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Questions Related To The Confederate Flag Situation

Time to ride off into the sunset

Time to ride off into the sunset

Celebrating our country’s birthday we thought that some questions need to be asked as a follow up to the recent question that was spurred by the happenings in Charleston, SC:
“Why are government buildings in the US flying the flag from a treasonous group?”

These questions are also simple:
“Why do the governments of some states have holidays that honor traitors?
“Why are government buildings such as schools named after traitors such as Robert E. Lee or Jefferson Davis?”
“Why are there monuments to traitors to our country?”

In a stunning fallout of the racially driven murders in Charleston, SC, many Americans finally awoke to the fact that the flag of a treasonous group still flies in many places often sanctioned by the local and state governments. When Americans finally awoke to these flags flying, they also realized that the state supporting this flag is wrong.

In a similar vein, it appears to be time to examine all the state supported support of vestiges of the Confederate states. Private citizens may certainly do so if they desire, but tax money nor state approval should be given to those who committed treason. And such support definitely not go to those who supported the cause of maintaining slavery. It is well beyond time that their legacies be consigned to museums.

We do not have any Benedict Arnold Elementary schools in this country nor monuments to him. Germany has nothing honoring Rommel. Similarly, we should not have honors for men like Lee or Davis.

Corridor Home To 6 Of Past 11 Domestic Homocides In Iowa

DVIPhttp://www.dvipiowa.org/violence-in-the-corridor/

 A message from DVIP following the recent shooting at Coral Ridge mall:

Eastern Iowa – we love our communities and the quality of life we enjoy here. But we are becoming more aware of the rising rate of violence related to domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and child abduction. Out of respect for the ongoing investigation and limited information about the relationship between Andrea Farrington and the alleged assailant, this is not a commentary on that case, but a response to the escalation of violence against women in the Eastern Iowa Corridor.

Small town Iowa has always been synonymous with safe homes, but 6 of the past 11 domestic homicides in Iowa have been in the Eastern Iowa 380 Corridor or Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, Marion and Cedar Rapids [bolding BFIA’s]. The Domestic Violence Intervention Program provides the only emergency safe shelter in our eight county service area (Johnson, Cedar, Des Moines, Henry, Iowa, Lee, Van Buren and Washington Counties).

The Domestic Violence Intervention Program not only helps victims of domestic violence, but also victims of dating violence, child abductions related to domestic violence and stalking. Stalking is defined as “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear”. Over 85% of victims are stalked by someone they know—in domestic violence or dating violence, a victim is stalked by their intimate partner for an average of 21 months AFTER they leave their abusive partner. Of the 7.5 million people stalked each year in the United States, 15% of women and 6% of men have experienced stalking to the point where they felt very fearful or believed that they, or someone close to them, would be harmed or killed.

How a community responds to victims of violent crime is critical and requires an investment on everyone’s part to reduce crimes like stalking and domestic/dating violence. Our communities are strong and practice a national model Coordinated Community Response, which is a series of cross agency protocols and safety measures put in place by the community— advocates, health/mental health care workers, law enforcement, courts, child welfare workers—to collectively support victims and hold perpetrators accountable. But these systems often address the back end of the problem – after the crime has been committed. Our current Coordinated Community Response models lack one key element, a Bystander Network of family, friends, neighbors and co-workers looking out for and supporting victims. Bystander support networks have the capacity to intervene and prevent these crimes through thoughtful, caring support of victims and challenges to the attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate violence against women.

To have effective community change, you need to know the facts about stalking or domestic/dating violence and how to really help someone in fear.

First, call our 24-hour crisis line (1-800-373-1043) to get real information on how you can help.

Second, with guidance from our trained staff and volunteers, talk to your friend/family/colleague about the situation in a way that is respectful to their safety and needs—they know the situation better than anyone else, and how to best keep themselves safe or the resources they need.

Third, ask what they really need; learn as much as you can from them about what they fear, what they hope for and what will change their situation for the better. And then most important – help them get what they need. Too many times we look in from the outside and make assumptions about what should happen – too many times those assumptions are wrong.

