Iowa Businesses Agree, Republicans’ “Religious Freedom For All” Bill is Bad for State’s Economy

Local Businesses, Chambers of Commerce are Against Republican Bill that Stokes Culture War

While Iowa Senate Republicans would like you to think that their “Religious Freedom for All” Bill, is just that, here’s the truth: this bill will make it harder for Iowa businesses to recruit and retain employees. It allows businesses to discriminate against employees and customers based on religious expression, which is why Iowa business leaders have forcefully spoken out against it.

This bill, which the Iowa Senate passed today, makes Iowa an unwelcoming state and makes it harder for businesses to find employees, which is why several businesses and chambers of commerce have opposed the bill, including the Marshalltown Chamber of Commerce, Iowa Chamber Alliance, Krause Group, and the Principal Financial and Technology Association of Iowa.

“The proposed legislation is not only a moral issue but an economic one as well. For years, business leaders have shared the detrimental business impacts of policies that exclude LGBTQ+ people from full participation in daily life, including negative impacts on workforce, recruitment, productivity and bottom lines,” said Val Veiock, owner of Bings gift store.

“Senate File 2095 would enable discrimination. It would empower Iowa business owners to deny services or accommodations based on potential customer sexual orientation or gender identity or any other protected class. While termed religious freedom, we believe that such discrimination in any context is contrary to our state’s values and sends the wrong message about Iowa,” said Tim Coonan, lobbyist for Principal Financial Group, which opposes the bill.

When my business does grow and I want to move into a public space, I see limitations for me in being able to do that,said Heather Schott, a business owner in West Des Moines who is gender-nonconforming.

Just today, the Iowa Business Council released its annual report, which states Iowa’s workforce is “tapped out” and newcomers are needed. Iowa only has 67 available workers for every 100 open jobs, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

“Iowa Republicans are continuing their bizarre obsession with legislating away Iowans’ freedoms instead of growing Iowa’s economy. We need to make it easier for Iowa businesses to recruit and retain top talent, not harder,” said IDP Chair Rita Hart. “Yet, Republicans would rather play politics than spend time working to resolve the issues that Iowa businesses are facing by attracting more workers to Iowa, raising the minimum wage, and providing more affordable housing and childcare options so everyone has a safe place to live and raise their families. Iowa Democrats will make sure Iowans know their choices in November.”