Reynolds signs police reform bill with no mention of felon voting rights

By: - June 12, 2020 4:19 pm

Gov. Kim Reynolds signs a police reform bill on June 12, 2020, alongside Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines, D-Des Moines. (Photo by Linh Ta/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

As Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds sat outside and signed a historic police reform bill into law, chants of “Black Lives Matter” rang out on the steps of the Capitol from protesters holding their fists skyward.

Sitting in front of a poster of a Black Power fist, Reynolds signed House File 2647, which aims to remove from the ranks of police departments those officers who have a history of serious misconduct. It’s also intended to provide training for officers on recognizing their biases and on techniques for de-escalating confrontations  without resorting to force.

Reynolds commended the Legislature for quickly drafting and passing the bill this week. Leaders from both parties met with the governor on Monday and drafted a bill. It passed in one day with unanimous support from Republican and Democrat legislators, following weeks of protests across Iowa in  response to the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police.

Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks with Reps. Ras Smith, D-Waterloo and Ako Abdul-Samad, D-Des Moines, after signing a police reform bill on June 12, 2020. (Photo by Linh Ta/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Reynolds gave special thanks to Reps. Ako Abdul-Samad, D-Des Moines, and Ras Smith, D-Waterloo, for their work on the bill.

“I’m proud to say in Iowa we do things different,” Reynolds said. “This bill is a loud and resounding signal from the people of Iowa and its leaders that we are ready and willing to act.”

Reynolds, however, did not say anything about signing an executive order granting automatic restoration of  voting rights for felons — a step that activists have asked her to take this session. 

However, the governor met with a few members of Des Moines Black Lives Matter on Friday and said she is planning on drafting an executive order, said Matthew Bruce, a leader in the group.

Black Lives Matter protesters went to the Iowa Capitol to watch Gov. Kim Reynolds sign a bipartisan police reform bill into law. (Photo by Linh Ta/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Members of Des Moines Black Lives Matter have a meeting scheduled with the governor on Monday to look over the draft, he added.

Pat Garrett, spokesperson for the governor’s office, did not respond to a request for confirmation regarding the proposed executive order. Reynolds did not answer any questions during the public signing.

While Friday was a joyous occasion for those on hand, Bruce said the group’s primary goal is getting Reynolds to sign the executive order.

“It’s joy. It’s pure joy. We know we’re getting stuff done that’s going to affect generations,” Bruce said. “We’re trying to sit in the joy moving forward.”

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