Stand with the police and keep communities safe. That was the message Iowa Legislative Republicans heard from voters last year. To deliver for voters, Republicans in the Iowa House passed SF 342. The bill will increases penalties and provides better protection for members of law enforcement.
The legislation could be seen as a rejection of the Defund the Police demands that activists made before last fall’s election. The idea of gutting police department budgets and instead pour cash into social programs like healthcare and education proved to be unpopular with voters.
SF 342 is part of a “Back the Blue” policy effort promoted by Governor Kim Reynolds in her Condition of the State Address as wells as conservatives nationwide.
While a handful of Iowa Legislative Democrats supported the legislation with their vote, the vast majority opposed the measure.
Over a dozen Democratic candidates supported a Defund the Police pledge put forward by the progressively oriented Future Now Fund.
A website maintained by the group notes they sought to “Improve Public Safety by Reinvesting Policing Savings in Community Based and Prevention Programs.”
Additionally, they posit that defunding police departments can be justified as they have been shown to “have no connection to crime rates.“
Iowa House Minority Leader Todd Prichard of Floyd County took the opportunity last week to tout his appreciation and support for law enforcement but ultimately voted against SF 342. Prichard was one of the Iowa Democrats who signed the Future Now Pledge.
The final vote was 63 in favor and 30 opposed. A total of eight Democrats joined the majority and voted in favor.