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Iowa Legislature

Action Alert: Secret GOP Birth Control Ban Being Voted On Today

Action alert from The Iowa Statehouse Progressive Network.  This action alert is still timely today, Wednesday, March 29, because it will be debated today and the committee will vote tonight.  Scroll down for GOP house members to call to stop this restrictive bill from becoming law. The bill will prevent common forms of birth conrol.

***ACTION ALERT: Secret GOP Abortion Bill***

Just minutes before a scheduled committee vote, Republicans dropped (added) a secret plan to prohibit abortion beginning as early as 6 weeks, called “fetal heartbeat”.

Make no mistake about it, House Republicans are pushing this bill through at the last minute for the special interests because they don’t want to hear from Iowans. The House Human Resources Committee is planning to vote on this bill TONIGHT.  (You can read the secret plan here)

We need just two Republicans on the Human Resources Committee to vote with Democrats and help us stop this plan. Can you call these four Republicans right now and tell them to vote NO on the fetal heartbeat amendment to Senate File 471?

·         Rep. Michael Bergan – 563-380-3974 (HD 55)

·         Rep. Dave Heaton – 319-931-4792 (HD 91)

·         Rep. Tom Moore – 515-281-3221 (HD 21)

·         Rep. Rob Taylor – 515-281-3221 (HD 44)

Here’s what we know about this terrible bill so far:

·         It was unveiled just hours ago, but they want to vote on it tonight

·         It appears the amendment will ban common forms of birth control

·         It bans abortion as early as 6 weeks, before many women even know they are pregnant

·         Similar bills have been ruled unconstutional (Arkansas) and vetoed by Republican Governors (Ohio)

Get updates from Iowa House Democrats

Watch GOP Speaker Upmeyer Called Out At Forum

GOP Speaker Called Out on Education

MUST SEE VIDEO: GOP Speaker Upmeyer called out last weekend by her own constituents on education: "That's a lie!" #ialegis

Posted by Iowa House Democrats on Monday, March 27, 2017

Branstad’s Legacy

party before country

Looks like Governor-For-Life Terry Branstad will soon be leaving us on that slow boat to China. Who cares how he gets there as long as he leaves. As he begins to leave we can look back briefly on what shape he is leaving the state in.

We can begin by noting that his successor, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds seems to come from the far right of the Republican Party. She appears to support the ALEC driven legislative agenda this year that has been a disaster for working men and women in Iowa. It would be hard to rate Reynolds as a plus for Iowa as Branstad leaves. At best she gets a neutral rating going in, although there is fear that she may be even further to the right than Branstad.

Looking at how Branstad leaves the state for the future it doesn’t look good. Once more this year education in Iowa took it in the shorts with a only a slight increase in funding. During Branstad’s second round in office, it certainly looks like Iowa schools are getting set up for a big fail. Throughout the Branstad years schools have suffered cuts or only received slight increases. As the legislature and administration starve the perceived public education beast, expect Republicans to start trumpeting the call to privatize our education system.

Funny, it wasn’t that long ago that Iowa had the education system that was the envy of the nation and the world.

The legislature performed a huge coup by throwing out nearly 50 years of a public labor bargaining system that worked extremely well for Iowa. Branstad showed how proud he was by skulking behind closed doors and signing the bill in front of one onlooker. That onlooker had a huge amount invested in getting the unions busted in Iowa. That onlooker was Drew Klein from the Americans For Prosperity a Koch brothers backed lobbying group. Many Iowans felt that had a real stench about it that was once reserved to the hog lots.

On the economic front, it is beginning to look like all those tax cuts that were going to magically grow the economy are not having that effect. Now budget shortfalls seem to be the norm due it seems to ill-advised tax cuts. Couple that with decreasing spending by Iowa consumers that will be happening as the effects of such policies as union-busting and rolling back local minimum wage increases take effect. When Iowans aren’t buying, sales tax takes a dive.

Then there is of course one of Branstad’s signature achievements, Medicaid privatization. Taking from the sick, elderly, invalid and poor and giving to wealthy insurance company. He did so unilaterally while his buddies in the legislature blocked any attempts by Democrats to stop this move. Moving something like 10% of money that used to be used for patient care to go to “administrative companies” was a stroke of Republican genius. The Des Moines Register had a featured story about how necessary medical help is only a secondary concern to these administrative companies

And then there is Orascom. The development of the fertilizer plant near Wever, Iowa. When the whole program was announced it came with an astounding cost for Iowa tax payers. Maybe we could use some of that money now for our schools. From Peter Fisher at the Iowa Policy Project back in the fall of 2012:

The latest: Today the board of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) is scheduled to consider sweetening its already generous offer to Orascom — $35 million to build a $1.3 billion fertilizer plant in Lee County — to about $110 million with a slew of new tax credits. As The Des Moines Register points out today, that’s $110 million for 165 “permanent” jobs paying on average $48,000 a year, plus construction jobs that will be gone when the project is finished.

