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Democrats warn Iowa legislature may be ‘super spreader’

DES MOINES — Democrats are warning about the potential spread of Covid-19 in the Iowa Statehouse this week as the 2021 legislative session gets underway.

Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, is accusing Republican leaders of acting like Covid is “no big deal.”

“Your lame reasoning about not being able to require legislators to wear masks is a joke,” Bolkcom said. “I’m mandated to wear this tie and this jacket to be able to stand at this microphone and speak.”

The top GOP leaders in the legislature are “strongly encouraging” lawmakers to wear masks when they can’t socially distance, but they say the Constitution doesn’t give them the power to force elected officials to cover their faces.

Democrats have tried, but failed this week to get their Republican colleagues to agree to mask mandates in committee rooms. And Bolkcom singled out GOP leadership for allowing a few hundred people who were not wearing face coverings to protest inside the statehouse Monday.

“You’re making the Tyson managers look like they had their act together,” Bolkcom said.

Bolkcom also blasted President Trump and Governor Reynolds during a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday. A spokesman for Governor Reynolds said the governor has taken “a balanced approach” to the pandemic that “has protected the lives and livelihoods of Iowans.”

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