House votes to bar COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Iowa schools, colleges

DES MOINES — A bill that’s passed the Iowa House forbids educational institutions in the state from having COVID-19 vaccination mandates for students. The ban would last until July 1, 2029. Republican Representative Henry Stone of Forest City was the only supporter to speak about the bill.

“House File 2298 is a bill that does not allow licensed child care centers, elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools to require the COVID-19 vaccine for enrollment whether virtual or in person,” Stone said.

The ban would apply to both public and private schools, including private colleges like Grinnell College which required students be vaccinated against COVID before the fall semester. The bill passed on a 57-36 vote, with two Democrats joining all Republicans present to support it. Representative Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City, was the only lawmaker to speak against the bill.

“I thought we were to stay out of private business,” Steckman said. “This tells private day cares, private K-12, private colleges what they can do, what they can’t do, so for that reason, and for childrens’ safety, I am a no on this bill.”

The bill was debated and passed by the House in just three minutes and sent to the Senate for a vote.