House lawmakers kill classroom camera proposal

‘I was never in support of it,’ said one key Republican

By: - February 9, 2022 3:09 pm

School lockers. (Photo by Getty Images)

A controversial bill to install cameras in Iowa classrooms will not move forward after a House subcommittee declined to meet on the proposal.

“I was never in support of it,” said Rep. Ray Sorensen, the Republican leading the subcommittee. “I think it needs… a lot better explanation and a lot more time, honestly, to hear from the public on what something like that would look like.”

House File 2177 would have required schools to install a camera in every classroom, except for those designated for special education or physical education. The cameras would broadcast to a secure website, allowing only parents and guardians to watch the class in real time.

Sorensen, R-Greenfield, dismissed the subcommittee before hearing public testimony, citing scheduling issues. Rep. Ras Smith, the Democrat scheduled to sit on the three-person subcommittee, was not at the Capitol on Wednesday.

“I think it would have been great to have held the sub and let everybody voice their opinions, but without the Democrat here, and then rescheduling with so many bills and funnel week coming up, it just became a scheduling problem,” Sorenson said.

Education groups registered against the proposal online. No groups registered in favor of the bill.

Sorenson said lawmakers will have the upcoming campaign year to ask constituents whether they’d be interested in a similar proposal. 

“They can continue to give us their feedback, and next year, if it comes back again, I’m sure that stuff will be very popular,” he said. 

Rep. Norlin Mommsen, R-DeWitt, proposed the bill. He said he was “a little disappointed” the bill wouldn’t move forward, but he was glad to have started a conversation about parental involvement and oversight in schools.

“When I look at the remote learning, it did spark parental interest in what was going on in the schools, and that’s what I was trying to nurture and continue on,” Mommsen said.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.