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Iowa Legislature

What To Write? What To Write?

about 30 seconds:

This blog is a labor of love. A chance many folks don’t get to give a perspective on things that others may not have thought about. But trying to decide what stories to comment on is very hard. Ideas pass through my mind all week before I finally sit down to gather my thoughts into something coherent and worthy of your time.

This week has been especially tough. The coming election and the outsized candidacy of Trump and his constant hate machine spewing vileness all over the place is hard to ignore. I think most on the left given the chance could go for hours on Trump and how he has divided America and rekindled hate that seemed to be slowly, very slowly dying. No doubt folks would tire of anti-Trump rants as much as they have tired of Trump himself.

The Clinton campaign has offered some uplifting messages of inclusion, some great ideas of solutions to real problems that real Americans face daily and a candidate who has been tested in trying role after trying role. Sadly our media only follows the train wrecks and car chases. Inspirational messages and inspiring leadership is not a car chase. So once again Democrats across the country can barely even get covered by their local radio stations.

————————————

I should be talking more about Iowa legislative races. They are extremely important this year simply because Terry Branstad and his one man assumption of power needs to be squelched. His takeover of the Medicaid administration, the line item vetoes on educational spending, his unilateral closing of the mental health facilities, his squandering of state dollars on Orascom and many lesser manifestations of his disdain for our form of government must be stopped in his last couple of years.

We need to put the legislature in the hands of Democrats. At a minimum we need to keep at least the senate in Democratic hands. If control is shifted to Republicans in both houses with Branstad as governor, we can expect a headlong rush into becoming the next Kansas or Wisconsin. Both of those states have seen budgets drained to give huge tax cuts to the rich causing schools to close and jobs to go elsewhere. Both are considered to be Republican success stories because the rich are getting richer and everyone else is getting screwed.

———————————————————

How about the environment? As I write it is a Friday morning in late September and the overnight low temperature is warmer than the average daily high should be. The temperature is much more like late July or early August. The earth has just come off the two hottest months ever. The year will be, unless a sudden ice age breaks out, the hottest ever by far. Yet our congress sits hogtied thanks to bribes, yes bribes, from the fossil fuel industries. Congress critters like Grassley, King, Blum and Young are more than happy to sell off our lives for a few silver shekels.

Even as torrential rains flood northern Iowa and make it difficult to get crops in, Republicans deny, deny, deny climate change handhold their hands out.

——————————————————————————

Republicans claim to be the party of foreign policy. Mike Pence says Dick Cheney is his role model. Hey, Pence, two words about Cheney: “Valerie Plame.” Maybe Pence just admires the way Cheney made hundreds of millions as his (Cheney’s) company (Haliburton) scored major government contracts due to the war (Iraq) that Cheney helped start. For a Republican that must be admirable.

——————————————————————

Another morning that I turn on WSUI as we breakfast. Two minutes in and I am wondering if I am listening to FOX and shut it off. NPR anymore sounds like a stenographer for Republicans. Nothing else in my range is worth listening to. So the demise of NPR makes all the radios I own worthless. We already have one internet radio. Looks like we will need another soon. Hopefully low power FM KICI will be starting up soon, but we may be too far out to get them over the air.

——————————————————————

The chances of being killed by the dreaded refugee terrorist? 1 in 3.64 billion. The chances of getting killed by almost any other means is far greater. I am not telling you to not be scared of getting killed by a refugee terrorist. What I am telling you is that if you are scared of the refugee terrorist then you should hide yourself in a closet, roll into a ball and shiver from fear because so many things in daily life are more likely to kill you. And demand your Republican candidate protect you from the dangers of guns, water, electricity and all the other killers out there.

———————————————————

And once more, working people have been snookered out of real discussions on income inequality. From the early days of this campaign when an old guy from Vermont caught fire talking about real life economic issues to today when the corporate owned and controlled media have all but disappeared the issue. Clinton adopted many of Bernie Sanders positions on economic issues but even when she makes a major economic address our media ignores it and concentrates on her health, bogus email story or bogus charity story.

Our media also pretends that Trump has economic policies that will help workers when in truth his policies make current conditions much worse for workers. Lesson? People are easily fooled.

