Iowans are very fortunate to live in one of the safest states in the nation and much of the credit for this goes to our law enforcement officers across the state. Our peace officers work night and day to protect our citizens, keep the peace and enforce our laws. With events that have occurred over the past year, many officers have had their limits tested, and their already difficult job has become even more complicated.
House Republicans have always supported law enforcement, and Iowans echoed that support by rejecting repeated calls to defund the police. Listening to the concerns and needs of everyday Iowans and law enforcement led to the creation of the Back the Blue bill. This bill addresses problems faced by law enforcement officers, business owners and the public. The bill creates and enhances penalties for a variety of crimes, provides better administrative protection for law enforcement, and ensures laws can be enforced across the state.
In order to maintain law and order, Iowans expect that laws can and will be enforced. Unfortunately, some cities have been actively discouraging and even prohibiting law enforcement from enforcing certain laws already on the books. This bill will stop that practice. If a city or county enacts a policy that prohibits the enforcement of laws, they risk the loss of state funding. The bill also reiterates that race, skin color, language spoken, or national origin shall not be considered while enforcing laws.
We have all seen numerous accounts of protesters blocking roadways in an attempt to get their point across. This practice has put countless Iowans in immediate danger, created traffic safety issues, and terrified families caught in these crowds. The bill adds strict penalties for those who illegally block a roadway. The charges range from a serious misdemeanor for blocking a roadway and causing damage, to a class “C” felony for those who block a roadway and cause serious injury or death to another. The bill also protects a driver who is exercising due care but accidentally injures a person who is illegally blocking a roadway. This language will protect drivers and families who inadvertently end up in the middle of a chaotic mob blocking a roadway.
All of us are aware of the violent actions committed by rioters across the nation. Many of these events start out as peaceful protests that spin out of control and turn into rioting and looting, destroying businesses, damaging property, hurting innocent bystanders and law enforcement. These types of behaviors will not be tolerated in Iowa. The bill increases penalties on rioters, those who disturb the peace, damage public and private property, and harass law-abiding Iowans. These increased penalties may not stop those who choose to break the law, but it will ensure they will face the consequences of their actions.
The Back the Blue passed the House this week with bipartisan support, despite the opposition’s attempts to use legislative procedural tactics to undercut some of the main components of the bill. House Republicans fully understand that Iowans are in favor of law and order and support the brave men and women who serve a vital function in our state and put on a uniform every day to protect all of us.
I am proud of my caucus and I am proud to have supported this important piece of legislation. Members of the law enforcement community and law-abiding Iowa families can count on us to support our brave law enforcement officers across our state. They have our back and we have theirs.