Iowa Bans Mask Mandates, Expands Education Freedom

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our lives upside down while presenting many challenges and affronts to liberty. Unfortunately, under the guise of the pandemic, individual freedom took a backseat to the fear instilled by power-hungry politicians over the past year. Fortunately, there are freedom fighters who will stop at nothing to uphold our natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In a similar vein, the state motto inscribed on the Iowa state flag reads: “Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain.” This creed rings true and encompasses the values of Iowans.

Correspondingly, on May 20, Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa signed SF847 into law. This legislation bans mask mandates by local entities, including school districts. This means parents and individuals are able to make decisions that are best for themselves and their families. This is a huge step toward regaining our freedom and breaking the stranglehold of power government has wielded over us since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak more than 15 months ago.

Gov. Reynolds had this to say regarding the new law, which becomes effective immediately: “The state of Iowa is putting parents back in control of their child’s education and taking greater steps to protect the rights of all Iowans to make their own health care decisions. I am proud to be a governor of a state that values personal responsibility and individual liberties. I want to thank the Iowa Legislature for their quick work in bringing this bill to my desk so that it can be signed into law.”

The legislation passed the House by a 53-35 vote and the Senate by a 29-17 vote. This is an excellent note for the Iowa Legislature to end the 2021 legislative session on. Make no mistake, Iowa has been a leader when it comes to rolling back COVID-19 restrictions, including mask mandates and indoor capacity restrictions. Because of this, the Iowa economy and people are better off.

The law also bans city and county governments from instituting mask mandates. However, it still allows local governments to require masks on public property.

The new law also expands educational opportunities for Iowa’s most vulnerable students by expanding open enrollment and opportunity tax credits for Iowa students. Another key aspect of the law is to create more opportunities for charter schools to operate within the state, making the process easier for new charter school startups.

It would be beneficial for other states to follow the lead of the Hawkeye State by codifying these basic freedoms into law. This legislation creates a solution to push back on leftist hysteria and actually aligns with the newly announced Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines regarding masks. The new guidelines state that vaccinated individuals need not wear masks in most situations.

The good news is that more states and businesses are making efforts to leave the discretion of wearing masks up to the individual. The bad news is that too many states and businesses remain hesitant to adopt the CDC mask guidelines, which could add to vaccine hesitancy.

The bottom line is that vaccines are readily available throughout the country. Any American who wants the vaccine can get it. Because of the stunning success of Operation Warp Speed, wearing masks should no longer be mandated, especially for those who have been vaccinated. Other states should follow Iowa’s lead by increasing freedom while reducing burdensome COVID-19 mandates and restrictions.

Christina Herrin ([email protected]) is a government relations manager at The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think-tank headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.