————————————————————

Lastly, once more we are seeing the effects of money, money, money. Money = power = bad policies. It is a never ending cycle. It is depressing. I have never heard of a solution for this that won’t be reject by those in power and who have the money to buy power. Very depressing.

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Early voting starts Thursday. We plan our biennial trip to the county courthouse to vote that day. I do not want to take any chance that one of us will be sick or get called out of town or any one of a number things that may cause us to miss voting on November 8th. This one is too important.

And…. Progress Iowa puts up a website to help voters find out how to vote early.

video – 30 seconds:

Progress Iowa Asks Legislators: Do You Support Trump?


(Keith Olbermann returns with twice weekly commentary on GQ until the election – 17 minutes)

Progress Iowa asked Iowa legislators whether or not supported Republican nominee Donald Trump in this election. Why should this be an issue in state races?

They explain the reasoning in this news release:

Which Iowa Republican Legislators Stand With Trump?

Progress Iowa Calls On Republicans To Clarify Their Position On Their Party’s Nominee, Launches New Website: dotheystandwithtrump.com

Des Moines, Iowa – With the Republican Party nominating one of the most divisive, bigoted candidates for president of all time, Progress Iowa believes it is important to know whether Iowa Republicans stand with Donald Trump this year. While Republican leaders like Terry Branstad, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst have embraced Trump, many state legislators have been notably quiet on the topic.

So we asked them. In late August Progress Iowa emailed every Iowa legislator, asking them whether they stand with Donald Trump’s candidacy. We compiled their responses on our new website, www.dotheystandwithtrump.com.

“Many Iowa Republicans were apparently too afraid to respond to our very simple question of whether they support their presidential nominee,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “We believe Iowans deserve to know if their legislator supports Donald Trump, a man who has repeatedly made racist, xenophobic and misogynistic statements.”

All Democratic state senators and representatives were confirmed as opposing Trump’s candidacy, as provided by a statement by their caucus. Only one Republican representative, Ralph Watts of Adel, responded, but did not clearly state whether he supported Trump or not. David Johnson was marked as opposing Trump due to his past statements.

Concerned voters can use Progress Iowa’s new website to further ask their local legislator whether or not they support Trump for President:
www.dotheystandwithtrump.com.

Pretty well lays it out. What is amazing is that nearly 100% of Republican legislators refused to respond. Makes you wonder why you should vote for them for state leadership positions when they are too scared to answer whether or not they support a person whose personal qualities are such that most folks would not hire him as counter help in their business.

So Republican Iowa legislators fear to respond because if they do they will alienate one of two groups. Should they respond and say they don’t support Trump, they could easily alienate the racist, misogynist and xenophobic voters that are the core of Trump’s support.

Should they respond and say they do support Trump they admit they support his divisive rhetoric and the constant lies. Supporting Trump should alienate those who believe that the character of the leader is their most important asset. Trump comes up woefully short in this aspect.

By not answering they should alienate both camps. Donald Trump’s character is one of the very central issues of this campaign. Do you believe we should have a person who is a bully, a racist, a misogynist , a xenophobe, who facts are often based on internet rumors and who makes decisions not based on reality but on gut feelings? If you can’t answer that question, it tells most people that you yourself are unwilling to make decisions that may be tough.

The Republican party selected Trump to lead their party. Why are Iowa Republican legislators afraid to say whether they support him?

Remember that David Johnson of Ocheydon faced reality and put his country first when he stated back in June that he would not support Trump. Why is it so difficult for other Republican legislators to stand up and repudiate such behavior? Would they not correct such behavior in their children or would they encourage it?

Iowa Senate Democrats Hold Hearings On Medicaid Mess

Iowa Capitol

Iowa Capitol

Who can forget what a huge hurry Gov. Branstad was in to turn Medicaid administration over to privatized companies last summer and fall despite warnings that the companies were in no way ready. He couldn’t wait to hand out taxpayer money over to his cronies. Now we are approximately 4 months into Branstad’s ridiculous experiment in taking something that works and making it not work.

This may be what Republicans call a success, but for thousands of Iowans including hundreds of providers it is a disaster. These are real people we are talking about who have pain and who have medical conditions that need attending to. But to Republicans they just seem to be part of their social experiment of making a buck off of everything.

