SUNDAY TALK: Guth on Legislative Activity

There is a lot of activity on many issues in the Iowa Senate. We passed bills regarding organ donations, selling mushrooms in farmers markets, promoting and understanding of personal finances. A couple of things that are still coming through committees are SSB 1168 and SF 240.

SSB 1168 would permit sports wagering and creates a regulatory framework that would help maintain integrity of the sport. This bill allows the expansion of gambling onto the internet and alarms me. Compulsive gambling is very addictive and making it available on the internet seems like a very bad idea. At least with our casinos we have to go to the establishment to gamble. If we put it on the internet it will be available in any spare moment to those who are least able to resist the temptation.

SF 240 is the Religious Liberty Restoration Act (RFRA) says that government shall not burden a person’s free exercise of religion unless it conflicts with a compelling government interest. Safety is the most often named compelling government interest.

While the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to free exercise of religion, in 1990 the U. S. Supreme Court began to limit that freedom. In 1993, the U.S. Congress passed the RFRA with only three dissenting votes in order to reinforce those rights. In 1996, the courts decided it applied only to federal government action. So, individual states began passing their own RFRAs. There are currently 21 states with their own RFRA.

Currently, many Iowans are concerned that they can’t live according to their faith when they are at work or in the public. Even churches are concerned they may be punished for standing for one-man, one-woman marriage as God’s design.

RFRA is not about determining who is right and who is wrong. It is about respecting everyone’s beliefs without coercion. We would all like others to believe the same thing we do. We must use reason to persuade them, not rely on coercion to force them to act according to our beliefs. Today, what people are calling “diversity” of lifestyle is protected by government action to the point that true diversity is outlawed. This means that today’s “diversity” is beginning to sound like conformity or thought control from a totalitarian government. Thought control is wrong. Freedom of speech and religion is a God-given government protected right. RFRA will help bring respect for everyone’s views.

Finally, two bills that died this week dealt with exemptions from mandatory vaccination. Let me make it clear– I am not opposed to vaccinations. I have heard about many vaccine injured individuals and I would like to see vaccines made safer. I expected that there would be contention over this issue. What surprised me was the number of doctors, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, etc. that contacted me in support of more exemptions from mandatory vaccination. There is a problem with unvaccinated families finding a doctor that will see them. When a family has already had a vaccine injured child, they should be able to refuse vaccinations to their other children without being discriminated against by clinics, doctors, school, etc.

The biggest argument against allowing exemptions to vaccinations is herd immunity. Many of you farmers are acquainted with this. In order to have herd immunity, a very large percent of the herd must be vaccinated, regardless of age. We have never approached that level in the United States, and probably never will. Even if 100% of the population is vaccinated, a percentage of all vaccinated people develop no immunity. Although these two bills failed, I will continue researching ways to make vaccines safer for everyone.

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”—John F. Kennedy.

Forums will be at: March 2-Estherville, 9:30AM, Farm & Home show, Regional Wellness Center; March 8- Garner, 8:00AM at Garner Library; Corwith, 1:00PM at Corwith City Hall; Britt, 1:15 PM at Britt City Hall.