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Iowa state Senate passes bill that penalizes cities for cutting police budgets

Iowa state Senate passes bill that penalizes cities for cutting police budgets
© Greg Nash

The Iowa state Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that penalizes cities and counties for cutting police budgets after the Black Lives Matter and “defund the police” movements last summer. 

Iowa’s upper chamber approved a bill that cuts state funding to local governments if they reduce funding for law enforcement at a greater percentage than they decrease their overall budget. Forty-one senators, including 10 Democrats, voted in support of Senate File 479, which will now head to the state House. 

Under the bill, cities and counties can appeal by providing reasoning for cutting police budgets, including a drop in one-time expenses or a population decrease. Any state funding cut for these local governments will not affect funding for law enforcement, the Des Moines Register reported.  

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Supporters of the bill assert that legislation is needed to combat the “defund the police” movement, while opponents worried that local officials would refrain from requesting funding for police initiatives to avoid needing to possibly raise their whole budget. 

The legislation passed the Senate along with another bill that increased the penalties for crimes during demonstrations, including assaults on officers and other public safety employees, unlawful assembly and criminal mischief.

Republicans said that bill, which passed 31-17, is designed to discourage demonstrators and protect law enforcement, according to the Register. But Democrats criticize the punishments for going too far and not focusing on decreasing bias in the criminal justice system.

The Iowa legislation comes after protests broke out across the country last year following George Floyd’s death after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.