State lawmakers returned to the Iowa Capitol today. Education, taxation, safety are the top priorities for 2021 Iowa legislature. And they were joined inside by more than 200 anti-mask protestors.
Few of the protesters wore face coverings as packed into the Iowa Capitol rotunda today and then into the Senate and House chamber galleries. They were protesting mask-wearing and other public health measures designed to slow the spread of the new coronavirus and the COVID-19 pandemic. Iowa’s current public health orders require people to wear masks in public when inside and around others for more than 15 minutes. But Republican legislative leaders decided against requiring visitors to the Capitol to wear face masks.
Iowa today has 511 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 further deaths. The state has had nearly 300,000 cases of the coronavirus since it appeared in Iowa in March. There have been more than 4100 deaths. In Woodbury County, there have been 27 new cases added to the total case count in the last 24 hours.
Opening day speeches at the Iowa legislature are typically congenial, with bipartisan cooperation as a common theme. That was not the case today. House Democratic Leader Todd Prichard of Charles City said as a 25-year Army veteran, he was outraged by what happened in the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday. Prichard said Iowa lawmakers cannot “turn a blind eye” to what caused last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol. In his first speech on the House floor this year, Prichard said when Governor Kim Reyolds defends those who question the legitimacy of our elections, a crack develops in the pillar of truth.