Iowa Senate Votes To Get Rid Of Gender Balance Requirement On State And Local Boards And Commissions

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa Senate has voted to repeal a law that requires state and local boards and commissions to have an equal number of men and women.

Iowa was the first state in the nation to pass a gender balance requirement and Governor Kim Reynolds is asking lawmakers to end it. Republican Senator Annette Sweeney of Iowa Falls says she never wants to learn she’s been selected as the token female on a board.

Senator Chris Cournoyer, a Republican from Le Claire, says it’s insulting to have someone picked to serve on a board because of their gender rather than their qualifications.

Senator Herman Quirmbach of Ames was the only Democrat to support getting rid of the gender quota. Quirmbach says choosing people based on merit means some boards will wind up being majority female since more women than men are earning college degrees.

Other Democrats argued the gender balance requirement should be retained. Senator Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, says having an equal number of men and women on the same board means the discussion is balanced.

“You know when we bring different perspectives to the table we’re safer, we’re healthier, we’re happier people,” Petersen said.

Senator Sarah Trone-Garriott, a Democrat from Waukee, says the gender balance requirement is needed because the world still isn’t fair.

Senate Democratic Leader Pam Jochum of Dubuque says the gender balance requirement gets more people involved in their communities.

A federal judge recently ruled the gender balance requirement for the state commission that nominates judges was unconstitutional.


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