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Notice Of Public Hearing On HF 80

Iowa State Capitol

Iowa State Capitol

Iowa Legislature
Public Hearings
Legislative Services Agency – Legislative Information Office – www.legis.iowa.gov

HF 80 – A bill for an act establishing the state percent of growth and including effective date
provisions. (Formerly HSB 58)
Sponsored by the Education Committee –
Monday, January 26, 2015
7:00 PM (introductions begin)
After introductions, the hearing will be for two hours in the RM 103.

General Requirements:

Speaking time per individual for the public hearing on HF 80 will be 3 minutes (written testimony is encouraged but not required). Written testimony or comments maybe emailed to housechiefclerk@legis.iowa.gov.

The cut off time to sign up to speak is 5 p.m. on Monday the 26th.

Persons wishing to speak or leave comments available to the public via the legislative website may sign up electronically at Public Hearings.

You may also sign up at the Legislative Information Office (LIO), Room G16, located in the Iowa State Capitol or call 515-281-5129 if you have questions. Please do not leave a recorded message by telephone.

Meghan Nelson, MPA
Assistant Chief Clerk
Iowa House of Representatives
515-281-5383

Iowa Superintendents Reject Branstad Education Budget

 

Loebsack Statement On The State Of The Union Address

dave loebsack updatedWashington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement this evening after President Obama delivered the State of the Union address.

“Since first being elected, my number one priority has been to fight to expand the middle class. As a nation, we must work to create jobs and grow the economy here at home so the middle class, and those working hard to join the middle class, have the tools necessary to pull themselves up and fulfill the American dream. I am pleased that the President laid out his plan and look forward to working with him to move our state and nation forward.

“As a former teacher, I am especially interested in the President’s proposal to provide two years of community college for free to all interested students. To truly succeed in this 21st century global economy, it will make more than just a high school degree. I have long said that community colleges are the principal intersection between education and workforce development and strongly believe that we need to ensure everyone who is qualified has access to a high-quality education.

“The future of economic development in Iowa and across the country depends, in large part, on access to the internet and specifically broadband. Just over the weekend, I met with local and economic development officials who stressed the importance of expanding high speed internet. Broadband would also provide small and rural schools the power to vastly expand their educational options, providing students with a cutting-edge 21st century education regardless of geography.”

Elizabeth Warren And 1st Lady Clinton Discussed Policy, Made A Difference

A meeting between Elizabeth Warren and then First Lady Hillary Clinton prevented a terrible bill from becoming law. What happened next is just plain sad.

 

 

 

Joni Ernst Delivers For The Koch Brothers

Why Iowa Democrats Should Resist The Urge To Blame Bruce Braley For Joni Ernst

joni with gunThere is only so much a candidate can reasonably be asked to overcome. 

I’ve seen a lot of snark coming from my fellow Democrats about Bruce Braley on social media.  Some of it I don’t disagree with.  Every campaign makes mistakes. No candidate is perfect.  We are all disappointed and frustrated.  But placing the loss of Harkin’s senate seat all on Bruce Braley’s back is too simple.  It denies the fact of the incredible $14 million dollar dark money advantage Joni Ernst had, and the extent to which she was enabled by the media, who ignored her gaffes and extreme policy positions, which were in truth more newsworthy than Braley’s irrelevant stumbles. 

The mystery of why there was little reporting of her extreme policy positions (which are easily documented because they can be found in the archives of the Iowa senate), while at the same time the media was obsessed with a couple of Braley gaffes – and simultaneously completely uninterested in hers – is explained on  Blog for Iowa here.

John Nichols/The Nation

John Nichols/The Nation

John Nichols of The Nation always has sharp, spot-on political commentary.  In this pre-SOTU article he accurately predicts the content of Ernst’s rebuttal and clarifies who and what Joni Ernst really represents.  Spoiler alert – it is not the alleged poor breadbag wearers in Red Oak, Iowa.

Thank you John Nichols.  You called it.

“She probably won’t mention the Koch brothers or the other billionaire donors she praises in private for putting her in position to answer the president’s address. But she will be still be working on their behalf. As she challenges Obama’s message, she will be sounding the themes favored by her elite donors and setting the stage for their grab at the presidency in 2016.”

by John Nichols

Considering the sorry circumstance of Republicans who have been tapped to deliver responses to President Obama’s State of the Union addresses, the party leaders who chose Joni Ernst to answer this year’s speech may not have been doing the newly elected senator from Iowa any favors.