The state tax credits are in addition to the enormous benefit the state is providing by allocating federal tax-exempt flood recovery bonds to this project. If the interest rate difference — between taxable and tax-exempt bonds — were 1 percentage point, the company would save $320 million in interest payments over the life of the $1.2 billion bond. That would bring the firm’s total benefits to $2.7 million per permanent job, a truly astounding number. Even without considering the federal interest subsidy, the state tax credits would total $687,500 per job, many times the typical level of subsidy in deals such as this.

Funny we don’t see much about Orascom anymore. Yesterday’s news, I guess.

So you have it, the Branstad legacy. Starving schools – almost forgot to mention the number the regents have done on Iowa’s state universities, especially the U of Iowa; voter suppression; unions busted and earnings suppressed; a state budget that seems set up to spell doom for safety net programs; a medicaid system set up to benefit not the consumer, but those who run it and some deals made in the past that will continue to cost Iowans into the future.

Let me add the highways continue to get rougher and rougher and cities like Des Moines face severe water problems that the state will not let be addressed.

The unemployment figures he touts as his success has more to do with the economy as a whole in the country and little to do with tax policies or giveaways to business. Iowa’s unemployment is low since the country is low thanks in great measure to policies of the Obama Administration. However, policies that cut customers for businesses coupled with current administration policies that will hurt agriculture may really hurt Iowa.

Colin Gordon: What’s The Matter With Iowa?

Gov. Branstad shakes hands with Drew Klein after Branstad signs union busting bill

U of Iowa Professor Colin Gordon wrote a story in Dissent Magazine that many of us have been wondering about out loud. That is simply “What’s The Matter With Iowa?”

Following perhaps the strangest election ever in Iowa, Republicans took control of both branches of the legislature thus giving them total control of Iowa’s government.

Despite not running on issues such as busting unions and voter suppression, those are the issues that the legislature immediately went to work on. As bills passed, Governor Branstad quickly signed them.

From Gordon’s article:

“Consider Iowa. In November, the Republicans gained two seats in the statehouse (increasing their majority to 59-41) and six seats in the state senate—flipping control from 25-23 Democratic to 29-20 Republican. In recent years, Republican aspirations and priorities in the state—the usual medley of tax cuts, privatization, and starvation of the public sector—have been clear enough, as has the role of the senate in blocking passage of the nastiest and craziest legislative proposals. But no one fully anticipated how quickly and dramatically the new trifecta would act. The battle in Wisconsin unfolded over months after Walker took office in 2011. In Iowa it was more like a bomb was dropped; three weeks into the legislative session, the damage was done.

The first blow was House File 291, a gutting of public-sector collective bargaining that was unveiled February 7 and signed by the governor ten days later. As in most states, Iowa’s public-sector bargaining law was a bipartisan bargain struck in the early 1970s, which raised pay and labor standards for public workers (especially teachers) in exchange for an effective no-strike pledge. The new public-employee relations code outdoes even Wisconsin in dismantling this bargain. Bargaining is now limited to “base wages,” with annual increases limited to 3 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. All other contract details—health care, pensions, working conditions—are off the table. Public-sector unions must win a recertification vote before each new contract (every two to three years). To twist that knife, the law requires the union to win a majority of workers in the bargaining unit (not just those voting) and it requires for the union to pay for the election. And unions are now barred from collecting dues through payroll deduction, a practice that was already voluntary.

If the pace and scope of this legislative putsch is jaw-dropping, so too is the absence of any plausible connection between the challenges faced by the state and the solutions offered. Low commodity prices have trimmed state revenues over the last year, but the fiscal pressures animating attacks on the public sector, labor standards, and public education are almost entirely manufactured. A sweeping cut to commercial property taxes in 2013 slashed over $300 million from this year’s revenues. Business tax credits cost the state another $275 million—a large chunk of which are refundable credits paid out to the state’s largest corporations (the state paid defense contractor Rockwell Collins over $12 million for doing business in Iowa last year)”.

