A rookie in the Iowa senate who’s an Iraq War veteran wants quicker action on a bill that would make it a crime to lie about receiving a medal from the military.
Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican from Red Oak, was elected to the state senate in a special election in January. She served in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 as part of a National Guard unit.
“We are calling this the ‘Stolen Valor Act’ because that is exactly what we are attempting to stop — the theft of honor earned in war time by everyday Iowans who went above and beyond the call of duty,” Ernst said Wednesday morning during a speech on the Senate floor.
A similar law at the federal law has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal court and the Democratic leader of the Iowa Senate is asking backers of a similar law at the state level to see if they can make changes in the bill’s wording to try to ensure it wouldn’t face a similar fate.
“I understand that some of my colleagues from across the aisle are concerned that this act would infringe upon the right to free speech. I cannot begin to comprehend your hesitation in this very specific instance,” Ernst said. “If I put on the uniform of an officer of the law and attempt to pass myself off as such, would I be guilty of impersonating a peace officer or would I be exercising my right to free speech?”
Ernst went one step further, accusing those who’d tabled the bill for a rewrite of being cowards. “And I pray my colleagues on the other side of the aisle search deep within them and find the intestinal fortitude to demand that this bill come to the floor of the Senate for consideration,” Ernst said to conclude her five minute speech.
Listen to ErnstSpeech
Senate leaders suggest Ernst might have checked with them before making her comments, as they still plan to bring the bill up for a vote once the rewrite is complete.