DES MOINES — Shortly before the 2018 legislative session was gaveled into session Monday and new members of the House and Senate took their oaths of office, another group took an oath to hold them accountable.
“We want them to know we are paying attention and will continue to pay attention throughout the whole session,” said Jodi Clemens of West Branch, who was among a handful of Indivisible Iowa members who swore an “oath of resistance” in the Statehouse rotunda.
Together they pledged to face the challenges of the session “with courage, kindness, compassion and determination.”
Clemens, a Cedar County Democrat challenging state Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, said that despite controversial victories in 2017 — the first session that Republicans had control of both legislative chambers and the governor’s office in two decades — the GOP “still has horrific bills on the table.”
The oath of resistance wasn’t just for candidates but for “anyone who believes in ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people,’” said Marie Herring of Davis City.
The session scheduled for 100 days is “round 2 of the war on workers’ rights, war on education, the war on women’s rights,” added Temple Hiatt of Iowa City.
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Laura Wright of Decorah insisted the Indivisible Iowa members weren’t “just showing up as the far left … (but) because we saw what they did last year.”
The impact of Republican changes fell most on rural Iowa, where communities rely more heavily on government services, Wright said. Rural families that can’t afford to send their children to live in dormitories at regent universities rely on state support for community colleges.
Education savings accounts, or vouchers, threaten the small public schools in northeast Iowa, she added.
If there’s any good news in what Republicans did last year, Hiatt said, it’s that they have depleted the budget to the point that they won’t be able to pay for some of the things they want to do this year.
Several Indivisible Iowa members said they were making their first visit to the Capitol, but promised it wouldn’t be their last.
In their oath, the Indivisible Iowa members pledged to uphold the rights of women, children, families, farmers, students, Dreamers, rural residents, educators and workers. They promised “to ensure our elected officials remain dedicated to these same priorities and, if they do not, I pledge to vote them out in future elections.”