February 08, 2021

Iowa Republicans shut out seniors from the political process at the Statehouse

The Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans has been lobbying at the Iowa State Capitol on numerous issues for years. We are seniors, retirees, and advocates for Iowans. Now the Republican-controlled Iowa House of Representatives is making it unsafe for seniors and people with pre-existing conditions to participate and speak out on the many issues and proposed legislation being discussed this legislative session.

Instead of making Iowans’ lives better by passing meaningful legislation that helps lift up families that have been devastated by the coronavirus epidemic, the Iowa GOP is instead focusing on taking funds from public schools, attacking transgender youth, restricting women’s rights, reinstating the death penalty, and keeping the Iowa Capitol building a maskless COVID breeding ground.

This pandemic has killed 4,500-plus Iowans and counting and infected over 316,000 Iowans. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Coronavirus Dashboard, 93% of all COVID deaths are from people over 60, just like our members. It isn’t just the over 30,000 Iowa seniors represented by the Iowa Alliance that the Republicans are forcing to sit on the sidelines, but also the 24% of Iowans who are over 60. Citizens of Iowa shouldn’t have to risk their health and that of their families by entering an Iowa Capitol that is essentially a daily super-spreader event.

At the Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans, we support the Iowa AFL-CIO’s OSHA complaint and efforts to require masks inside of the Iowa State Capitol to ensure the safety of all of those working inside as well as making it safe for Iowa seniors who deserve to be able to be heard on the issues that Republicans are rushing through. Iowa Republicans have essentially canceled seniors’ voices and muzzled us as we are forced to decide between risking our lives at the Capitol or staying home and forfeit providing any input in our democracy. What are the Iowa Republicans hiding?

It is obvious why the Iowa Republicans are making it as dangerous as possible for citizens to attend these meetings to discuss our positions on these issues. The seniors in the Iowa Alliance can’t safely go to lobby. We can not rationalize the risk that the Iowa GOP is putting upon us to lobby in person. It is their plan to limit participation in this legislative session. The Iowa GOP doesn’t want to hear from grandmas, grandpas, and everyone who is at high risk or concerned about contracting the coronavirus at the Capitol. It is easier for them to pass their radical agenda this way.

Remember the way they treated us. Remember the way they kept us from participating in democracy. Remember when election time comes that not one Republican stood up for us. Keep calling, keep emailing, and keep writing letters about your frustrations with the trifecta of dysfunction that has taken our beautiful state hostage.

The writers are officers with the Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans: Mike McCarthy, president; Kay Pence, vice president; Jan Corderman, secretary; Ken Sagar, treasurer.

The Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans is a statewide network of organizations that educate and inform our membership, the public, and elected officials about issues that affect the well-being of retirees and senior citizens, so that we may all work towards advancing and achieving just and equitable living conditions for retirees and senior citizens within the state and the nation. Its purpose is threefold; to educate, motivate, and activate.

This piece was originally published in the Des Moines Register on February 02, 2021.

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