Gordon then notes that the laws that Republicans are enacting have nearly nothing to do with needs in Iowa. Instead almost all of the new laws are driven from outside by groups associated with the Koch brothers, especially ALEC. Gordon then concludes:

The ALEC/AFP fingerprints are not hard to discern. None of Iowa’s GOP legislators campaigned on this agenda. The ink was dry on the forty-two-page collective bargaining bill—a mash-up of longstanding ALEC language—before freshman legislators were given their codes to the copy machine. Public support for this and other measures (save a bit of astroturfing by AFP) was glaringly absent in charade of hearings that preceded their passage. And, tellingly, Governor Branstad put his pen to the collective bargaining bill not at a public event, but in a private ceremony for the benefit of the State’s AFP lobbyist.

This is a must read article for all serious scholars of just what is causing the phenomena of harsh anti-union, anti-women, anti-consumer legislation that is popping up across the country in state legislature after state legislature. Gordon notes that what happened in Kansas and what is happening here in Iowa is simply the old “bait-and-switch.” Campaign on issues that have popular support and then when power is achieved simply enact the legislation of those who paid to put your group in power.


This Weekend Legislative Forums

Saturday March 25, 10 AM
Allison Amvets Building, 718 9th st


Saturday, March 25 : 8:45
“Legislative Wake Up” with Story County Area Legislators at Ames City Council Chambers, 515 Clark Ave, 2nd Floor.

Saturday March 25: Noon

Renewable Energy Group, 416 Bell Ave

Saturday March 25: 9 AM
Bellevue City Hall, 106 North 3rd St.

Saturday March 25: Noon
Ranco Centinela 102 South Madison St.

Saturday, March 25: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Legislative Forum with Senator Mark Segebart & Representative Brian Best: DMACC, 906 N Grant Rd, Carroll

Saturday March 25: 9 AM
North Iowa Area Community College, 203 Brantingham St.

Saturday March 25: 10 AM
Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum 122 West Clark St.

Saturday March 25: 10 AM
Colfax Public Library, 25 West Division St.

Saturday, March 25: 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
Legislative Coffee with Council Bluffs Area Legislators at Wilson Middle School, in the Auditorium, 715 N 21st Street.

Saturday, March 25: 10 a.m.-noon
Legislative Forum with Scott County Area Legislators at St. Ambrose University in the Rogalski Center, 518 W. Locust


Monday March 27: 8 AM

Grounds for Celebration, 2645 Beaver Ave.

Monday March 27 : 8 AM

Hy-Vee 3330 ML King Parkway

Tuesday March 28: 6:30 PM

DMPS Central Campus, 1800 Grand Ave.

Saturday March 25: 8:30 AM
Iowa Central Community College, Triton Cafe, 1 Triton Circle

Saturday March 25: 9 AM
Frist Street Grille, 719 1st St.

Saturday March 25 : 10 AM
Logan Community Center, 108 West 4th St.


Saturday March 25: 9 AM
Legislative Forum, Maquoketa City Hall, 201 E Pleasant Dt. Maquoketa

Saturday March 25: 1 PM
ISU Extension Office, 101 North Polk

Saturday, March 25: 8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
Mount Pleasant Legislative Forum at Iowa Wesleyan University in the Chadwick Library, 107 W. Broad Street.

Saturday, March 25: 8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
“Legislative Wake Up” with Story County Area Legislators in the City Council Chambers of Nevada City Hall, 1209 6th St.

Saturday March 25: 8 Am
South Slope Cooperative Comm. 980 N Front St.
Legislative Forum with Johnson County Area Legislators at North Liberty City Hall, 3 Quail Creek Circle.

Saturday, March 25: 8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.
Oskaloosa Eggs & Issues at Smokey Row, 109 S Market Street.

Saturday March 25: 8 AM
Forster Community Center, 404 Main st.

Saturday March 25: 8 AM
Shenandoah Fire Station, 400 West Sheridan Ave

Saturday March 25: 10 AM
Sioux City Public Museum, 607 4th st.

Saturday March 25: 10:30 AM
Drive with Cops Training Room, 2900 Justin Dr, Ste 1.

Saturday March 25: 8 AM
Westside Legion Hall, 316 Lincoln Hwy.

Saturday March 25: 9 AM
Farmers and Merchants State Bank, 101 West Jefferson St.