The Domestic Violence Intervention Program’s mission statement is to provide comprehensive support and advocacy services. To that end, we offer training to businesses and corporations to evaluate policies surrounding workplace stalking and domestic/dating violence, what to do to help prevent an incident at the workplace and how to safety plan with your employees when violence comes into the workplace.

Please contact dvip@dvipiowa.org for a workplace environment safety assessment and more information on policy and training addressing stalking and domestic/dating violence in the workplace.

Situations like Andrea Farrington’s are becoming much too commonplace in Eastern Iowa. We need to keep the conversation going about how we can keep victims of stalking, dating violence, and domestic violence safe.

Sometimes We Need To Laugh

Been a really bad week for those who believe that America can be what it claims to be. As with many here, the events of the week have been roiling in my mind making me wonder if it is worth the fight. Murder in a mall in the heartland, race driver mass murder in South Carolina, politicians in Washington giving away America’s sovereignty in something called the TPP, all in all a bad week.

Sometimes, we just need to step back and get away from the daily grind and have a laugh.

In that vein, I stole a post from democraticunderground which did just that. A hat tip to poster Madokie for this gem of a post:

For those of us who remember, for a moment of levity. Enjoy

These great questions and answers are from the days when Hollywood Squares’ game show responses were spontaneous, not scripted, as they are now!

Q. Paul, what is a good reason for pounding meat?

A. Paul Lynde: Loneliness!

(The audience laughed so long and so hard it took up almost 15 minutes of the show!)

Q. Do female frogs croak?

A. Paul Lynde: If you hold their little heads under water long enough.

Q. If you’re going to make a parachute jump, at least how high should you be

A. Charley Weaver: Three days of steady drinking should do it.

Q. True or False, a pea can last as long as 5,000 years…

A. George Gobel: Boy, it sure seems that way sometimes.

Q. You’ve been having trouble going to sleep. Are you probably a man or a woman?

A.. Don Knotts: That’s what’s been keeping me awake.

Q. According to Cosmopolitan, if you meet a stranger at a party and you think that he is attractive, is it okay to come out and ask him if he’s married?

A.. Rose Marie: No wait until morning.

Q. Which of your five senses tends to diminish as you get older?

A. Charley Weaver: My sense of decency..

Q. What are ‘Do It,’ ‘I Can Help,’ and ‘I Can’t Get Enough’?

A. George Gobel: I don’t know, but it’s coming from the next apartment.

Q. As you grow older, do you tend to gesture more or less with your hands while talking?

A. Rose Marie: You ask me one more growing old question Peter, and I’ll give you a gesture you’ll never forget.

Q. Paul, why do Hell’s Angels wear leather?

A. Paul Lynde: Because chiffon wrinkles too easily.

Q.. Charley, you’ve just decided to grow strawberries. Are you going to get any during the first year?

A.. Charley Weaver: Of course not, I’m too busy growing strawberries.

Q. In bowling, what’s a perfect score?

A. Rose Marie: Ralph, the pin boy.

Q. During a tornado, are you safer in the bedroom or in the closet?

A. Rose Marie: Unfortunately Peter, I’m always safe in the bedroom.

Q. Can boys join the Camp Fire Girls?

A.. Marty Allen: Only after lights out.

Q. When you pat a dog on its head he will wag his tail. What will a goose do?

A. Paul Lynde: Make him bark?

Q. If you were pregnant for two years, what would you give birth to?

A. Paul Lynde: Whatever it is, it would never be afraid of the dark..

Q. According to Ann Landers, is there anything wrong with getting into the habit of kissing a lot of people?

A. Charley Weaver: It got me out of the army.

Q. Back in the old days, when Great Grandpa put horseradish on his head, what was he trying to do?

A. George Gobel: Get it in his mouth.

Q. Who stays pregnant for a longer period of time, your wife or your elephant?

A. Paul Lynde: Who told you about my elephant?

Q. Jackie Gleason recently revealed that he firmly believes in them and has actually seen them on at least two occasions. What are they?