Here are the videos of the hearings held in Des Moines Monday August 29th. They are long but quite informative:

1) Listening Post part 1 (60 minutes)

2) Listening Post part 2 (51 minutes)

3) Oversight Hearing part 1 (58 minutes) – Actual meeting starts @8 minutes in.


Note: Documents mentioned in this video can be found at https://www.legis.iowa.gov/committees…

4) Oversight Hearing part 2 (2 hours 35 minutes)

Iowa Democratic State Senators Holding Hearings On Medicaid System.

Iowa Capitol

Iowa Capitol

Below are four reminders on upcoming Medicaid happenings.

We hope you find this information helpful.

You can follow our Medicaid efforts at www.senate.iowa.gov/democrats/Medicaid.

–Iowa Senate Democrats Staff

P.S. If you know somebody who’d like to receive these updates on Iowa Medicaid, they can subscribe at www.senate.iowa.gov/democrats/medicaid/subscribe.

***********************************************************************
1. Medicaid listening post is Monday morning at the Statehouse.

Many Iowans have signed up to share their experiences with Iowa’s transition to private Medicaid at a listening post on Monday, Aug. 29. This meeting will run from 9:30 to 11:30 AM in room 116. Medicaid members and providers will have three minutes to tell their stories to legislators and the public.

The meeting will be livestreamed at bit.ly/IowaSenateLive and available to view later at www.youtube.com/user/iowasenate.

2. The “Health Policy Oversight Committee” meets Monday afternoon at the Statehouse.

The Legislature’s “Health Policy Oversight Committee” will meet on Monday, Aug. 29, in Room 103 from 12:30 to 4:30 PM. The meeting will provide updates on Iowa’s transition to private Medicaid (including public input, billing, payments and more) from the Department of Human Services, the Medical Assistance Advisory Committee and Managed Care Organizations.

The meeting will be livestreamed at bit.ly/IowaSenateLive and available to view later at www.youtube.com/user/iowasenate.

3. DHS is hosting public input meetings on Medicaid.

The Iowa Department of Human Services is holding public listening sessions on Iowa Health Link, the state’s new managed care program. The schedule for upcoming sessions is listed below. For more information, go to https://dhs.iowa.gov/iahealthlink/IHL-Public-Comment-Meetings.

Date Time City Venue
September 14, 3 to 5 p.m. Waterloo Hawkeye Community College
Tama Hall Room 102
1501 E. Orange Rd.
Waterloo, IA 50704

October 11, 3 to 5 p.m. Sioux City Western Iowa Tech Community College
Cargill Auditorium (D103)
4647 Stone Ave.
Sioux City, IA 51106

November 17, 3 to 5 p.m. Ottumwa Bridge View Center
Room C4 & C5
102 Church St.
Ottumwa, IA 52501

December 7, 3 to 5 p.m. Des Moines Des Moines Central Library
Meeting Room
1000 Grand Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50309

4. Annual provider training sessions.

The 2016 Annual Provider Training through the Iowa Department of Human Services will focus on the IA Health Link transition to managed care. Training sessions will be facilitated by the Iowa Medicaid Enterprise and will include representatives from the three MCOs.

The free provider education sessions will be offered in 11 communities throughout the state, with Professional and Institutional training in the mornings. Afternoon training will be for Long Term Care and Home & Community-Based Services.

The MCOs will present information on subjects of interest based on provider feedback. Each session will include an update from IME, followed by detailed presentations from the MCOs, and a question and answer time. Each MCO will have staff available before and after to answer individual questions from providers.

The schedule for upcoming sessions is listed below. Space is limited. For complete details and to register, go to https://dhs.iowa.gov/ime/Providers/tools-trainings-and-services/ATRegistration/APT2016

Date City Venue
8/29/2016 – Mason City – Northern Iowa Area Community College

8/30/2016 – Storm Lake – Buena Vista University

8/31/2016 – Cedar Rapids- Kirkwood Community College

9/1/2016 – Waterloo – Hawkeye Community College

9/6/2016 – Dubuque – Grand River Center

9/7/2016 – Ottumwa – Bridge View Center

9/8/2016 – Burlington – Burlington Memorial Auditorium

9/12/2016 – Sioux City – Sioux City Convention Center

9/13/2016 – Council Bluffs – Iowa Western Community College

9/14/2016 – Bettendorf – Scott Community College

Board Of Regents Mess Typical For Branstad Administration

King Terry the first

For the second time in two years one of Iowa’s major universities is looking for a new president. After last year’s fiasco in the hiring of businessman Bruce Herrald to head the University of Iowa three Democratic state senators have stepped up to try to step in before the Board of Regents derails the normal process as they did last year.