Republicans Shell The Democratic Party

Polling Place

“The objective is to destroy the coherence of the enemy’s defense, to fragment and isolate enemy units in the zone of attack, and to secure operationally decisive objectives.” U.S. Army Field Manual No. 3-09.22

The political battlefield changed during the first session of the 87th Iowa General Assembly. Democratic efforts to hold the line while in the minority have been difficult at best. One distasteful bill after another has been signed into law by the governor.

On Dec. 1, 2016 I wrote, “The current Iowa Democratic Party should be completely blown up — new people, new office, new strategy, new tactics, new everything.”

I still believe that, although Iowa Republicans are doing some of that work without us. They are doing everything they can to weaken the Democratic hand in 2018 and beyond.

The swing toward Trump and more general Republican values has been an eye opener. What worked in 2006, the last time Democrats elected a governor, won’t work now. The good news is people who were not politically engaged before 2016 are getting involved in protecting what’s left of Democratic values in government — even if the horse is out of the barn.

The General Assembly has devolved into the majority saying, “f*ck you we’re doing whatever the hell we want.” The debate about bills seems mostly among Republicans. Egregious bills restructuring Iowa’s politic landscape are too numerous for a short post. I’ll mention just one: House File 516

While a majority of Iowans support use of identification at polling places, if passed by the senate, HF516 may impact marginal voters in Iowa who either don’t have an ID or are discouraged from participating in the process. Democrats have relied on those votes in the past. The bill passed the House on March 9. The Senate companion bill, Senate Study Bill 1163 passed subcommittee March 1. The bills are solutions looking for a problem.

“There is the ‘fake’ problem of ‘fake’ people casting votes – it is simply not a problem in Iowa,” Iowa Senate Minority Leader Robb Hogg said in in his 2017 opening day remarks at the state capitol. “People aren’t risking severe criminal penalties to cast an illegal vote. We don’t need government barriers to voting in Iowa. Voting is a fundamental right.”

“The fact is voter ID laws are intended to suppress the vote of the elderly and disabled, people who are home bound and/or do not normally drive,”  the Iowa Democratic Party posted on their web site.

These arguments miss the point. Under the guise of “election integrity” Secretary of State Paul Pate is working to adopt a nationwide agenda to create conditions more favorable for people to vote for Republican candidates. Republican operatives believe they do better in elections when the electorate is constricted. With less voters, their minority views on almost everything have the potential to dominate our elected offices and the legislative agenda. To my point, they are doing that now, without a Voter ID law. Any Voter ID law signed by the governor will force Democrats to develop a new playbook for future campaigns.

The Democratic Central Committee elected political consultant Derek Eadon as chair on Jan. 21. I met him during the 2007 Obama campaign. He seems like a decent guy. A lot is resting on Eadon’s shoulders as Iowa Republicans won the 2016 presidential contest by 9.6 points, and took control of the Iowa legislature.

If and when a Voter ID bill becomes law Democrats will have to adjust. What is more concerning is the Republican artillery barrage has only just begun. They control the legislature now and will until the 88th Iowa General Assembly begins in January 2019. People say the second session of a general assembly is less toxic but I don’t believe that — not now, not ever. Conventional ideas about politics flew out the window last year.

It rots to be in a defensive position. The key to maintaining viability as a party is to hunker down, let the shells fall where they will, and rebuild. It is incumbent upon the new party leadership to focus not only on people who register to vote as Democrats, but to build an electorate that supports our candidates.

For now, Democrat activists resist, constituents should contact legislators, and, if Eadon and his leadership team are worth their salt, rebuild our defenses to conduct a counter attack to recapture the legislature. This is possible, indeed likely over time. Time is the one commodity in short supply for Democrats as Republicans reshape the political landscape.

Sen. Dvorsky: Johnson County Target Of Voter ID Bill

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Repairing What Republicans Break May Be Impossible

“Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Til it’s gone
They pave paradise and put up a parking lot”
Joni Mitchell “Big Yellow Taxi”

Who knows what people who voted Republican in the last election were thinking. One thing I doubt they were thinking about was how to repair the systems that the radical Republicans who are now in charge at all levels will destroy.

Maybe those voters sent out a protest vote to let other Americans know that they ‘weren’t going to take it anymore.” What they most likely were thinking was that Republicans were going to stand against progress made by immigrants and minorities. What they didn’t realize was that they what they got in the bargain was a party hell-bent on destroying much of the progress that had been achieved for ALL Americans in the past century.

That would include a litany of progressive programs that many Republican voters are now watching circle the drain. As they see the radical congress and state legislature take the hatchet to things like education, social security, the ACA, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, workman’s compensation not to mention many things that are integral to the commons such as environmental protection, national parks, research of all varieties, weather forecasting and data gathering just to name a few. Now it appears even “Meals on Wheels” that many seniors depend on to survive is on the chopping block.

