Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill Wednesday night banning mask mandates in schools, numerous sources reported.
The House passed HF 847 by a 53-35 vote and the Senate passed the legislation by a 29-17 vote, the Des Moines Register reported. The law, which goes into effect immediately, was passed after school districts throughout the state were discussing whether to continue mask mandates or end them, according to KCCI.
Overnight, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new bill banning mask mandates in schools and cities. The move has Iowa school districts scrambling to react Thursday morning: https://t.co/lbDIx9lEow pic.twitter.com/djDZNUNeaF
— KCCI News (@KCCINews) May 20, 2021
“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 release, according to KCCI.
“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.”
The amendment, which was part of a larger education bill including an expansion of open enrollment, will prevent public school superintendents, principals and school board members from requiring students and employees to wear masks, KCCI reported.
City and county leaders will also be barred from implementing stricter mask policies than the state’s policies for private businesses, according to KCCI.
House Republicans said the amendment is a result of Iowa constituents who want to make their own decisions about whether they or their children should wear masks.
“This is about freedom,” Rep. Steven Holt said, according to KCCI “This is about liberty. In my district alone, numerous parents have had enough and now since this began I have received hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of emails.”
Rep. Dustin Hite, also a Republican, also told the Des Moines Register that he received a deluge of messages from Iowans about mask policies.
“This amendment comes from the citizens of Iowa,” Hite 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.”
The Biden administration announced in mid-May that vaccinated people are allowed to forgo masks while indoors in most situations outside of crowded areas, a move that may speed up the reopening of offices and schools. (RELATED: CDC Nixes Masks Indoors In ‘Most’ Situations For Vaccinated People)
Iowa Democrats say the new measure law could harm teachers and children by preventing local governments and school boards from implementing mask mandates if they see fit, Des Moines Register reported.
“We don’t know what’s coming down the road,” said Rep. Christina Bohannan said, according to the Des Moines Register. “And we shouldn’t tie the hands of local governments and school boards in responding to any kinds of future illnesses or threats.”
On Tuesday, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order barring local governments and public schools from mandating facemasks. Any person or government entity not in compliance with the new law is subject to a fine of up to $1,000.