UNI President Bill Ruud announced he was leaving speculation immediately began on whether filling his post would be another adventure in railroading in a hand picked replacement rather than going through the normal competitive process for picking a replacement. Iowa deserves to have the best leaders it can get for its major colleges. That can only happen through a true competitive process that the Board of regents short circuited in last year’s hiring.

State senators Jeff Danielson of Cedar Falls, where UNI is located, Brian Schoenjahn of Arlington and Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids have stepped up to remind the Board of Regents that the process is supposed to be conducted in the open and is to be competitive.

Once again we have a Branstad set of appointees ignoring the rules and going off their own way. What’s to stop them? There seems to be little if any consequence to ignoring rules and laws if you’re a member of the Branstad administration. Total lack of accountability. Anybody remember when Republicans preached accountability from sunrise to sunset? That wasn’t meant for them just you and I average folks.

Over at the Des Moines Register, Christopher Martin penned a scathing editorial on the Board of Regents lack of accountability. Martin lays out the cronyism involved in the current Board of regents in a very clear way:

* According to Politico, Rastetter recruited Terry Branstad for his return run for governor in 2010 and was his top donor at more than $160,000. The year after Branstad’s election, Rastetter got his six-year appointment to the board.

* State law requires that not more than five of the nine members of the Iowa Board of Regents be from the same political party. The board’s “current mix of five Republicans, three independents, and one Democrat on the board,” meets the legal requirements, but does little to dispel the appearance of intentional partisanship.

* As a regent, Rastetter partnered with ISU to develop land in Tanzania that would have benefited his company. ISU dropped out of the project in 2012 “in the face of mounting criticism,” the AP reported.

* The board hired Bruce Harreld, the least qualified of University of Iowa presidential candidates. The hiring process, which favored Harreld and lacked transparency, is now subject to at least two lawsuits.


This whole article is well worth a couple of readings to fully digest the crap and corruption going on in the Board of Regents.

Unfortunately this is only another log on the fire of corruption and usurpation of power that has come to be the cornerstone of the current Branstad stint in office. Cutting budgets for our (yes our) public school system; cutting money to feed the needy; closing the juvenile school at Tama without following rules and then doing the same with Iowa’s mental health facilities at Mount Pleasant and Clarinda; privatizing our Medicaid system and doing so in such a hurry that it is creating a crisis of health care for its clients and suppliers.

Speaking of the privatization – let us say rather profitization – of Medicaid, once again Democratic state senators are trying to jump in to mitigate the damage being done by Branstad’s out of control administration.

Another hearing is scheduled for next Monday, August 29th. If you know anyone who has been involved in the medicaid transition mess, please contact the senate committee conducting the hearing using the form on this web page.

We will publish a reminder next week of this committee meeting.

When you hear politicians talking about corruption and cronyism one need only cast their eyes to Des Moines. Iowa was once the very epitome of what good government meant. Today we are just one of many states run by Republican governors whose goal seems to be to funnel as much money and power to his buddies as he can while in office. We are fortunate that Iowa has a Democratic senate or it would be much worse. One only need cast their eyes to Wisconsin or Kansas to get an idea what damage can be doe with both houses of the legislature controlled by Republicans coupled with a Republican governor.

There is only one way to stop Branstad’s power grab – that is by voting. Vote out those who support such corruption, vote in those who oppose it. In this year’s election that is as easy as red and blue. Republicans support Branstad in these endeavors whereas Democrats will oppose him as noted in the two instances above.

Democratic State Senators To Hold Medicaid Hearings

Iowa Capitol

Iowa Capitol

On Monday, August 29, Iowans can share their experiences with Medicaid privatization with legislators from 9:30 to 11:30 AM in Room 103 at the Iowa Statehouse.

To participate, sign up using this online form: http://interspire.iowasdc.info/surveys.php?id=31

Speakers will have three minutes to tell legislators and the public about their experiences. The meeting will be livestreamed at http://bit.ly/IowaSenateLive.