But the party bosses were respecting the influence of billionaire campaign donors Charles and David Koch, who were early and enthusiastic proponents of Ernst’s leap from the Iowa legislature—where she had served a mere three years—to the United States Senate. A year ago, Ernst was still something of a long-shot contender, even in the race for the Republican nomination to replace retiring Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. Polls had her trailing former energy-industry CEO Mark Jacobs, a millionaire who was prepared to spend a lot of his own money to secure the nomination, and to take on Democrat Bruce Braley, a sitting congressman who had the advantages of name recognition and a substantial campaign treasury.

But Ernst had some friends who would help her beat the odds. She had been active with the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, [ALEC] a network of right-wing legislators who sponsor “model legislation” crafted in conjunction with representatives of multinational corporations.

According to The Hill, the Kochs took a “particular interest in helping her campaign.” Ernst was the first candidate in an open 2014 Senate race to benefit from “maxed out” personal contributions by the Kochs. And Koch-backed groups such as Americans for Prosperity and the Freedom Partners Action Fund poured millions of dollars into Iowa, where Ernst enjoyed a $14 million outside-spending advantage over Braley.

Ernst was appreciative.

Last June, she flew to California to attend a Koch-sponsored summit at the St. Regis Monarch Beach resort. There, she credited the Kochs and their billionaire allies for making her a contender.

Noting that she had attended a secretive summit, held in New Mexico in August of 2013, at which the Koch brothers had introduced candidates they liked to major donors, Ernst said at the June, 2014, event:

“I was not known at that time—a little-known state senator from a very rural part of Iowa, known through my National Guard service and some circles in Iowa. But the exposure to this group and to this network and the opportunity to meet so many of you, that really started my trajectory.”

A tape of the closed-door event (obtained by The Undercurrent and shared with The Nation and Huffington Post), revealed Ernst and other candidates offering effusive thanks to the billionaires for the money they had provided at critical points in their campaigns. Ernst is heard praising “the folks in this room that got [me] my start…that backed me in this election cycle and primary…” And she told them that what they were investing in was more than just a Senate candidate in Iowa. Ernst declared that “we’re setting the stage for the presidency”—referencing the 2016 presidential race that will get its start with the Iowa caucuses.

[All bolding BFIA’s]  Click here to read the entire article.  Support journalism. Please consider a donation to The Nation.

President Obama’s State Of The Union Address

It Is Five Minutes To Midnight

BAS Cover(Editor’s Note: The BAS issued a press advisory that they will announce their decision regarding setting the Doomsday Clock at 10 a.m. CST on Jan. 22).

The world has not tamed the nuclear beast and it is cause for concern.

This month, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a group formed 70 years ago by some of the physicists who worked on the Manhattan Project, will decide whether to update their Doomsday Clock which currently says, “It Is 5 Minutes to Midnight®.”

The clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in the life sciences.

Why should Iowans worry when most don’t think about this in daily life? We don’t need to freak out, but we do need to be aware that the U.S. nuclear program matters in Iowa.

In 2009, President Obama announced pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons in Prague. Things have gone unexpectedly under his leadership.

“I note the United States does not support efforts to move to a nuclear weapons convention, a ban, or a fixed timetable for elimination of all nuclear weapons,” said Adam Scheinman, U.S. State Department delegate to a Dec. 8, 2014 international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons in Vienna, Austria.

Jaws dropped at the tone-deaf statement in a room where people had gathered to hear the witness of Hibakusha who survived the nuclear explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Here’s the problem. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the administration plans to spend $355 billion over the next 10 years to modernize our nuclear arsenal. This is an absurd waste of taxpayer dollars on weapons that should never be used. These are our tax dollars, over $1,100 from every person.

The Doomsday Clock is a reminder that we can’t afford the luxury of an incremental approach to nuclear disarmament, and in Iowa it matters.

This Week On The Fallon Forum

fallon forumfallonforum.com

Dear Friends,

I love my audience. You’re always putting me in touch with brilliant people that I’ve never heard of. Take David Cay Johnston, for example. Okay, so he’s a Pulitzer Prize winner, author of multiple books, a distinguished professor. Yeah, I probably should’ve heard of the guy. But I’ve been walking across the country, just trying to survive. (That’s now my default excuse for everything, ok?)

