'This Is About Freedom': Iowa Celebrates as Governor Bans Mask Mandates in Schools, Cities and Counties
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa signed legislation Thursday banning the implementation of mask mandates in public schools, cities and counties across the state.
House File 847 bans school districts statewide from imposing mandates for students, faculty and staff, the Des Moines Register reported.
HF 847 additionally prevents local lawmakers from imposing mask mandates that are “more stringent than a policy imposed by the state.”
Iowa’s brief statewide mask mandate ended in February.
The Iowa House passed the bill Wednesday along party lines in a 53-35 vote. In the Iowa Senate, the bill passed 29-17, also along party lines.
BREAKING: Iowa Legislature just banned mask mandates—forever.
— Tim Swain (@SwainForSenate) May 20, 2021
After initially signaling she would support the bill, Reynolds later enthusiastically signed HF 847 into law early Thursday morning.
“The state of Iowa is putting parents back in control of their child’s education and taking greater steps to protect the rights of all Iowans to make their own health care decisions,” Reynolds said in a statement to the Register.
“I am proud to be a governor of a state that values personal responsibility and individual liberties. I want to thank the Iowa Legislature for their quick work in bringing this bill to my desk so that it can be signed into law.”
Just hand delivered HF847 to @KimReynoldsIA desk. Parents, now you get to make the choice on whether your kids will wear a mask or not. #ialegis pic.twitter.com/6FUFn2JE6q
— Speaker Pat Grassley (@PatGrassley) May 20, 2021
Reynolds took to Twitter to celebrate signing the bill into law, touting HF 847 as a win for individual liberty and personal choice.
“We are putting parents back in control of their child’s education and taking greater steps to protect the rights of all Iowans to make their own health care decisions,” Reynolds tweeted.
We are putting parents back in control of their child’s education and taking greater steps to protect the rights of all Iowans to make their own health care decisions. https://t.co/MvRglUbKg1
— Kim Reynolds (@KimReynoldsIA) May 20, 2021
One lawmaker told the Register that the banning of mask mandates is a result of lawmakers listening to their constituents.
“This amendment comes from the citizens of Iowa,” GOP state Rep. Dustin Hite of New Sharon said. “They come from my constituents, from your constituents — I’ve lost count of the number of emails, the number of messages, all of that that I have received on the topic.”
Meanwhile, Republican state Rep. Steven Holt of Denison said the new law “is about freedom.”
“This is about freedom. This is about liberty,” Holt said. “In my district alone, numerous parents have had enough.”
One vocal Democrat in the state House was less than pleased by the new law.
“We don’t know what’s coming down the road,” Democratic Rep. Christina Bohannan of Iowa City said. “And we shouldn’t tie the hands of local governments and school boards in responding to any kinds of future illnesses or threats.”
Immediately after the law was signed and went into effect, two of Iowa’s largest school districts announced they would end their mask mandates.
The Des Moines Public School District and the West Des Moines School District both sent parents messages explaining that children could still wear masks voluntarily, but would not be required to do so, KCCI-TV reported.
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