst voted against that bill.
Violent rioters didn’t just wreak destruction in Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis and Kenosha, it happened in Des Moines and Iowa City too. Iowans demanded accountability for those who turned peaceful marches and protests into violent riots. House Republicans responded. Millions in additional funding was provided to law enforcement and to the court system. When the choice was between riots and law enforcement, House Republicans allied with law enforcement providing additional protections for officers working to protect Iowans and their property. Iowans simply driving their vehicles who find themselves surrounded and caught in the middle of the violence were extended the legal protection to defend themselves and their families while trying to escape the rioters. Rep. Konfrst voted against these bills.
Woke leftism exists to destroy and tear down, not to unite and build. It is not designed to play down and heal racial differences, but to accentuate and capitalize on them. When Iowans became aware of the true meaning and intent of woke “equity” trainings and curricula in our public universities and K-12 schools, they demanded action. House Republicans responded by passing House File 802 and House File 847. The overwhelming majority of Iowans seek to do the right thing. The challenge is that to do the right thing, we must to be able to think for ourselves, and in order to think for ourselves, we have to be given the tools to do that. Woke leftism embraces Critical Race Theory (CRT). CRT is being infused into employment trainings at our public universities and our K-12 schools. CRT is being weaved into day-to-day K-12 classroom material. What is the problem with Critical Race Theory? It teaches ideas that take away the tools that empower us to think for ourselves. It teaches Iowans, young and old, to segregate ourselves based on race. It teaches, in clear terms, to judge each other based on skin color instead of the content of your character. The bills approved by House Republicans reinforce what the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 have been doing until the arrival of CRT. Parents and students pleaded with House Republicans to take a stand and House Republicans responded. Rep. Konfrst voted against each of those bills.
Telehealth has become a key way for mental health counseling to be delivered to Iowans in small towns and urban and suburban counties. It was in danger of going away post-pandemic and Iowans asked House Republicans for help. House Republicans responded by leading the way on mental health. Not only was the move made to change the funding source for mental health from local property taxes in order to treat all Iowans the same, but telehealth services which so many Iowans have come to depend was approved. Rep. Konfrst voted against that bill.
Finally, Iowans wanted to keep more of their own hard-earned money to reinvest in themselves, their families and their businesses as they bounce back and return to normal after the lockdowns. House Republicans responded. Iowans’ income taxes will go down. The death tax is being phased out. Child tax credits are extended to more parents than ever. Pandemic-related grants to businesses were shielded from taxation. Yet, Rep. Konfrst voted against that bill too.
It is an interesting strategy to label a return to normal “extreme.” But lockdown advocates have always placed their authority to control the decisions of Iowans above Iowans’ own day-to-day freedoms.