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Panel of Iowa faith leaders discusses concerns with several legislative bills

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 10:27 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Hosted by the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa and Action Fund, a panel of Iowa faith and legislative leaders spoke out against several legislative bills that they say are harmful to people of color in Iowa.

Speakers focused on a bill about the “1619 Project” which discusses the impact of slavery on U.S. history and the country today. The bill would cut funding for school districts that teach the project.

Representative Ras Smith, from Waterloo, said the project can be a tool to help students.

”The complexity of the fact that our founding fathers like George Washington, yes was a founding father but was also a slave owner, gives our students the ability to think critically about how complex our nation is. But also gives us direction to not repeat some of the same travesties we’ve seen over the history of America,” Smith said.

Pastor Lee Schott, from Valley United Methodist Church in West Des Moines, also raised concerns about a bill looking to change election laws.

“We’re gonna limit the time and accessibility of people to vote? What are we afraid of? We’re a democracy, right? Voting is at the heart of our rights as citizens,” Schott said.

The Iowa Senate passed that bill, Senate File 413, 30-18 on Tuesday. It would shorten early voting by 11 more days -- the second time Republicans have cut the early voting timeframe in four years.

The Iowa House GOP posted a statement on Twitter from Republican Representative Bobby Kaufmann last week concerning HSB 213, saying “I adamantly, ardently and judiciously believe that HSB 213 does not suppress one single vote.” HSB 213 was the previous version of HF 590- Senate File 413 bill’s companion in the House.

The House has yet to pass its version of the bill.

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