The listening post is sponsored by the Democratic members of the Legislature’s Health Policy Oversight Committee. The entire committee will meet later that day from 12:30 to 4:30 PM in that same room.

Health Policy Oversight Committee meets Aug. 29
During the 2015 session of the Iowa Legislature, a compromise between the House and Senate created the “Health Policy Oversight Committee.” On Monday, August 29, this committee will meet in Room 103 at the Iowa Statehouse from 12:30 to 4:30 PM.

Here’s the agenda: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/committees/meetings/agenda?meetingID=20356

The meeting will be livestreamed at http://bit.ly/IowaSenateLive.

Health care providers say Medicaid privatization means fewer services, higher costs
A new survey has found Iowa Medicaid providers are still struggling with Governor Branstad’s privatization plan, which began earlier this year.

Providers say the privatization plan has led to increased costs, has reduced services for clients, and has even forced them to borrow money because they are not being paid on time.

Read more at: http://iowahouse.org/provider-survey/

Video of the July 26 meeting of the Senate Human Resources Committee

Complete morning session: https://youtu.be/EZdFJm_xZlA
Complete afternoon session: https://youtu.be/zRyvv3gRcY8
Documents mentioned in this meeting can be found at: http://bit.ly/Iowa-Senate-Youtube-Documents
The information for each video includes a list of speakers and direct links to their comments.

Let’s Leave The 4th Of July On The 4th Of July

dog with ears covered 2July 4th has always been my favorite holiday – parades, music festivals, picnics, the feeling of patriotism, community fireworks displays that everyone comes out for; it’s the highlight of summer.

But I also recognize that the holiday is not pure delight for everyone.  It is in fact a nightmare for many. Veterans with PTSD can suffer, as random booms often re-activate memories of combat trauma. Even non-veterans can find it hard to endure the intrusiveness of the sounds of explosions as nearby as next door. Many dog owners are stressed and dread the holiday because some dogs shake with fear, hide in bathtubs, or under beds for the duration. More dogs go missing on July 4th than any other time of year. One person I know spent the weekend in a motel to get away from the noise. Many people I talked to suffered through the weekend and spoke of the fireworks getting more out of control every year.

Because it is just one weekend a year, it is more or less tolerable. But what if we had fireworks stores on every corner, resulting in random pops and booms in our neighborhoods any time of day or night, any day of the week, all year round? What about losing the ability to count on peace and quiet in our own homes?  Some like to pass this off as a minor issue, but quality of life would be negatively affected in addition to the safety issues involved.

If the Iowa legislature legalizes fireworks, we will not simply be able to un-do the law later. Mom and Pop stores would spring up in every town across the state and soon there would be people whose livelihoods depend on selling these useless, dangerous explosives of no value to anyone. If we need to establish a new economic industry, couldn’t it be something of actual value that contributes to the common good, instead of an obnoxious activity that is (coincidentally) compatible with excessive alcohol consumption?

One link in the DMReg. story below is to an article in which a person said they buy the explosives basically to terrify birds. Let’s not invite more ugliness to the state of Iowa. If you really, really need to have personal explosive devices, make the trip to Missouri. It’s probably a fun tradition. Or have a friend bring some back for you. Have fun on the 4th of July. But let’s save the fireworks for once a year.

The point is, we need to make sure we elect Democrats to the Iowa legislature this fall or Iowa could soon become an intolerable place to live. We narrowly avoided this potential nightmare last session. The Republicans will certainly introduce a bill again this session.

The DMReg. article claims 60% of Iowans approve of legalizing fireworks, but I would argue that most of those surveyed probably haven’t really thought through what life would be like with explosives potentially going off in their neighborhoods 24-7-365.  And I suspect that if they were asked, “Are you good with Iowa’s fireworks laws as they now stand?” 60% would probably shrug and say “sure.”  As of now, if your neighbors get really reckless with the explosives, there is recourse.  If they become legal, you’ll just have to cope.

So vote for Democrats this fall, but if fireworks legalization comes up this session, if we still have Republican rule in the legislature, it will be imperative that we all contact our senators and reps.  They will be under a lot of pressure to vote yes because that is who they are hearing from. The quality of life in Iowa, which is rapidly diminishing due to poor water quality and other Republican initiated consequences, is in danger of taking another sharp turn for worse.