A. Charley Weaver: His feet.

Q. According to Ann Landers, what are two things you should never do in bed?

A. Paul Lynde: Point and laugh

WE DON’T STOP LAUGHING BECAUSE WE GROW OLD,
WE GROW OLD BECAUSE WE STOP LAUGHING

School Funding, Affordable College, Bipartisan Bills: The Courtney Report

Courtney Report

STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT, QUALITY SCHOOLS REMAIN KEY STICKING POINTS

Disagreements over education funding are preventing the Legislature from adjourning for the year.

Iowa families count on great local schools to give their children and grandchildren a leg up in life. High-quality schools make Iowa workers among the nation’s most productive, which in turn attracts high-skill, high-wage jobs and businesses to our state.

Educational opportunity has long been a key factor in Iowa’s economic growth, and economic opportunity is directly related to education funding. Funding determines if schools can pay teachers and staff, how much one-on-one attention students receive, and whether classrooms have up-to-date materials and technology. Funding will help determine the success of the education reforms launched in 2013.

Today, Iowa invests $1,600 less per student than the national average. Education leaders say a 3 percent increase in funding for our schools is necessary to prevent Iowa from falling farther behind.

Republicans, who control the Iowa House, proposed an increase of 1.25 percent five months ago. Democrats, who hold the majority in the Iowa Senate, approved a 4 percent increase earlier this year and have made several attempts to compromise since.

We are willing to split the difference by giving schools a 2.625 percent increase, which would prevent cuts at most schools. Unfortunately, House Republicans won’t budge. As a recent Quad City Times editorial put it:

“Instead of doing the work of legislating, House Republicans hung fast to their session-opening position of limiting education funding to less than the rate of inflation, assuring unnecessary and harmful education cuts for Iowa schoolchildren.”

So far, the House position has forced schools across Iowa to send out “pink slips” to more than 1,000 Iowa teachers. This is not the way to strengthen student achievement, Iowa communities and our state’s future.

With Iowa’s finances in good shape, this is the year to renew our investment in education and our commitment to a strong economy.

KEEPING HIGHER ED AFFORDABLE
For many, school does not stop with high school graduation. Increasingly, good jobs require higher education or worker training. Iowans of all ages and backgrounds need access to college to build a better future for themselves and their families.

Ideally, these opportunities should be as affordable as possible. Taking on massive student debt is another roadblock to achieving success, to strengthening our middle class and to growing our economy.

Iowa students already graduate with more student loan debt than in most other states. That leads some graduates to leave the state in search of higher paying jobs elsewhere. Yet the Republican House disagrees with us on the importance of college funding.

Community colleges work with employers to address local skilled worker shortages and provide an affordable path to a four-year degree. Senate Democrats propose investing $8 million more in Iowa’s community colleges. House Republicans oppose any increase.

At our three state universities, there will be a tuition freeze for in-state students for a third straight year under the Senate’s budget proposal. Senate Democrats also support an increase in tuition grants for Iowa students attending our private colleges.

In contrast, the budget plan approved by the House Republicans would force students to pay even more for their college education. The House budget actually cuts funding for the University of Iowa, Iowa State and need-based grants to Iowans attending our private colleges.

The budget approved by the Senate Democrats proves we can invest in education at all levels and balance the budget responsibly. We do it with an overall budget the same size as the budget proposed by Republican Governor Terry Branstad.

BIPARTISAN PRIORITIES DESERVE A VOTE IN THE HOUSE
As we near the end of the 2015 session, there are many bipartisan issues that have been overlooked in the Iowa House. This includes initiatives to make our communities safer, improve health care and boost quality of life that won the support of Democrats and Republicans in the Iowa Senate.

