In public service, it is often alleged that legislators compromise in order to get things done for the constituents they serve. In the end, there can be no solution without compromise. For example, show me a marriage where one spouse is unwilling to ever compromise on what they want or expect and I will show a marriage that is doomed to fail. Crafting public policy is no different. If one side is unwilling to find middle ground then the issue typically fails to gain the support it needs to pass both chambers and get signed into law.
Please, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying people should compromise their moral values on issues, but when it comes to crafting policy there is significant dialogue on how to best accomplish a goal. In my sixteen years of service to my constituents, I have brokered many deals on a wide variety of legislation. On certain occasions, I did not get everything that I felt should be included in a bill, but I did not abandon the cause or give up entirely. I took the win for my constituents that I could get and came back the next day, week, month, or legislative session and continued to fight for what I believed in.
Last week we saw firsthand what no compromise accomplishes. A very important issue to me and thousands of Iowans failed to gain the necessary support to move forward in the House. The issue was dealing with Medical Privacy and Freedom from discrimination due to Covid-19 vaccination status.
Since the onset of Covid two years ago we have seen our personal freedoms and liberties diminished on multiple different fronts by government entities and businesses. My colleagues and I in the legislature have responded by passing multiple pieces of legislation to protect Iowans and restore freedoms. However, as we have all seen, there seems to be a new intrusion into our lives every time we think we have turned the corner, therefore new protections are needed.
The Medical Privacy and Freedom from Discrimination bill is something many of my Republican colleagues and I have been working on and having discussions about since before session started. The base premise behind the bill is to protect Iowans from having to disclose their vaccination status to their employer or educational institution, as well as preventing people from being discriminated against based upon whether or not they have received a Covid vaccination.
In the subcommittee, the bill received one of the largest outpourings of support from Iowans I have ever seen. The room in which the subcommittee took place was packed and had an overflow crowd into the capitol rotunda. The hearing on the bill lasted for hours which does not traditionally happen.
After the bill cleared committee, it became clear that changes had to be made (compromises) in order to gain support in the House and Senate. As time is always against us in the legislature, procedural maneuvers were needed in order to keep the proposal alive and have a chance of passing the Senate. During this time, I worked closely with many interested parties both within my caucus and advocacy groups to refine and improve the language while keeping the main intent of the protections in place.
Unfortunately, despite the effort my colleagues and I put behind the proposal there were still those who felt that it didn’t go far enough and were displeased with the procedural maneuvers employed to keep the proposal alive. As a result of this no compromise, all or nothing attitude, the proposal failed to pass on the House floor. This saddens me greatly as I believe Iowans deserve the protections encompassed in the proposal.
Compromise is not a dirty word, but how lawmakers get things get done. As we move forward, I will continue to fight for these protections that Iowan’s deserve.