Today we have David on the program to talk about the broader issues surrounding cheap gas prices. Yes, besides saving us money at the pump, cheap gas might help stop the Bakken Oil Pipeline and other fossil-fuel expansion projects. (I said “might.”) But what are the broader ramifications globally relevant to the climate crisis and political stability?

Also on today’s program, Kathleen McQuillen of American Friends Service Committee tells us about an upcoming conference featuring, among other great presenters, John Nichols of The Nation. The discussion highlights the corrupting role of corporate dollars in the political process and policy making, and what the average person can do about it.

Alex Morse joins us, too, to talk about his experience in Latin America and how climate change is impacting smallholder farmers there. The truth is, agriculturalists all over the world are far closer to the front lines of the climate crisis than many of us here in Iowa. Beyond the need to be concerned about our fellow human beings, we need to be paying tension because their story will eventually become our story.

Finally, Des Moines attorney Joseph Glazebrook joins us to talk about the pending historic US Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, which could mean that 2015 is the year where every gay or lesbian couple who wants to marry now has the right to do so — in all 50 states! Or . . . there could be an entirely different outcome.

Catch the Fallon Forum live on Monday from 11:00 am – 12:00 noon on KDLF 1260 AM “La Reina.” Join the conversation by calling in at (515) 528-8122. And you can hear the Fallon Forum on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 5:00 pm on Wednesday and on KPVL 89.1 FM (Postville) at 7:00 pm on Wednesday.

Thanks!

Ed Fallon

Iowa House Democrats Rank High In Gender Equity

Iowa State Capitol

Iowa State Capitol

Gender Disparity in State Houses

There is still much work to be done if women are to achieve overall gender equity in representative democracy leadership.

House Minority Leader Mark Smith put out an e-newsletter that announced a remarkable statistic. For the 2015 legislative session, 49% of the House Democratic caucus was composed of women, making it one of the most gender-balanced state bodies in the nation.

But this is a narrow statistic, and though twenty-one of the forty-three Democrats in the Iowa House are women, only six of fifty-six Republican state house representatives are women (11%).

The numbers of women in the Iowa Senate are much worse. While six of twenty-six Democratic Senators are women (23%), just one out of twenty-four Senate Republicans are women (4%). Altogether, 22.7% of Iowa legislators are women, behind the national average of 24.4%. Right now there are thirty-four women who have gaveled in for the 2015 session of the Iowa legislature, one behind the record high of thirty-five women who served in the 2009 and 2014 sessions.

Iowa Democrats seem to do a better job of selecting women to be in its caucus leadership. Democrat Pam Jochum is the Senate President, and two of the four assistant majority leaders and three committee chairs are women. The only female Republican senator, Amy St. Clair, while not selected as a leader in her caucus, is a minority chair on the Education Committee.

In the Republican controlled House, only one woman is in leadership, Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, and three Republican women are Committee Chairs. Eight Democratic women serve as ranking members of committees.

How do women fare in other states?

According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, approximately 1,785 women will serve in the 50 state legislatures in the 2015 legislative session, essentially no change from the proportion in the 2014 sessions. Iowa ranks ahead of seventeen states, but behind thirty-two states.

Nebraska has the fewest women in raw numbers with only ten women elected to its legislature. Since this is the only state with non-partisan elections, one wonders if women would have better or worse chances if associated with a party? Of the 1,785 women serving this year in state legislatures, 1073 are Democrats, 698 are Republicans, four are third party, and ten are those “non-partisan” Nebraskans.

Louisiana has the lowest percentage rate with only 12.5% of its legislators who are women, followed closely by Oklahoma with 12.8%.

Colorado has the highest rate with 42% of its legislators who are women, followed by Vermont with 41.1%. New Hampshire leads the way with one hundred twenty-two women in its extraordinarily large legislature.

Illinois is 31% female, Minnesota is 33%, Missouri is 24.4%, Wisconsin is 25%, and South Dakota is 21%.

The strangest part of all these numbers, however, is that when women run for office, they actually do quite well. According to Political Parity:

“Conventional wisdom often holds that women candidates have a more difficult path to elected office than their male counterparts. However, recent studies of the performance of women candidates demonstrate that they fare the same as, if not better than, men in similar races. The greatest issue in increasing the ranks of women to elected office is the significant lack of female candidates.”

Since voters seem to have no problem electing women, both parties, as well as non-partisans need to do a much better job of recruiting women to run for office.

Tracy Leone
Organizer
Iowa Federation of Labor