Among them are efforts to:

* Keep all students safe with adequate training for schools to investigate harassment and bullying, including alleged incidents that occur outside of school, and to impose school discipline.
* Combat human trafficking through public awareness efforts, special training for law enforcement officers and making the crime a forcible felony.
* Prohibit the use of GPS to track a person without legitimate purpose or authorization.
* Give adoptive parents time to bond with their new child by requiring businesses with maternity leave programs to give adoptive parents the same time off as birth parents.
* Improve detection of breast cancer by notifying women in their mammogram results if they have dense breast tissue, may be at greater risk of developing breast cancer and should consult with a physician about additional screening options.
* Forbid felons from receiving life insurance proceeds if they commit a violent crime against an insured person within the six months prior to the death of that person.
* Provide immunity from prosecution for possessing, sharing or using controlled substances or drug paraphernalia to assist those suffering from an opioid overdose.
The House has a second chance to reconsider these bipartisan ideas because they were included in Senate File 510, which was approved by the Senate on May 14.

Ed Fallon: Pipeline Is Assault On Land And Livelihood Of Farmers And Landowners Across Iowa

ed fallonEd Fallon To Hold Press Conference Prior To Court Appearance


fallonforum.com

On Wednesday, May 27 at 12:45 p.m. on the south side of the Polk County Courthouse at 500 Mulberry Street in Des Moines, former Iowa lawmaker Ed Fallon and his attorney Joseph Glazebrook will announce how they intend to respond to the charge of trespass against Fallon for his refusal to leave Governor Branstad’s office last Monday while protesting the Bakken pipeline. Following the press conference, Fallon will appear with Glazebrook before a judge at 1:00 p.m. in Room 201 of the Courthouse.

On Monday, May 18 at 1:30 p.m., Fallon entered Governor Branstad’s office and informed staff that he would refuse to leave until the Governor met with him, heard the stories of the landowners in the path of the proposed Bakken Oil Pipeline, and agreed to support the eminent domain bill (SF 506 and HSB 249). The Governor was in his office that day, but declined to meet with Fallon.

This will be Fallon’s second appearance at the Polk County Courthouse in response to a principled act of conscience. The first was in March of 2012, following his arrest as part of the Occupy movement, when on October 9, 2011, Fallon and 35 others refused to leave the public space on the west side of the State Capitol to demand that all levels of government respond to corruption on Wall Street and the growing crisis of income inequality. In response to that arrest, Fallon pled “not-guilty.” He was defended by Joseph Glazebrook. After a trial that lasted one week, Fallon was found “not guilty” by a jury of his peers on March 9, 2012.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about the best course of action to take in response to my arrest last week at the Governor’s office,” said Fallon. “I take the matter very seriously, and have consulted not just with my attorney, Joseph Glazebrook, but with coworkers and others opposed to the Bakken Oil Pipeline as well.”

“Regardless of the outcome of Wednesday’s hearing, I reiterate my commitment to doing everything I can to continue the fight against this pipeline, which is not only an assault on the land and livelihood of farmers and landowners across Iowa, but an assault on our environment and planet as well,” concluded Fallon.

Fallon served 14 years in the Iowa House, from 1993-2006. He ran for Governor in 2006 and U.S. Congress in 2008. Since 2009, he has hosted the Fallon Forum, a public affairs talk show available on three Iowa radio stations and online at fallonforum.com.

Memorial Day Thoughts

Photo by Paul Deaton

Photo by Paul Deaton

We rightly turn our thoughts and our thanks to those who fought and the many who died in America’s wars. Sadly, we often find out long after a conflict is over that the reason we went to war in the first place was somewhat flimsy at best.

When we ask our often times young men and women to potentially die for their country there should be two very bottom line criteria:   1) that we have exhausted all other means to achieve our goals; and
2) that those who survive will be taken care of properly.

America is once again discussing the events that led us into invading Iraq. This is good. We need open and civil discussions on the march to war so that we do not make such mistakes again. As a nation, the subject of what led us into our various wars must always be open for discussion. With hindsight most of us agree that many of the recent wars have been unnecessary. Vietnam, the Gulf War, the invasion of Iraq should be studied thoroughly to avoid making such mistakes again.

The lives of our soldiers are precious. If we ask them to potentially die, there must be good reason and only after all other channels have been used.