Here’s an excerpt from an article in the Des Moines Register:

The Iowa Senate appeared on the verge of approving a fireworks legalization proposal late in this year’s session, but it was declared dead after two Democrats abruptly switched their votes before a key committee meeting. Further debate appears likely when lawmakers return to the Iowa Capitol in January.

State Sen. Jake Chapman, R-Adel, said he is convinced that if the Iowa House and Senate have a floor vote on a bill to legalize fireworks, it will be approved and sent to Gov. Terry Branstad for his signature.

“If I am there in the Senate in January, you can bet your bottom dollar” that another fireworks bill will be proposed, Chapman said.

“..legalizing the product in Iowa would increase injuries and deaths in fireworks accidents, including situations that involve innocent bystanders. Nationally, about 10,500 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks in 2014, federal statistics show. In addition, some veterans’ advocates have cited growing concerns that legalizing fireworks would be a hardship for Iowa combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.”

(click here to read the entire article)

Bridges In Iowa Worst In Nation

It does happen

It does happen

Iowa finally got to the top in one category of public achievement. From an email issued by Progress Iowa:

We’ve got some bad news. Iowa recently overtook Pennsylvania for the dubious honor of having more structurally deficient bridges than any other state, according to an annual report published by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.

With a ranking like that you’d expect your state legislators to take action. Well, they did, but the wrong kind of action — gutting the Iowa Department of Transportation’s budget by $4.85 million. To cut funding when our bridges are falling apart isn’t just irresponsible, it’s ridiculous.

Join Progress Iowa in calling on state legislators to restore funding and repair Iowa’s crumbling infrastructure.

We drive our families over structurally deficient bridges every day, often without even knowing it. Without adequate funding for more inspectors and more improvements, our state’s infrastructure will fall further behind, impacting our safety and our economy.

Thanks for all you do,

Matt Sinovic
Executive Director
Progress Iowa

It is not just sad, it is scary. All of us drive over these bridges daily. We drive over one that could looks like it is literally held together with chewing gum and bailing wire.

The infrastructure in this state is getting to the stage of decrepit in some cases. When not maintained, bridges do fall down and people die when they do. Nine years ago come August 1st the I35 bridge in St. Paul collapsed killing 13 and injuring 145. When taxes are cut there are consequences. When we have a congress that couldn’t pass a Mother’s Day bill, there are consequences.

Don’t forget when you vote this fall that your votes do have consequences. Iowa was once one of the most progressive of states. Our parents and grandparents built a state grounded in common sense with an infrastructure that supported decent living. We need to remember that that infrastructure must be maintained and improved if we expect to maintain our life style and move our economy into the future.

The Republican Party is the party of tax cuts, damn the consequences.

Kitchen Table Issues And The Iowa Legislature

Iowa Capitol

Iowa Capitol

A quite disappointing session by most any standards. The legislature did little to give Iowa’s middle class and poor hope that there would be any help coming their way. Republicans in the legislature were able to keep some of the tax cuts that Governor Branstad bestowed on businesses while the legislature was out last fall.

So when Iowans sit at their kitchen tables to talk of finances, their hopes for them and their children, their health situations and the world situation – the kind of things families talk about – they must look at their leaders in Des Moines and just shake their heads wondering what the hell are they doing.

The cost of higher education will probably go up in Iowa thanks to the legislature while classrooms for the K-12 will possibly get a bit more overcrowded as Iowa continues its streak of underfunding education. Hopes of rising wages among the poorest in Iowa were once again dashed as there would be no talk of raising a minimum wage that is set at the lowest possible wage in the country.

On the good side, at least the legislature did not fall for the Governor’s little scheme to slowly starve public schools by cutting into the sales tax stream earmarked for schools. However, the other side of that coin is that the water pollution problems that Branstad’s little scheme was supposed to address remains untouched.

Once again Iowa’s Fiscal Partnership has a great summary of the recent legislative session here.

Not mentioned in there is Republicans in the legislature’s totally gutless approach to legalizing medical marijuana. Seems like it should be a simple project for the legislature to clean up the mess they made a couple years ago when they rushed a medical marijuana bill through at the end of the session. With the glare of media focused on the truly sad stories epileptic children, the legislature passed a bill that allowed the use of medical marijuana but not its purchase or possession.

