It’s Time to Focus on State Legislatures

Is your state run by a bunch of men who will control women's access to healthcare but refuse to put on masks? You better find out

The 2020 presidential election is over, and democracy barely eked out of that one alive.

But while Americans pat ourselves on the back because the fifth least-exciting person from the Iowa caucuses became president, it’s time to turn some of our newly found political engagement to our state houses.

All politics are local. Lindsey Graham doesn’t get a say in your kid’s school choice. But you know who does? Chucklefuck Herbert Fitzhugh III, who thinks COVID was invented by the Chinese to prevent him from going to the Pizza Ranch Buffet but somehow helps run your entire state. 

In Iowa we have Pat Grassley. Pat is the Speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives, and is  the grandson of Chuck Grassley. Chuck Grassley is the Iowa senator who you may remember from his recent hits, like “I’ll Abide by the Merrick Garland Rule Except for Amy Coney Barrett, Thus Making Me a Craven Hypocrite.” Or my favorite, “I Won’t Impeach the President Even Though I Voted to Impeach the Other President, Who I Didn’t Like.

In the Iowa legislature, there is no mask mandate. Recently, Pat Grassley stated that he didn’t feel comfortable telling his colleagues to wear masks. Which is interesting because Pat has no trouble pushing to pass constitutional amendments against abortion, which means he has no trouble telling women what to do with their bodies.

Iowa’s elected representatives have no problem with a dress code in the Capitol. But a little flimsy mask, which will save lives? That’s where draws the line.

Iowa has consistently had some of the highest positivity rates of this pandemic. We opened up this summer, then refused to shut down again despite our hospitals being overwhelmed. And despite a very expensive PR campaign, the governor has refused to enforce a mask mandate. Mask wearing is more of a polite suggestion. In sum, in this Iowa, the ruling party decided that we haven’t seen enough death, and one of the first bills it proposed in the legislative session is to bring back the death penalty.

Additionally, the governor is forcing schools back in person, because she insists that kids need to be there. I don’t disagree on that point. But this year, the state is pushing a voucher program that will gut public schools and also deeply entrench racial segregation into our already divided state. Oh yes, and they also want to end tenure. They always want to end tenure.

Oh, and we are going to cut taxes, even though businesses are suffering, people are hungry, and we still don’t have clean water. And then there is the whole issue of misspending CARES Act money on a new computer system and employee salaries. 

It’s like a B list horror movie, except it’s not a murderer rising from the lake, it’s all the bad ideas. 

Seriously, look at the legislation being proposed in your state. It’s like if your uncle were allowed to make laws after drinking a six pack of Busch Light.

What’s happening in your state?

It’s easy to feel helpless and lost in the minutiae of these issues. It’s hard to know who is sponsoring which bills. But your state house is where politics meets the texture of your lives. It’s the sales taxes and the white flight. It’s the self dealing, deadly denialism, and accountability (or lack thereof) that shapes our lives. 

So may I recommend calling your state representative and state senator? They have the time. Or better yet, call the majority (or minority) leader of the party in the Senate. Even if they tell you they don’t know or aren’t involved, they know and they are involved. If you call them enough, well, it means a lot more than all your calls to Lindsey Graham.

UPDATE: If you want to register your opinion on Iowa’s voucher bill, go here!

What I Am Reading: