Reforming the use of eminent domain in Iowa
The Senate Government Oversight Committee has approved legislation that would curtail the use of eminent domain for certain energy projects proposed by private companies in Iowa. Eminent domain is the right of government to appropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation for the property owner.
Lawmakers have heard concerns from landowners about a pipeline that would carry crude oil from North Dakota through Iowa and about the Rock Island Clean Line project to carry wind power out of Iowa. Critics say these projects are about private profit, not public good. A new Senate bill could affect these proposals, both of which are before the Iowa Utilities Board.
SF 506 has five main components:
Before companies are given the power of eminent domain, Iowa’s Economic Development Authority (the agency responsible for energy development) must recommend the proposed project in its annual report. This addresses the need for ongoing planning that is not met by current state law.
Before companies are given the power of eminent domain, they must acquire 75 percent of the land needed for a project through voluntary easements.
Companies seeking voluntary easements are subject to the complaint and investigation authority of the Iowa Utilities Board.
Companies’ financial responsibility for crude oil pipeline projects is increased to $500,000 or more per county.
Additional protections for landowners facing eminent domain by companies that are not public utilities, do not have a duty to serve Iowans, and are not subject to ongoing supervision and planning by the Iowa Utilities Board. This includes access to legal counsel if the Board finds good cause.
The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
This weekend, I received an astounding news tip relevant to the proposed Bakken crude oil pipeline. It was shared with me in confidence, but I can tell you that it literally made my jaw drop!
This breaking story has the potential to completely change the conversation about the pipeline. I’m sorry I can’t tell you more (if a source requests confidentiality, I respect that), but I’ll be able to share full details with you later this morning (Monday, May 11th) on my talk show at 11:00 a.m. on KDLF 1260 AM in Des Moines and online. The actual person breaking the news will join me in the studio. Please tune-in if you are able.
Other topics on today’s Fallon Forum:
(1) Taylor Brorby talks about the fracking/pipeline link.
(2) We discuss the latest problems confronting a foreign-owned fertilizer plant that received over half-a-billion dollars in public money to employ a mere 240 people.
(3) We look at the federal court of appeals ruling last week regarding cell phone spying – a ruling that might encourage Congress to revisit the so-called Patriot Act.
(4) For something a little different, we talk with Dr. Kevin Moore about the growing enthusiasm for investing in gold.
(5) In this week’s edition of Caucus Buzz, we consider the suggestion that some are offering: Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina is the perfect opponent for Hillary Clinton, who appears to be the Democratic establishment’s candidate of choice.
Listen to the Fallon Forum live Mondays from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon on KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online. Podcasts available after the show. Your input is welcome; simply call-in at (515) 528-8122. The program re-broadcasts Wednesdays on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. and on KPVL 89.1 FM (Postville) at 7:00 p.m.
May 18 – Bill McKibben at Grinnell College (Grinnell)
Bill McKibben will speak during the commencement ceremony at 10:00 a.m. at the amphitheater on central campus. (In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in the Charles Benson Bear ’39 Recreation and Athletic Center, 1201 10th Ave.) Free admission. The event also will be live streamed on Grinnell’s website.
May 20 – “Walking the Line: Memoirs on Oil, Land & People” (Hiawatha)
Sharing his experience on the Great March for Climate Action and his 400-mile walk across Iowa along the path of the proposed Bakken Oil Pipeline, Ed Fallon discusses eminent domain and the urgency of tackling the climate crisis. It’s at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center, 120 E Boyson Rd from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Contact Emelia Sautter at email@example.com.
Investing in natural resources, water quality
The Senate Ways & Means Committee has approved legislation to fulfill the state’s commitment to provide sustainable funding for natural resources and outdoor recreation. SF 504 would increase the state sales tax by 3/8 of a percent with revenue going to the Natural Resources & Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, which was approved by 63 percent of Iowa voters in 2010. [Italics BFIA’s]
SF 504 will enhance Iowa’s water quality, natural areas and recreation. Funding would provide more help for farmers and landowners who want to do more on soil conservation and water quality. It would extend trails, improve state and local parks, and restore our lakes and rivers.
These changes are good for the health of Iowans and the environment, and create jobs and economic growth opportunities throughout the state. This funding will mean a better quality of life for all Iowans. That’s a great incentive to folks deciding where to make their home.
This a step forward, but we still have a long way to go before funding becomes a reality. If Iowa’s environmental legacy matters to you, contact state legislators and Governor Branstad and encourage them to support putting money into the Natural Resources & Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.
Senate Switchboard (515)281-3371
House Switchboard (515)281-3221
Governor Branstad (515-281-5211)
To attend, you must RSVP by Monday, May 11th
Feel Free to contact Sue Dinsdale with any questions! firstname.lastname@example.org
RSVP online at: REGISTER NOW! or call 1-800-372-4817
Join us at the
Working Families Summit
Saturday, May 16, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Scheman Building, Iowa State Campus, Ames, Iowa
FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!
The event features keynote speaker and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.
Also speaking and leading workshops are leading civil and progressive rights advocates including Sarita Gupta, Executive Director, Jobs with Justice; Larry Cohen – President Communications Workers of America (CWA); Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO; Rich Fiesta, Executive Director Alliance for Retired Americans and many Iowa leaders.
Doors open at 9
9 am Registration
(Many organizations will have informational tables so come early and check it out!)
10 am: Summit Begins! Invocation – Speakers – Worker’s Stories – Discussion
11:30 am LUNCH
Workshops: presented twice at 12:30 and 1:30 pm – so you will be able to pick 2!
Common Sense Economics
The State of Latino, Immigrants, and Refugee workers
Wages and Wage Theft
Making Work Family Friendly: Child Care, Paid Medical Leave
Civil Rights and Your Rights
Attacks on Workers
Will I Ever be Able to Retire??
Keynote Address by Robert Reich: Making America Work for the Many, Not Just the Few
Call to Action and Closing
If you want to see change and a better future for the 90 percent of Iowans who are not positively affected by economic gains, come to the summit and find out how to make a difference.
Donations to the Mid Iowa Community Action Food Bank (MICA) will be collected. Suggested items include: Crackers; Soups; Raman Noodles; Rice; Hamburger Helpers; Toilet Paper; Hygiene Products (shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, toothpaste etc.)
GET ON THE BUS: buses will originate in the Quad Cities and Dubuque, with stops along the way in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids (QC Bus), and Waterloo and Cedar Falls (Dubuque Bus), possibly other locations TBD.
To reserve a seat on the bus, call 309-738-3196 or email email@example.com
Availability on a first-come, first-served basis
For more information, contact Sue Dinsdale at firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-354-8116
Updates will be posted on our website: www.IowaCAN.org
And on the Working Families Summit Facebook Page
RSVP online at:
Registration ends May 11
Sponsors include: the AFL-CIO along with many Iowa labor and advocacy organizations focused on concerns for working families in Iowa: the Iowa Federation of Labor; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); Communications Workers of America (CWA); Iowa Postal Workers Union (APWU); Progress Iowa, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC); Iowa State Education Association (ISEA); Iowa Citizen Action Network (ICAN); Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), Laborers International Union of Northern America (LIUNA); Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA); Iowa Policy Project; Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa; Iowa Community Action Association; Iowa Main Street Alliance; Fair Share-Iowa and the American Friends Service Committee.
Sue Dinsdale,Executive Director
Iowa Citizen Action Network (ICAN)
ICAN Education Foundation
1620 Pleasant, Ste. 225
Des Moines, IA 50314
“With the fertilizer plant roughly half finished, half of the 3,000 workers have been fired, through no fault of their own.
Rather than find a way to re-hire those skilled, union workers, the company plans to bus in non-union replacement workers from Texas to finish the job.
Most of the fired workers are Iowans. These Iowans helped pay for these jobs on the front end by providing the tax incentives Governor Branstad handed over to Orascom in the worst economic development deal ever.”
