i9 Fact Checker: Governor’s Ad ignores past stance on school shutdowns during COVID-19

Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 6:23 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Gov. Kim Reynold’s (R) first political television advertisement makes a comparison between the policies coming out of Washington D.C. and Des Moines.

Source: Kim Reynolds for Iowa

The ad from her reelection campaign highlights the governor’s legislative accomplishments in office compared to policies from Democrats, like President Joe Biden.

Claim #1: “Gov. Reynolds eliminates taxes on retirement income,”

Analysis: This claim refers to a bill, which was signed into law in March. The bill changed the state income rate to 3.9% for every Iowa by 2026. The change, which is commonly called a Flat Tax, also eliminated taxes on retirement income like 401(k)s and IRAs.

According to the Legislative Services Agency, this applies to state individual income taxes for disabled taxpayers and taxpayers 55-years-old or older. The agency also said this applies to a deceased person’s retirement income received by a spouse or person with an insurable interest in the deceased person.

Gov. Reynolds announced her support for removing taxes on retirement income in her state of the state address in January.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which is a government-authorized nonprofit overseeing broker-dealers, said people will still pay federal taxes on the income withdrawn from IRAs and 401(k)s.

Conclusion: Reynolds has no power to eliminate federal taxes on retirement income but she did eliminate state taxes. This claim gets an A.

Claim #2: “…bipartisan support to increase mental health services,”

Analysis: The campaign referred us to two bills, which became law in 2018 related to mental health issues.

Senate File 2113 required school employees to receive one hour of training every year on how to prevent suicide. The bill also required school employees to receive training to identify adverse childhood experiences and strategies to stop toxic stress responses. The bill passed the senate 49-0 and the house 98-0.

House File 2456 created six regional access centers for people experiencing a mental health crisis, who don’t need to be hospitalized. The law also increased the number of community treatment teams, who assist residents with managing medication and treatment plans for those with serious mental illnesses.

The law also created clearer guidelines for psychiatrists on when to report dangerous patients to law enforcement and created a 24-hour crisis hotline. It passed the senate 49-0 and in the house 98-0.

Conclusion: The amount of credit Gov. Reynold’s can claim from these two laws is debatable. However, she did sign it into law and that’s why this claim will gets an A.

Claim #3: “new protections for law enforcement.”

Analysis: This claim refers to a bill Gov. Reynolds signed into law in June 2021 in response to anti-police protests. The law makes numerous changes to Iowa’s criminal codes, adds protections for public safety employees and benefits public safety employees receive.

Those new protections for law enforcement include a new and stronger definition of qualified immunity, which makes it more difficult for people to sue law enforcement for misconduct. It also removes liabilities from cities or state agencies when the claim against an employee is protected by qualified immunity.

The bill also allows law enforcement, judges and county attorneys to keep their addresses confidential on public records according to the Legislative Services Agency. The nonpartisan agency also says the bill restricts ways an officer can be discharged, disciplined or threatened with discharge.

This legislation also increases the penalties for rioting, blocking roads, pointing a laser into another person’s eyes, protects drivers hitting protestors in the streets from civil liabilities along with other changes.

Conclusion: While critics argued this bill punished protesters, the law certainly adds new protections for law enforcement. That’s why it gets an A.

Claim #4: “Gov. Reynolds kept schools open during COVID.”

Analysis: This is referring to a bill signed in January 2021 requiring Iowa schools to offer 100% in-person learning five days a week. Gov. Reynolds announced the plan at her Condition of the State address in 2021.

Gov. Reynolds initially ordered schools to in March 2020 and then extended that, closing districts for the rest of the school year amid the initial spread and fears from COVID-19 in Iowa. The decision, her office said, was based on advice from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and guidance from the Centers for Disease (CDC).

Conclusion: While Governor Reynolds became a forceful advocate to reopen schools to in-person learning, even making it the law, she was also the one who ordered them to close initially in 2020 at the onset of the Pandemic.  That’s why this claim gets a D.