The Legislature is officially back in session after an extensive delay due to COVID-19. Today I would like to talk about two major issues, but first a comment on the state budget. The budget is going to be one of the big unknowns as we complete our business in Des Moines. We still don’t fully know the impact COVID-19 will have on revenue. The state made a commitment to our public schools before we adjourned. That money has been budgeted and schools have already made extensive plans. I will not support breaking that promise.
One really exciting item: For the first time ever, my “EMS as an Essential Service” bill has passed the Iowa House. I offered the amendment to make EMS an essential service last week and it passed the House 94-1. I worked to make sure this issue was not partisan and both parties showed their strong support for my bill. This has long been my top priority and it is now up to the Senate to send it down to the governor’s office.
I have promised you that this would be more than words to me and now the action has finally followed after hours and hours of negotiation. A lot of people aren’t aware that EMS isn’t an essential service. In code, fire and police “shall” be funded by municipalities but EMS “may.” This means EMS gets the last bite of the budget apple and are consistently underfunded. If we do not do something, someone is going to dial 911 and no one will be there to respond to the call. Our ambulance workers had our back during COVID-19 and have our backs every day when we are in trouble. It is time the Iowa Legislature stepped up and had their back.
I would also like to address the protests in Iowa City since this is getting very close to home. I want to make it clear that I support everyone’s First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom to assemble. I support protesting and dissent. These are uniquely American traits and what our country was founded on.
I also believe your constitutional rights do not include harming others and impeding on other people’s constitutional rights. Earlier this week, a mob vandalized the University of Iowa hospital, Kinnick Stadium, and the Old Capitol. I had nurses who were contacting me afraid to go to their job because of the “protests” and violence. Can you imagine being a child with cancer staring out your window and watching a mob vandalize the building and scaring the people who are trying to help you? Near the Old Capitol, I have photo proof of graffiti that says “I will beat you when I see you” and “death to police.” That isn’t protesting. It is criminal behavior and anyone engaging in it needs arrested. Some of the damage to the Old Capitol may be permanent.
I want to be clear that what happened in Minneapolis was absolutely murder and those officers need swift and harsh punishment. Period. Reacting to that tragedy by threatening others and destroying property isn’t honoring anything — it is a criminal act. I know I will be bombarded with harsh criticism and partisan attacks by saying this, but I am your elected representative. I will stand strong against horrific acts like the Minneapolis murder, against criminal behavior disguised as protests, and for finding solutions so that the tragedy in Minneapolis will lead to meaningful reform for ALL Americans. The House majority is working with one of the leaders of the African American caucus in the house … a friend of mine, and I am strongly advocating for the House to act on some social justice reform this week. I will discuss this in my next column.
Contact Representative Kaufmann:
Mail: 1527 330th Street, Wilton IA 52778