Iowa Leaders Call on Senator Grassley to Hold a Confirmation Hearing for Judge Restrepo
DES MOINES & WATERLOO, IOWA – Iowa leaders today met with Senator Chuck Grassley’s staff in Des Moines and Waterloo to stress the need to hold a confirmation hearing for Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo, and inquired why he is not among those being considered during Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee meeting.
After meeting with Senator Grassley’s staff, a number of local leaders issued statements in advance of tomorrow’s committee hearing:
Sue Dinsdale, Executive Director, Iowa Citizen Action Network:
“When he took over the judiciary committee, Senator Grassley led us all to believe he would not play politics with our courts. Unfortunately, the Senator has let down Iowans and Americans by blocking a number of judicial appointments, including even holding a hearing for Judge Restrepo. We can’t afford to wait any longer while Senator Grassley delays, delays, and delays.”
Matt Sinovic, Executive Director, Progress Iowa:
“If justice delayed is justice denied, then Senator Grassley is responsible for denying justice to far too many across the country. Our courts should be free from political influence, and the kind of petty gamesmanship being shown by Grassley with his refusal to even hold a hearing for Judge Restrepo.”
Chris Schwartz, Director, Americans for Democratic Action Iowa:
“Senator Grassley is building a legacy of obstruction, if he doesn’t hold hearings soon his legacy as an obstructionist will be written in stone.”
Joe Henry, State Director, League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa:
“It’s time for Senator Chuck Grassley to stop holding up the appointment of Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo. This vacancy on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is considered a judicial emergency. Yet Senator Grassley who heads the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has refused to hold a hearing on Judge Restrepo’s appointment even though the judge has the support of the senators from his home state and was unanimously appointed to his current position as a U.S. District judge by the U.S. Senate. Judge Restrepo has provided Senator Grassley with detailed responses to a long list of his questions, and has made many efforts to address any alleged concerns our senator may have. Our court system needs to be adequately staffed, and our government has an opportunity to do that with Judge Restrepo’s appointment. Senator Grassley has only let two of the seven people President Obama nominated to fill judgeships have hearings. Our senator needs to stop playing politics with our judicial branch and let these qualified individuals have their chance before the committee.”
Donna Red Wing, Executive Director, One Iowa:
“Senator Grassley would do well to remember that Judge Restrepo is a respected veteran attorney and judge. Before his appointment to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, he served as a state and federal public defender, a civil rights attorney, and a federal magistrate judge, among other accomplishments. Only two years ago, Judge Restrepo was unanimously confirmed for his seat on the District Court by both the Judiciary Committee and the full Senate. We respectfully ask that Senator Grassley immediately schedule a hearing for Judge Restrepo, and all the other judicial nominees languishing on his watch.”
It has been more than six months since President Obama nominated U.S. District Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Restrepo was born in Columbia, became a citizen in 1993, and earned his degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate to his current post as a judge in the Eastern District just two years ago.
Despite past public statements of support from home state Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, Senator Grassley has refused to hold a confirmation hearing for Restrepo.
Why the holdup on Third Circuit judge nominee?
Long past time to let 3rd circuit nominee Restrepo have his hearing
We can thank Congressmen Dave Loebsack (D-2nd District) and former congressman Tom Latham (R-4th District) who co-sponsored H.R. 1147, the bill that allowed the FCC to license thousands of Low Power FM community radio stations across the country.
“You’re listening to Uptown Bill’s Radio live from Iowa City, Iowa.” Doesn’t that sound great! You can help make it happen.
Uptown Bill’s/Extend the Dream has received a license from the FCC to operate a radio station in Iowa City. In keeping with our mission, this is to be community radio for everyone — for people of all abilities.
Right now, we need to raise $15,000. That will pay for the costs of engineering and equipment to get us on the air.
Our goal is to be broadcasting by the end of the summer. Help us get on the air with a tax-deductible contribution.
