Kaufmann cuts back on controversial ‘Suck It Up, Buttercup’ bill

Chris Anderson

Iowa Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, received national attention when he said he intended to introduce legislation dubbed the “Suck It Up, Buttercup” bill in 2017.

Kaufmann first proposed the bill as a reaction to what he saw after the 2016 presidential election.

“I had heard all these reports across the country of schools spending all this money on cry groups, Play-Doh groups [and] coloring groups,” Kaufmann said. “Second of all, the protests on I-80 occurred just outside my district, and I had constituents of mine with their cars blocked by the protests. To me, that is wildly dangerous. You could have people going to the hospital.”

Kaufmann’s original idea was to introduce a bill with two parts to solve these problems. The first part was a budget cut to schools that provided election-related grief counseling.

“Any universities that fund grief counseling or other services, besides those already in place for the purpose of reducing election-related grief, should receive budget cuts double that of the money spent on the previously mentioned services,” Kaufmann said.

The legislator recently announced he planned to drop this part of the bill because he didn’t see the type of spending it targeted in Iowa.

He did, however, tell the Iowa Press Citizen that some of the activities he saw at Iowa State were “pushing the limits,” referring to the post-election “Not my President” rallies.

Iowa State, along with the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa, hosted events intended to discuss and analyze the election. These events were scheduled before the unexpected results on Election Day.

Kaufmann has not decided to drop the second part of his proposed legislation. His idea for part two was to make it easier for law enforcement to criminally charge protesters who block roadways.

Kaufmann’s proposal was met with opposition from people who were worried about the traumatic effects an election outcome can have on those with mental health issues. 

After the original proposal, Disability Caucus Chairwoman Catherine Crist of Cedar Rapids released a statement criticizing Kaufmann. 

“For many, the election results heightened or exacerbated pre-existing medical and mental health conditions,” Crist said. “… To deny services simply because they need to ‘suck it up’ is extremely callous.”

Iowa State Student Government President Cole Staudt also opposed the proposal.

“Rep. Kaufmann, with all due respect, does not understand the very real fears our students are facing because of this election,” Staudt said.

The Iowa Legislature convened Jan. 9, and Kaufmann still intends to propose a much smaller “Suck It Up, Buttercup” bill with measures to punish disruptive protesting.