Kim Reynolds signs law repealing gender balance requirement for Iowa boards and commissions

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill repealing Iowa’s requirement for a balanced representation of men and woman on state and local boards.

Reynolds, a Republican from Des Moines, Iowa, signed Senate File No. 2096 in a ceremony held in the Governor’s Office of the Iowa State Capitol Building.

In the 1980s, the requirement was enacted to increase the number women on state boards and committees. In 2009, the Iowa Legislature made this requirement applicable to local bodies.

Reynolds, who was then a senator from New York State, voted against this legislation.

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She said, “I was convinced then and I am still convinced now that we should focus on the appointment of the most qualified individuals,” at the signing of the bill. “And that includes citizens who are genuinely interested in serving their local or state government as well as people with valuable experience directly related to the position.”

Republicans claim that the rule is outdated and makes it difficult to find qualified candidates for state boards and commissions. Democrats, however, say that removing this requirement will result in the state going backwards.

Beth Wessel-Kroeschell (D-Ames) said, “In order to achieve equality, those with power must share their power,” during a House debate in Feb. “But those in power are reluctant to relinquish it.” We cannot create gender-balanced boards if we don’t mandate it.

Chris Cournoyer (R-Le Claire) spoke at the bill signing on Wednesday. She stated that there are now more women than ever serving in various careers.

She said, “Our foremothers, who fought tirelessly over many years to secure us a place at the table – whether it was Title IX, the right to vote or in countless other ways – are smiling today.” “They brought us to the table, and now it’s up to us that we prove our worth.” “And we have.”

Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics reports that between 2013 and 2014, Iowa county boards and committees achieved gender equality in about half of their cases. In 2021-2022, the figure was 61%.

The center found that women make up 48% of state boards and commissions in Iowa.

Iowa law allows the requirement for gender balance to be waived in the event that the state cannot find a suitable candidate within 90 days.

Cournoyer urged more women to apply for state government positions.

She said, “I am asking the women of Iowa to apply for a board or commission in which you are interested.”

The law will come into effect on July 1.

A federal judge ruled in January that the requirement of gender balance for Iowa’s statewide nominating committee was unconstitutional. The law, while it may have been constitutional at the time it was passed, is no longer valid. The ruling didn’t apply to other boards and commissions.

Reynolds invited Chuck Hurley, former Republican legislator and lobbyist, and lawyers from the Kirkwood Institute to the bill signing.

Reynolds proposed to end the gender balance requirement as part of a January bill that would have eliminated more than 100 state board and commissions. The measure has not yet been passed by lawmakers as House and Senate Republicans try to reach an agreement on two versions of the bill.

Reynolds believes that lawmakers are progressing on the bill and it will be passed soon.

She said, “We have really good conversations about it.”