Our soldiers are members of families, sons or daughters, fathers and mothers. Let us resolve to ask for their sacrifice only when necessary.

For those who beat the drum for a war with Iran, will you sacrifice your father or mother? Your sister or brother? Your son or daughter? Yourself? Or would you prefer peaceful settlement be worked on before one of your family members is sent to war?

As we get set to elect new leaders, this is one question that every candidate should answer.

Have a peaceful holiday.

Independent Survey Shows Bob Vander Plaats’ Irrelevance With Voters

progress iowa

Editor’s note: With the coming of the first in the nation Presidential test Iowa caucuses, Bob Vander Plaats is moving into the role of a potential king maker within the Republican Party. Since the Republican caucuses in Iowa have a preponderance of so-called evangelical voters, Republican candidates increasingly will be coming to Iowa to kiss the ring of the Don of this sector of the Republican Party. The note below reminds us that while Vander Plaats and his ilk may hold sway of an active sector of the small turnout of Republicans on caucus night, his beliefs and tactics turn off most common sense Iowans. Kissing up to Vander Plaats may be a short term gain for a candidate but come with a long term negative.

By the way, the next public ring (or butt) kissing of Bob Vander Plaats will be July 18th at the CY Stephens Auditorium in Ames. Might be a good time for some gay weddings in the area.

Increasing unpopularity comes in the wake of Vander Plaats & the Family Leader praying for the physical harm of their political opponents

Des Moines, Iowa — Surveys released by Public Policy Polling (PPP) of Iowa voters show the irrelevance of Bob Vander Plaats in the Republican Presidential caucus, as well as his lack of influence with Iowa voters. Just 13% of Republican primary voters say his support will make them more likely to vote for a candidate in the caucus, while 17% say his support makes it less likely. Vander Plaats’ approval rating with all Iowa voters is only 18%, while 36% view him unfavorably, and 46% do not have an opinion.

Progress Iowa Executive Director Matt Sinovic issued the following statement in reaction to the poll results:

“The survey results released this week by PPP show the increasing irrelevance of Bob Vander Plaats and his organization, the Family Leader, with Iowa voters. After years of working to insert their influence in political races from Presidential caucuses to local ballot initiatives, it seems that Vander Plaats’ 15 minutes of fame is up. More Republicans say they are less likely to vote for a candidate than vote for a candidate based on Vander Plaats’ endorsement, many Iowans have never heard of him, and those who have do not have a favorable impression.”

“While Bob Vander Plaats loses relevance in Iowa politics, he and the Family Leader appear to be losing their grip on reality as well. Within the last few months, Vander Plaats and the Family Leader have prayed for the physical harm of their political opponents. The organization posted a prayer online suggesting that the organizers of the Governors conference on LGBTQ youth ‘be drowned in the depth of the sea.’ And Tamara Scott, a lobbyist for the Family Leader, prayed for someone to be struck down by lightning because they offered a non-Christian prayer at the Iowa Statehouse.”

“The hateful rhetoric and policy positions put forward by Vander Plaats and the Family Leader have no place in our political discourse. And they absolutely do not represent Iowa values. The survey results released this week prove that Iowans have had enough of Bob Vander Plaats’ divisive brand of politics.”

From the PPP survey of Republican primary voters, conducted from April 23-26:
If a candidate for President was endorsed by Bob Vander Plaats, would that make you more or less likely to vote for them, or would it not make a difference?
More likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Bob Vander Plaats: 13%
Less likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Bob Vander Plaats: 17%
Wouldn’t make a difference: 62%
Not sure: 7%

From the PPP survey of all Iowa voters, conducted from April 23-26:
Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Bob Vander Plaats?
Favorable: 18%
Unfavorable: 36%
Not sure: 46%

Progress Iowa is a multi-issue progressive advocacy organization with a network of more than 60,000 progressives. Year-round, Progress Iowa advocates for a stronger middle class, first-class public education, and fairness for all Iowans under the law.

