Opinion | Iowa legislators are wasting precious time

State legislators should work on behalf of Iowans rather than engaging in culture wars.


Grace Smith

The Iowa State Capitol is seen before the opening of the 2022 Legislative Session in Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022.

Sophia Meador, Opinions Editor

I hate politics more than ever before.

Ironically, I’m a political science major. I chose to study political science so I could make informed decisions about my life and my community. But living in Iowa has only reinforced my negative outlook on politics.

As a registered Independent and journalist, I always try to judge politics from an objective viewpoint. Throughout my two years working at The Daily Iowan, I have written columns that criticized both Republicans and Democrats. I believe we should judge politicians based on their actions, not their political affiliations.

That said, I’m disappointed by the actions of Iowa Republicans during this legislative session. Rather than address general welfare issues, Republicans made the Iowa Legislature a culture war.

By the powers granted in the U.S. Constitution, state governments have the responsibility to ensure the health, safety, morals, and general welfare of the public. During the current legislative session, the Republican-led legislature has failed to address general welfare issues in Iowa and are playing political stunt games.

More than 1,000 bills have been introduced in this year’s legislative session. Many bills made headlines for pushing back against LGBTQ+ rights, such as proposals to ban gender-affirming care, allowing teachers to reject students’ pronouns, and banning children from attending drag shows.

Some of these far-right bills are still alive, and others are not after the funnel week.

For weeks, I saw graphics circulating on social media urgently warning users about a bill that would ban gay marriage in Iowa and encouraging viewers to sign a petition against this bill. The bill, House File 508, was sponsored by eight Republican representatives. Gay marriage is federally protected under the Respect for Marriage Act. Even if this law was passed in Iowa, it would have been struck down in court.

Republican efforts like this are a waste of time, and Democrats are just as guilty for using their platform to enrage the electorate against bills with no substance.

In my political science courses, we learn about issues such as poverty, criminal justice, environmental policy, and economics. We discuss topics such as inequality, equity, and bias. The things we’re assigned to think critically about are not issues related to culture wars. They are actual issues that are affecting the daily lives of Americans.

I’d love to see our legislators work together to address hunger — which 7.3 percent of Iowans experience each day — or ways to reduce poverty in the state, which 11 percent of Iowa residents face.

Instead, bills like Senate File 303, which would have provided all public school students with free breakfast and lunch, died in the legislature before it made it to a debate. That’s what our legislators should be working toward.

There’s no point in engaging in culture wars where no one wins. This is not the purpose of politics.

I’m not writing this column to upset Republicans or on behalf of the Democrats. I am writing because I see that politicians in the state legislature are failing to do their jobs and instead are engaging in culture wars. There are real issues that are affecting the lives of Iowans each day.

I’m tired of seeing Iowa continually make national headlines for radical legislation. Iowa should not be the laughingstock of the country. Frankly, it’s embarrassing.

Iowa has the resources to be one of the best states in the country for families to live and grow. As leaders in agriculture and education, I see so much potential in Iowa. But it feels like we’re wasting our potential on culture wars rather than actual progress.

Our legislators need to do better, and it’s our job as constituents to demand more.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.