Iowa Senate Session Opens With Claim Teachers Have 'Sinister Agenda' Against Children

Iowa's Senate president, Jake Chapman, began Monday's legislative session attacking the media and teachers, claiming a "sinister agenda" to normalize children's deviant behavior.

"It has become increasingly evident that we live in a world in which many, including our media, wish to confuse, misguide and deceive us, calling good evil and evil good," Chapman said.

Chapman made it clear during his speech he believes control over books should be a priority of the legislative session.

"The attack on our children is no longer hidden," he said. "Those who wish to normalize sexually deviant behavior against our children, including pedophilia and incest, are pushing this movement more than ever before."

Chapman has previously voiced his support over the growing movement to ban and control books at Iowa's schools, even saying he supports jailing instructors who teach students "obscene" material.

"Some teachers are disguising sexually obscene material as desired subject matter and profess it has artistic and literary value," Chapman said.

Democratic leaders say Chapman's statements make Iowan teachers and even nurses hesitant, calling his remarks "divisive" and "highly political."

House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst said politicians should allow educators unrestricted freedom to teach students the truth.

"It's become increasingly clear we can no longer ignore the lies and misinformation so pervasive today. As elected officials, we have a deep responsibility to not just tell the truth, but defend the truth and hold each other accountable," Konfrst said. "Our democracy needs us to uphold the truth so it can endure."

Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls stated Iowa, which is entering its sixth year of being Republican led, is facing a more severe labor shortage than other states across the country because of the current agenda.

"We've been told it will be more of the GOP greatest hits this session: more attacks on LGBTQ Iowans, more gasoline on the culture war fire and more attacks on the First Amendment," Wahls said.

Wahls also stated Senate Republicans prohibited reporters on the floor for the first time in more than a century, forcing reporters to work in the restricted public gallery.

"We believe Iowa needs to end the divisive culture wars that pit Iowans against Iowans and instead bring our state together," he said. "We need to make Iowa an inclusive and welcoming place to get our state growing again."

Iowa Legislative Jake Chapman
Iowa's legislative session opened Monday with Senate president claiming the media ans educators of a “sinister agenda.” Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (R) and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds (L) listen as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks at "An Evening at the Fair" event with Scott County Republicans in the Starlight Ballroom at The Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds on July 17, 2014 in Davenport, Iowa. In addition to the event at the fairgrounds, Christie attended two fundraisers for Branstad and Reynolds and greeted patrons with them at MJ's Restaurant in Marion, Iowa. With this four-city Iowa tour many suggest Christie may be testing his support in the state with hopes of a 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Scott Olson/Getty Images

The legislature is expected to focus on tax cuts and reforms to unemployment law plans.

Other Republican leaders talked of approving tax cuts, rewriting unemployment laws to push people back to work and creating a parents bill of rights that could determine how schools decide which books are appropriate for libraries.

The 150 lawmakers and staff returned to the Capitol with no mask, vaccine or test requirements as COVID-19 continues rapid spread throughout the state.

Lawmakers could decide how to deal with potential federal vaccine mandates, which now are tied up in the courts. A group of people opposed to vaccine requirements rallied inside the Capitol on Monday morning before lawmakers began the session.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds will deliver her Condition of the State address on Tuesday evening, outlining her budget and policy priorities for the year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.