###

Background:

Public Policy Polling: Iowa Survey Results, Republican Primary Voters (Question 23)

http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2015/PPP_Release_IA_42815.pdf

Public Policy Polling: Iowa Survey Results, All Iowa Voters (Question 29)

http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2015/PPP_Release_IA_43015.pdf

The Family Leader: Unprecedented spiritual challenge hits Iowa

http://www.thefamilyleader.com/unprecedented-spiritual-challenge-hits-iowa/

Right Wing Watch: Bob Vander Plaats warns of divine retribution for Wiccan prayer in Iowa state capitol

http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/bob-vander-plaats-warns-divine-retribution-wiccan-prayer-iowa-state-capitol

The Family Leader: Governors conference on LGBTQ youth not what you think (includes prayer for conference planners to ‘be drowned in the depth of the sea’)

http://www.thefamilyleader.com/governors-conference-on-lgbtq-youth-not-what-you-think/

Cedar Rapids Gazette: And how will they know us?

http://thegazette.com/subject/opinion/blogs/lynda-waddington/and-how-will-they-know-us-20150417

Write Grassley And Ernst Regarding The TPP

Charles Grassley, like it or not, will be up for re-election in 2016. There is no time like the present to let him know what he should be doing for the people of Iowa. Joni Ernst is in her first months and has already taken many steps that should be making her unpopular among voters. Like it or not, they are our senators and they need to hear from us.

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) may be up for a vote in the senate next week. My expectation, as I am sure yours is, is that Grassley and Ernst will vote for fast-tracking the TPP in lockstep with other Republicans. Remember this vote is not to approve the TPP, but to give the administration the ability to negotiate and approve the TPP basically behind closed doors. This is not what representative democracy is about.

Approving a trade pact the size of TPP in the dark just tears at all the basic tenets of democracy. From what we know TPP will affect every segment of our society. We have also learned that there are many troubling aspects to problem resolution within TPP that may overrule our laws from outside. Not a situation that America should allow itself to get into.

There appear to be many other troubling aspects of the TPP but we do not know for sure what is in this pact since all negotiations have been under super secrecy. The latest rumor is that the TPP is based on the model of the recent (2011) trade pact with South Korea (KORUS) that has been disastrous for the United States. That agreement has sent yet more American jobs offshore while greatly expanding our trade deficit. TPP will do the same on steroids. America can not afford the TPP.

Here is what I will send to our senators:
Senator __________,
I am writing to ask that you vote against fast track authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership. This trade agreement will affect all aspects of the American economy and possibly aspects of out day tot day lives. In a democracy such as ours, any act that will have this much affect on the daily lives of our citizens should have open debate so that all sides may be brought out. There should also be plenty of time and opportunity for common citizens to offer input.

Please vote against fast tracking authority for the TPP when it comes to the senate floor.

Thank you,

Here are the email links for Grassley and Ernst:

http://www.grassley.senate.gov/constituents/questions-and-comments

http://www.ernst.senate.gov/content/contact-joni

What To Do Instead Of Arguing With A Conservative

tea party conservativesYes, you’ve seen these kinds of videos before but this one is actually pretty good.

“In MRI studies when people see information that contradicts their world view the parts of the brain involved in reasoning and logic would actually shut down. Instead it was the parts of the brain that handled attacks and the fight or flight response that lit up.”

 

School Funding, Payroll Debit Cards, Texting: The Courtney Report

tom-courtney-2

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt of the weekly newsletter from Senator Courtney. For the full newsletter, please go to his website


CALL THE GOVERNOR: IOWA STUDENTS ARE WORTH MORE

If the future of Iowa children, job creation and economic growth matter to you, please make your voice heard on funding for our students and schools.

The House and Senate are in gridlock. The Senate has approved a 4 percent increase in funding for our K-12 schools. However, House Republicans have voted to scale back educational opportunity with a meager 1.25 percent increase. That is not enough to keep up with rising costs, let alone compete with other states.

