Dr. Thomas Laehn is the Greene County attorney and the only Libertarian to hold an elective partisan office in Iowa. The Des Moines Register published an earlier version of this commentary.
After virtually no meaningful debate and only a single, relatively inconsequential amendment, both chambers of our Republican-controlled legislature approved Governor Kim Reynolds’ massive state government reorganization plan (Senate File 514) within a two-week period. Reynolds signed the bill on April 4.
Unsurprisingly, the new law—which originated in the executive branch—will transfer significant power from the legislature to the governor. Sadly, in both Washington, DC and Des Moines, our legislators (regardless of their party affiliation) have regularly displayed far greater loyalty to their party than to the constitutional system of separated powers to which they swore their allegiance upon assuming office.
While I am thus entirely unsurprised by our Republican legislators’ abdication of their constitutional responsibilities, I am deeply disappointed at their willingness to subvert the local administration of justice in our state in the process. Ironically, the political party that has always claimed to defend local government against those who would otherwise centralize power is systematically stripping our local elected officials—including our county auditors, school boards, and county attorneys—of their discretion.