When the problem was discovered rather than fix their mistake, Republicans decided this was a great place to make a really strange anti-drug stand. So for two consecutive sessions they have worked to once more make Iowa the butt of jokes. While they dither children with epilepsy will be seeing their access to cannbidiol oil expiring at the end of June.

The Iowa legislature is in desperate need of a major makeover this fall. We need adults who will address the needs of real Iowans, not a legislature beholden to ALEC.

Just A Reminder: ALEC And Why State Races Are Important

before voting, ask yourself this question

before voting, ask yourself this question

Now that the legislature has concluded and the focus will be on the November elections, it is extremely important that we make sure that we not get totally distracted by the sideshow known as Trump. The Iowa legislature is but one seat from being a tie. With the Lt. Governor being a republican and with her having the tie breaking vote in the senate, keeping a majority in the senate is imperative.

What would happen if republicans maintain control of the House and gain at least a tie in the senate? With the leadership in the Iowa House also being in leadership in ALEC and the governor as a founding member of ALEC, we would quickly see Iowa adopting ALEC legislation into state laws.

If you want examples of what that would mean to Iowa, all we need to do is look around to other states where Republicans own both houses of the legislature and the governor’s chair. Perhaps the most recent example is North Carolina where an ALEC model bill stopping local government (cities or counties) from raising minimum wage added a clause to check the sex of people going into a public bathroom. While that clause gets most of the publicity and reaction, the bill is one of ALEC’s new thrust to stop local governments to respond to the needs of their citizens.

In the past ALEC has pushed such hit legislation as “Stand Your Ground,” many of the charter school laws around the country, and of course the push for all sorts of anti-union laws especially the anti-public union policies. There are a lot of Iowa legislators who would love to sell their state out for a little favor from ALEC businesses.

ALEC gears up for the next winter’s legislative session well in advance. They will have a summer meeting from July 27 – 29th in Indianapolis.
They will be catching legislators coming back from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland the week before. The summer meeting is usually a strategy session. Legislators usually get their walking orders at the winter meeting just before Christmas and the coming legislative session usually held in a warm vacation spot.

So what does ALEC have in store for next year? Our friends at the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) gave us a lowdown on what was expected to go on at the ALEC Task Force Meeting in Pittsburgh yesterday. Here is an short extract of some of the business want list from their min ions in the various legislatures:

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT:
Attacking Federal Efforts to Rein-in Carbon Pollution

Over the last three years, ALEC has penned and promoted several bills to stop the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which establishes state-by-state targets for carbon emissions reductions, and offers a flexible framework that allows states to meet those targets. The Clean Power Plan is also a major part of the U.S. commitment to reduce carbon pollution under the recent Paris international climate conference to try to mitigate the consequences of climate change – much more on the environment at the link.

* The Environmental Literacy Improvement Act would require that educators teach students about issues such as climate change from “a range of perspectives.” Although climate change is not a scientifically disputed fact (with 97% consensus), the bill would require that students be taught “countervailing scientific and economic views.”

* The Updating Net Metering Policies Resolution would increase costs for energy users who generate their own electricity through solar panels at their home or business. An ALEC staffer described home solar users to the media as “free riders on the system.”

EDUCATION: More Privatization

ALEC’s education agenda is focused on privatizing America’s public schools. Its bills undermine public education and teachers’ unions and also divert taxpayer dollars from accountable public schools to unaccountable for-profit education corporations. ALEC masks its true agenda in “feel-good” language, such as shifting from terms like “vouchers,” which are broadly unpopular and rooted in segregation, to “opportunity scholarships” or “tuition tax credits.” ALEC bills expected to crop up in 2016 include:

* “Indiana Education Reform Package” creates a voucher program, using taxpayer funds to subsidize private for-profit and religious schools and limits teachers’ rights to collective bargaining. One of its key components–the “Charter School Act”–automatically converts low-scoring public schools into charter schools.

* “Parent Trigger Act” would allow parents to seize control of a school and fire the teachers and principal, or privatize it entirely, for years to come.

These are just a small sample of what a Republican legislature with an allegiance to ALEC would do if elected in Iowa.

Now more than ever is it critical that Iowans vote and vote for legislators that have allegiance to our state and not a business backed lobbying group.