DES MOINES – During Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Condition of the State address on Tuesday, she recognized a Waterloo man who is a convicted felon. She restored his right to vote after he applied to her office.
William Burt is a business owner who is working to change Iowa law to allow mobile barber shops. After he received a standing ovation from dozens of lawmakers and statehouse staff, Burt walked over to the Secretary of State’s office and registered to vote on the Iowa Constitution.
In her speech, Reynolds called for lawmakers to pass a constitutional amendment to permanently restore a convicted felon’s right to vote once that person completes his or her sentence.
“I recently called William to tell him that I was restoring his voting rights. Hearing those words brought tears to his eyes,” said Reynolds. “You can’t imagine the gratitude and dignity that Iowans like William feel when they’re told they can once again exercise what Ronald Reagan called “the crown jewel of American liberties.”
In 2019, Reynolds proposed the same piece of legislation for lawmakers to pass. It passed the House with bipartisan support, but was stalled in the Senate.
“I also appreciate the productive conversations we are having with Senators, and I look forward to continuing to work with you to pass the amendment and craft an implementing statute that lets us avoid the confusion and lawsuits that have plagued other states’ restoration efforts,” said Reynolds. “Together, we can help put returning citizens on a path to redemption. We can help them become productive members of society, reduce recidivism, and make our communities a safer place.”
The bill will start in the Senate again in 2020.