When asked about the impact on their students, Iowa school superintendents said they would have to increase class sizes, fire teachers, delay buying new classroom materials and reduce course offerings. Iowa is already more than $1,600 below the national average in annual per-pupil investment. The result is that other states are increasing student achievement faster than Iowa and out-performing us.

Iowa is competing with the world for high-skill, high-wage jobs. We must increase our commitment to great schools, student achievement and teacher quality.

Contact Governor Branstad and tell him to break the gridlock on school funding. Call his office at 515-281-5211 or send him a message at www.governor.iowa.gov/constituent-services/register-opinion.

MAKING STATE GOVERNMENT MORE ACCOUNTABLE & TRANSPARENT
Over the last year, the Senate Government Oversight Committee has investigated numerous allegations of hush money, slush funds, black lists and lack of transparency throughout Governor Branstad’s administration.

This week, the Senate approved SF 321 to ensure state agencies that save money by purchasing through the state’s master contracts get those dollars back. The Department of Administrative Services would no longer be able to retain rebates and use them for its own purposes. Rebates would be returned to the rightful agency, rewarding them for their fiscal responsibility while adding accountability and transparency to state spending.

In addition, we hope to restructure the state’s infamous “black list.” In the past, Iowans had no idea they were on this black list — also known as a “do-not-hire” list — unless they applied for a state position and were denied.

Senate File 332 would establish procedures for putting somebody on the state’s do-not-hire list, which would make them ineligible for state agency employment. Under the bill, the Department of Administrative Services may only designate an individual as ineligible for state employment under specific circumstances. The individual must be notified of their status at the time of termination and has a right to appeal.

The bill also requires the Department of Administrative Services to post all vacant positions, with a public announcement of vacancies at least 10 days in advance of the application deadline. This will allow all qualified individuals the chance to find out about job openings.


PAYROLL DEBIT CARDS MUST BE FAIR FOR IOWA WORKERS

This week, the Senate approved legislation aimed at clarifying the law regarding payroll cards. A payroll card — which is similar to a debit card — is an increasingly popular way to pay employees.

Legislators recently heard from Iowans who came to the Statehouse to tell their stories. We learned that many Iowans don’t have a choice in how they are paid and may incur high fees when paid by payroll card. Nobody should have to pay a fee to collect their wages.

Senate File 460 is a simple, common sense bill that aims to protect the pay and rights of employees.

SF 460 requires an employee to agree voluntarily to payment via a payroll card. The agreement must be in writing, and the employee must have the option to withdraw all the wages due in a pay period without incurring a fee. The bill also requires the employer to keep the records of consent and to provide another payment method if an employee requests it at a later time.

GETTING TOUGHER ON TEXTING WHILE DRIVING
Texting while driving is dangerous. Between 2001 and 2013, more than 8,600 Iowa crashes were caused by drivers distracted by a phone or other device. These crashes resulted in more than 4,200 injuries and dozens of deaths.

In 2010, Iowa made it a crime to write, read or send a text message while driving, but the law is a secondary offense. That means officers can only write a ticket for texting if they pull you over for speeding or another violation.

Polls show more than 80 percent of Iowans want tougher laws for texting while driving. Texting behind the wheel is a primary offense in 39 other states, including Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. That gives officers the authority to pull over a driver specifically for texting.

Iowa will join those states if Senate File 391, approved this week by the Senate, becomes law. The bill makes texting while driving a primary offense and clarifies that the texting ban is applicable to any electronic communication done by hand.

Texting makes the chance of an accident 23 times greater because it involves three types of distraction– it takes our mind off driving, our eyes off the road and at least one hand off the steering wheel. Drivers who text have slower reaction times, are 70 percent less likely to stay in their lane and often fail to notice traffic signs.

Teens have been the primary focus of Iowa’s texting and driving laws and education efforts. Texting results in car crashes that kill an average of 11 teens each day nationwide.

However, many parents don’t set a good example for their kids. When educators from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau talk with Iowa teens, half the students say their parents text while driving.

Learn more about the dangers of texting while driving at www.iowadot.gov/CurbItClickIt/facts_stats.html.