All for tax cuts for the rich.

Once these programs are destroyed or radically altered restoring them to their former functionality will not be as simple as electing members from the opposition party and then expecting them to put things right back the way they were. No, once broken it will take decades to restore things if it is even possible.

We have the recent example of the major recession, near worldwide depression caused by fiscal mismanagement by the Republican Party. Conventional wisdom would make a person think that restoring the economy to it’s previous state and providing safeguards to keep us from being driven into such a situation again should have been the number one priority of both parties.

Yet following the Republican recession of 2008, Republicans let it be known that they were vested in keeping the economy as sluggish as they could through their opposition to any and all efforts of Democrats and the Obama Administration to enact programs to address problems that many Americans were facing.

Even during the Great Depression – also brought on by Republican policies – Republicans in congress opposed most everything that the FDR Administration attempted to pull the country out of the Depression.

If Republicans respond to the clear and present crises of severe Recessions and Depressions with obstruction tactics created out of thin air, what would make a person think that they would do anything but obstruct the restoration of anything resembling that which they worked so hard to destroy?

Republicans have worked hard for over eight decades to tear down the New Deal. They have spent the nearly four decades since Ronald Reagan not only working to chip away at anything that helped common Americans, but at the same time undermining the very foundation of our democracy – the faith in our government and ourselves.

As we watch the administration and congress in Washington and the legislature in Des Moines take proverbial sledge hammers to what has taken decades to build, remember that is it much easier to destroy a life’s work than it is to build it. Once this is gone it will most likely never be restored unless resistance is tong and unflinching before it is torn down.

“And all the king’s horses
And all the king’s men
Could not put Humpty-Dumpty
Back together again.”

IPP And Senator Dvorsky On The Budget Shortfall

Last Monday Mike Owen the Executive Director of the Iowa Policy Project and Research Director Peter Fisher gave a presentation at the Moral Monday meeting March 13th.

This video is about 40 minutes long. It is all very self-explanatory except for the reference to “REC” in the beginning. REC in this instance means “Revenue Estimating Commission” I believe. This is the second estimation that predicted a major shortfall in revenue. You may recall the first one resulted in across the board cuts.

IPP and its partner have been discussing this possibility for years.

When the news out of Des Moines doesn’t seem to add up despite the assertions of Republican politicians, the Iowa Policy Project is the place to turn to for analysis that breaks through the crap and tells the truth.

Times should be far from disastrous right now. As Barack Obama left office he left behind a robust economy. When states like Iowa and Kansas are having fiscal problems in good general economies most likely the wounds are self inflicted.

Senator Dvorsky

In his weekly newsletter Senator Bob Dvorsky had this observation on the budget shortfall:


Iowa has a revenue problem that must be addressed. The latest evidence came this week when Iowa’s Revenue Estimating Conference, a panel of nonpartisan budget experts, met to assess state revenues and expenses. They reported that Iowa has a shortfall of $131 million this fiscal year, which ends June 30; and less growth than expected for the fiscal year that starts on July 1.

This announcement comes on the heels of prior midyear budget cuts totaling nearly $118 million. To address the last shortfall, legislative Republicans pushed through a massive de-appropriation that hurt our regent’s institutions and community colleges by stripping them of $20 million. That cut also took millions out of the Department of Corrections, the Department of Public Safety and the Judicial Branch, which has a direct impact on safety for all Iowans. Fortunately, the decision has been made to use the “rainy day fund” for the current shortfall — a reserve that the state has for situations just like this budget shortfall and the last one.

With budget shortfalls like these, it is time we work in a bipartisan fashion to realign our budget with what is good for Iowa. In 2018 alone, the State of Iowa is projected to give out almost $70 million to major corporations via one tax credit, the Research Activities Credit or RAC. That is money that could be used to benefit all Iowans, not just large corporations. Senate Democrats stand ready to work with legislative Republicans and the Branstad-Reynolds Administration to restore fiscal stability to our state budget by investing in local schools and job-creation initiatives, and re-examining out-of-control spending on tax credits.

We must make commonsense decisions that balance the state budget and grow Iowa’s economy.

What Is Going On In The Iowa Legislature?

Senator Bolkcom’s comment is part of a discussion following a constituent question. “Who wants school vouchers?” at the Johnson County legislative forum February 25, 2017.