Evans: There are more questions than answers in Iowa these days

It may be time for lawmakers to designate an official state punctuation mark, too. 

The question mark seems to be an appropriate choice — especially after the troubling news from our state in the past few weeks, news that has left many Iowans asking “why?”

Some examples: 

Why does it seem as if state health officials do not have a well-planned strategy for vaccinating people in every nook and cranny of our state? And why have people basically been left to fend for themselves by making numerous phone calls trying to find a clinic or a pharmacy or a county health office that has appointments for the shots available? 

Why does it seem as if no one in a position of responsibility has considered until the past week or two how people who do not have computers or internet access, or people who are working during the day, are supposed to make these appointments — especially when vaccination providers in some communities only allow people to sign up online? Why did our governor and our United States senators not use their close relationships with former President Donald Trump to pressure his administrators to ensure that Iowa received a comparable allotment of vaccine doses, based on population, as other states received? 

This is especially vexing because the federal government’s data show Iowa ranked 47th among the 50 states last week, per-capita, in its vaccine supply. Iowa was 46th worst among the states in the proportion of its residents who have been vaccinated so far. That federal data say Iowa has administered 64 percent of its vaccine so far — a percentage that is lower than surrounding states.

Stray Thoughts columnist Randy Evans writes about a bill up for debate at the Iowa Statehouse in Des Moines. IowaWatch file photo

Evans: Iowa’s compelling interest in equality for all

Members of the Iowa Legislature are in the midst of tying themselves into knots over the issue of equality, and that’s unfortunate. The knot-tying involves what these lawmakers call “religious freedom.”

That has a patriotic ring to it. Who would disagree? Our constitutional right to freedom of religion sets the United States apart from many nations. But when you analyze what this legislative initiative really involves, it is too reminiscent of America’s past – a past when some people regularly were subjected to discrimination when they tried to find lodging for the night, or sit at a lunch counter for a meal, or to be hired for a job.

Iowa’s Voter Fraud Probe Becomes A Numbers Game

One vote can determine an election, Republicans intent on fighting voter fraud say consistently. That thought drives a controversial investigation ordered by Secretary of State Matt Schultz and carried out by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) to find fraudulent voting in Iowa. “We have evidence that people have gone to the polls and voted when they weren’t supposed to,” Schultz said. “There are several Senate seats that were decided by 20 votes or less.”

The actual number from the 2012 and 2010 elections is two, an IowaWatch review of the state’s voting results shows. In 2012, Senate District 28 was decided by just 17 votes, with Republican Michael Breitbach edging out Democrat John Beard.