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I get it. I get it. Selling more E-15 gasoline is better for the ethanol industry. And, the theory goes, it is, therefore, better for Iowa.

But what precedent is being set? What message are Republicans — REPUBLICANS — sending? You know, the “limited government, free-market loving” politicians…

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I will tell you what message they’re sending by passing a bill like the one the Iowa House passed last week, which requires gas stations to sell E-15 fuel — the wrong one.

Are Republicans opposed to the government picking winners and losers? Or are Iowa Republicans now supportive of picking when the government picks winners and losers?

By the way, when the government gets in the business of picking winners and losers with Republicans in control, we’re all losers.

We’re all losers because we — Republicans — have at that point lost our principles. We’ve traded them in. Worse, we’ve abandoned them.

Consider the fact that ObamaCare has long been a thorn in the side for Republicans because it is the government forcing a consumer to buy a product. Yet now, some Republicans in Iowa are rallying around the idea of the government forcing a business to sell a specific product.

And at what cost? The cost of the Iowa GOP’s supposed limited government, free-market principles.

Do we trust Iowans to do the right thing or don’t we? If we do, then doesn’t that mean we trust that Iowans will support their fellow Iowans and buy the gasoline that is best for their individual needs first and, then, best for Iowa second?

Why is the government forcing, nudging, incentivizing — whatever you want to call it — people to offer a certain kind of gasoline?

What other product does the state government force — FORCE — a private business to sell? 

Never mind for months last year we were told that Republicans do not believe in restricting private business. Many of these same Iowa House Republicans said they couldn’t provide an outright ban on employer vaccine mandates because, after all, what kind of limited government, free-market Republicans would they be if they sided with individual rights over private business rights?

Yet here we are. Just a few weeks into the 2022 legislative session and Iowa House Republicans are interfering in the private enterprise — forcing Iowa gas stations to offer a certain product whether they want to or not.

There were private business owners asking Iowa lawmakers to please not pass this bill. But they did it anyway. They took this chance to flex their legislative muscles over private businesses and decided to intervene in the private enterprise.

Or at least the Iowa House did. Keep in mind the Iowa House passed the legislation without 51 Republican votes. The Iowa House leadership gave the bill the green light despite needing Democrat votes to get it across the finish line.

And, make no mistake, both Democrat Rep. Mary Wolfe and Republican Rep. Lee Hein admitted the bill is a mandate. A government mandate on private business.

Again, this isn’t a debate on whether selling more ethanol fuel is good or bad for Iowa. This is a debate on when we should sacrifice our principles. There is nothing conservative about this legislation. One cannot make a serious conservative argument for the bill.

It can’t be done.

And while the Iowa House may have buckled under pressure to various political leaders who viewed this as a legislative priority, it still has to pass the Iowa Senate, which is by far the more conservative chamber of the Iowa legislature.

Based on a number of newsletters sent by Iowa Senate Republicans, it seems they are at least willing to receive feedback from constituents on the issue. You can find a list of all 50 state senators here. You can find your specific legislators here by submitting your address.

We encourage you to reach out to your elected Iowa Senator and let them know how you feel about state government forcing private businesses to sell a certain product.

Sure, this time it is ethanol, but what might it be next time? And, regardless of what it is next time, who would we be to judge if we allow it this time?

If the government can force individuals to buy certain products (ObamaCare) and force private businesses to sell certain products (Ethanol Mandate Bill), then we’re in a really bad spot.

And we’re in this really bad spot under Republican — REPUBLICAN — control.

That shouldn’t happen. It’s inexcusable. Our principles — limited government, free-market — should matter more than that.

In some places, they obviously don’t. We’ll soon find out if they do in the Iowa Senate.

Author: Jacob Hall

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