Action Alert From Progress Iowa
We need your help to show Governor Branstad he can’t keep ignoring his constituents.
An independent survey released today showed that Iowans oppose his plans to shut down mental health institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant (by a 68-12 margin) and his efforts to privatize Medicaid (by a 52-22 margin).
Unfortunately, Governor Branstad is better known for acting like a self-appointed emperor than for his responsiveness to constituents.
Will you help us spread the word and show how strongly Iowans feel about these issues?
Here’s how you can help:
Click here to share the news on Facebook (you will need to be logged in)
Click here to Tweet about Iowans opposing Branstad’s plans
Shutting down the mental health institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant would be devastating to the patients who need care and their entire communities. And Branstad’s efforts to privatize Medicaid amount to nothing more than a dangerous corporate takeover of health care for more than 500,000 Iowans.
With your help today, we will make sure the Governor, and all Iowans, know how widespread the opposition is to these two dangerous proposals.
Thank you for all you do,
P.S. To read coverage of today’s survey in the Des Moines Register, click here. And be sure to send the story on to your friends and family as well!
House Leadership has “moral obligation” to allow vote on medical cannabis
Prepared remarks by Senator Joe Bolkcom given during floor debate today
I heard today that the Iowa House won’t be back at the statehouse, ready to debate until Wednesday.
Is that really true? I can hardly believe it.
Sick and suffering Iowans are asking for our help. The Iowa Senate has approved a responsible way to get them the medicines they need. And the Republican majority of the Iowa House is taking two days off?
That is appalling. It is shameful. This legislation is the ONLY chance these suffering Iowans have.
Denying them a vote, a vote which would likely be successful, would be cruel and mean-spirited.
Washington is broken on this issue. Washington can’t solve this problem. That’s why 23 states created their own medical cannabis systems. That’s why Iowa should do the same.
Families affected by cancer, MS, Epilepsy, AIDS, PTSD, and other painful, long-term conditions simply want a safe, legal, affordable way to access helpful medicines.
The overwhelming majority of Iowans are ready to help.
This isn’t just any issue. It is a life and death for many of these patients.
If the leadership of the Iowa House wants to deny medicine to Iowans who need it, they should at least have the decency to allow a vote on Senate File 484.
In fact, I believe House leaders have a moral obligation to allow a vote on medical cannabis before this session ends.
Dear Friends –
I spoke with State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann today on my talk show and he announced big news on the Eminent Domain Bill:
Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28th at 12:00 noon in Room 22 of the Iowa State Capitol, a joint House-Senate sub-committee will meet to debate and possibly vote on SSB 1276!
There are three things you can do:
1. COME!! Sub-committee meetings provide one of the few opportunities for average Iowans to speak on and influence legislation directly. I will be there and would love to have a slew of pipeline fighters join me.
2. Share this message and the Facebook Event invite with as many people as possible.
3. Write or call sub-committee members. If you write, carbon copy your own Representative and Senator. To figure out who your Representative and Senator are, and get contact information for them, click Find Your Legislator.
Sub-committee members are:
– Senator Rob Hogg – email@example.com or (515) 281-3371
– Senator Julian Garrett – firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 281-3371
– Senator Brian Schoenjahn – email@example.com or (515) 281-3371
– Representative Bobby Kaufmann – firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 281-3221
– Representative Greg Heartsill – email@example.com or (515) 281-3221
– Representative Mary Wolfe – firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 281-3221
My take is this: The bill needs to be simple and straightforward. All we are saying is that a private, for-profit business that does not provide a public service to Iowans should not be granted the power of eminent domain. My concern is that there is pressure from Big Oil’s friends at the Statehouse to craft a compromise that will weaken this core position.
The bottom line is this: We want the strongest possible bill to come out of sub-committee, as it becomes more difficult to strengthen it later.
Thank you! This is a pivotal moment, and I hope you can take a little time today and tomorrow morning to do what you can. And if at all possible, come to the State Capitol tomorrow (Tuesday) at 12:00 noon!