BWK Statehouse News 2019 #2

This week legislators and staff braved the snow, slipping and sliding our way to Des Moines to start our second week of session in the Iowa House of Representatives. In the second week we’ve been mentoring our freshman legislators, drafting bills, and meeting with constituents bold enough to drive on the snowy roads as well.

Unfortunately this week we discovered that, the positive messages of working together bipartisanly from last week were just words. Republicans announced that they would not call any witnesses in the disenfranchisement of 29 voters in Winneshiek county. They will issue a majority report next week with no regard for the rights of all Iowans to have their votes counted.

This is nothing short of inexcusable.

In my newsletter last week, I urged my Republican colleagues to count the 29 uncounted votes in the House District 55 election that elected a Republican by just 9 votes. The post office has confirmed that the 29 ballots in question were mailed on time, therefore are legal under Iowa code, and should be counted.

This situation is shining a light on a bigger problem in this state. According to the Des Moines Register, “The Iowa Secretary of State’s office has reported that 1,045 ballots were not counted in November statewide due to lack of postmark or barcode or arriving too late. The 29 ballots in question were stamped with a barcode used by the postal service for its internal tracking and a court-ordered scan of those determined the ballots were mailed on time to be valid.”

It is clear House Republicans have no intention to count the votes and it is clear why: they would rather deny 29 Iowans their right to vote if it means protecting a member of their own party. This isn’t democratic. In my opinion, this is a defining moment of where we stand on constitutional rights of each Iowan.

Voters requested an opportunity to testify to the committee, yet House Republicans will not hear them. This isn’t about Democrats vs. Republicans; it’s about counting your votes. If House Republicans can deny these 29 voters their rights this election, they can deny your vote in the next election. House Democrats will continue to fight for the 29 voters of House District 55, and will work to ensure a situation like this doesn’t happen again.  

Despite this unfortunate development, there was some good news this week: a district court judge ruled a bill passed by GOP lawmakers last session to ban abortion as early as 6 weeks was ruled unconstitutional. This ruling gives Iowa women hope that they will be able to make their own personal health decisions without interference from politicians.

While this is great news, we understand the historic battle for women’s rights in front of us today.  We’re going to keep fighting for the rights our mothers and grandmothers fought so hard to get but are at risk again today

As always, please stay in touch with me on issues of concern.

Quote of the week: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” —Martin Luther King Jr.