CEDAR RAPIDS — After saying last week they were “appalled” that Gov. Kim Reynolds has not appointed people to vacant seats on the state Board of Health, Iowa Democrats expressed “outrage” at her “failed leadership” Monday.
Her inaction, which makes it impossible for the board to meet because of a lack of a quorum, is “unacceptable,” especially in a pandemic, Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Rep. Ross Wilburn of Ames and House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights, said on a conference call with reporters.
Echoing other speakers, Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, called it another example of Reynolds’ “failed leadership.”
The Democrats’ criticism stems from the board’s July 14 meeting being canceled because the 11-member board does not have the quorum required to make decisions. There are seven vacant positions on the 11-member board.
However, a spokesman for the governor said Reynolds makes appointments to boards and commissions as terms expire or when individuals leave their positions.
Reynolds is “actively reviewing applicants to several positions, including to the State Board of Health, which has met quorum requirements for every month in 2020 and from January to June of 2021,” spokesman Pat Garrett said.
The board should be meeting to make recommendations to the Department of Public Health and local schools about the return to school later this summer and how the state should be preparing if COVID-19 vaccine boosters are called for, Sen. Liz Mathis, D-Hiawatha, said. Mathis, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Human Resources Committee, has been asking the department for recommendations based on what did and didn’t work in providing COVID-19 vaccines.
“These are critical functions when you’re in the middle of a pandemic,” added Wahls.
Instead, the governor has followed the advice of her political team rather than experts from the public health and medical communities, Wahls said.
State law requires a balance of gender and political affiliation. The four current members are three Republicans and one independent. There are openings for two members of the public as well as two people involved in substance abuse treatment and prevention, and three in public health.
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