During this pandemic, one important thing we as leaders in the Iowa House can do is provide an example for our constituents. All public health experts say one of the most effective methods for mitigating COVID-19 is if everyone wears a face mask. Speaker Pat Grassley and many of my Republican colleagues are providing a very poor example to Iowans by refusing to implement a mask mandate on the basis that it is “unenforceable” and further, refusing to wear masks, rambling off selfish excuses about their constitutional rights and how Democrats are living in unwarranted fear of the coronavirus. By denying this basic safety precaution they have made the Iowa Capitol a hazardous work environment for the elected officials in the building, the Capitol staff and the thousands of constituents who come to voice their concerns.
On Tuesday, I wore jeans on the House floor, which is against House decorum. Before we took the floor for debate I was asked by the Chief Clerk to change my pants to conform to those rules. When debate began I turned my light on to request the floor to speak on the bill and was told I would not be recognized because I had broken two House rules by wearing denim. I had broken the rules. And they enforced the rules.
If a dress code is enforceable, so is a mask mandate. If Speaker Grassley would demonstrate he cares by consistently wearing a face mask, recognizing the science behind their usage, and honestly educating his caucus on the importance of using face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 around the Capitol we would all be safer. And I have no doubt you would be too.