Posts Tagged ‘Iowa Senate’
Click on the link to watch live action of the Iowa Senate as it convenes today at http://t.co/ysiWJHMK
Click on this link to watch live action of the Iowa House http://coolice.legis.iowa.gov/Cool-ICE/default.asp?category=billinfo&Service=livevideo
And although Walker survived the recall efforts this week, the silver lining is that Democrats won the Senate there and we can be hopeful no additional anti-worker legislation will make it to Walker’s desk. Still, the damage has been done.
Last year, when Walker had Republican Majorities in both chambers of the legislature, his anti-worker agenda sailed through the Wisconsin House and, after a bitter fight, through the Wisconsin Senate too, right to his desk where he was waiting eagerly to sign it into law.
And we know Governor Branstad would be waiting with his pen ready too. But there’s a difference. And it’s a critical one:
Although Republicans control the Iowa Governor’s mansion and the Iowa House, Democrats still control the Iowa State Senate. But only by 1 seat.
Please help Democrats keep the majority in the Iowa Senate.
For the past two years, Democrats in the Iowa Senate have fought tooth and nail to prevent an extreme Republican agenda from becoming the law of the land in Iowa.
We’ve held the line on Worker’s Rights and Women’s Rights. We’ve prevented discrimination from being written into the Iowa Constitution. And we’ve stopped dozens of other right-wing initiatives. Including Republican attempts to:
- Eliminate the Iowa Department of Education
- Slash eligibility for HAWK-I–the children’s healthcare system
- Turn the Iowa judicial selection system into a political circus where judges raise money and campaign for public office!
We’ve stopped all of this and more with the narrowest of Majorities. But truth be told, we weren’t alone. We had your help. Your support has meant the difference. It has allowed us to continue to fight another day.
You were there for us in 2010, when the Republican tidal wave that swept over the country broke against the Iowa State Senate, and we kept the Majority.
You were there for us in 2011 when Republicans, in an underhanded political move, appointed one of our members to an administrative board–triggering a Special Election that nearly cost us the Senate.
You stood by us then with an outpouring of support, and your financial help made the difference. We stayed to fight another day.
Please stand with us again in 2012. Contribute today to the Iowa Senate Majority Fund to keep Democrats in control of the Iowa Senate.
Any contribution is appreciated. You may also mail a check to:
Iowa Senate Majority Fund
5661 Fleur Drive
Des Moines, IA 50321
Thank you for your support.
Mike Gronstal, Iowa Senate Majority Leader
Democracy lovers, below is an article that lays out how to do a FOI request to expose legislators who belong to ALEC. We already know that in Iowa, all House members’ ALEC dues are paid automatically at taxpayer expense. House members have to opt out, rather than opt in. At last check, every Democrat had opted out of ALEC except one, Brian Quirk of New Hampton. But this is not the case for Republicans who as of last session were all members of ALEC including Governor Branstad (founding member). In the Iowa senate, dues are not automatically paid out of taxpayer money, so we do not have any idea who belongs to ALEC.
The following is an excerpt from an article from PoliticsUSA by Dennis S., who used a FOI request in South Carolina.
“Here’s what needs to be included in an FOI request: it should be mailed to one of the legislative chairs of the state ALEC organization. [BFIA Editor's Note: In Iowa Rep. Linda J. Miller is listed on the ALEC website as state chair] http://www.alec.org/about-alec/state-chairmen/
find her info. here: http://www3.legis.state.ia.us/ga/member.do?id=6487
Send your FOI through the postal service. Your letter must identify it as a Freedom of Information request. Mail it to his/her legislative office address.
If possible, try to research state ethics filings or whatever heading applies, to learn of any ALEC trips, fees, gifts and reimbursements that involve the object of your request. It will be helpful in formulating your FOI.
An FOI request is for paper records and documents. Always include requests for hard-copy documentation to be mailed by the postal service to your enclosed home address. It is helpful to put a time limit on your request as well.
Caveat: If money is an issue (of course it is). You will likely be charged fees for processing, research, copies, etc. You should include a fee waiver request in your letter based on why the FOI answers regarding the operation of state government would be of significance to the general public.
Good luck fellow believers in democracy.”
Transparency and accountability in Iowa campaign spending will increase if two bipartisan bills approved by the Senate become law.
The first measure, sponsored by Iowa’s Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, closes loopholes and requires more public reporting by groups involved in issue advocacy and non-candidate campaign spending.
The funders of automated “robo-calls” will have to identify themselves.
The second measure, approved overwhelmingly by the Iowa Senate, urges the U.S. Congress to regulate and restrict corporate participation in election campaigns. In the Citizens United decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations have the same free speech rights as you, including the right to contribute to political campaigns. Since then, skyrocketing corporate campaign contributions have threatened to drown out the voices of living, breathing Americans.
It has been an extremely busy time the past two months in preparation for the upcoming legislative session. I have participated in numerous meetings with constituents and organizations. There is much work ahead in the New Year. I will be working on commercial property tax reform, redesigning the mental health system and a variety of other topics, including education funding.
I have also had a busy year in my work with the Progressive States Network. We released our national Blueprint for Economic Security last month. It is focused on getting Americans back to work.
I am hosting a meeting on January 4, on tax increment financing at the Coralville Public Library. There has been a lot of discussion in Johnson County about this issue over the past few months. I thought it was time to bring people together in a public meeting to share perspectives on this funding mechanism.
Johnson County discussion of TIF on Wednesday, January 4
The public is invited to a discussion of the use of tax increment financing to spur local economic development. The meeting will take place in the Coralville Public Library, E. Jean Schwab Auditorium, on Wednesday, January 4, from 6-7:30 p.m. The meeting is an opportunity for the public to hear directly from local government leaders on the use of TIF in Johnson County.
The focus of the discussion is a new report, Tax Increment Financing: A Case Study of Johnson County, by Peter Fisher of the Iowa Policy Project. The report can be found at iowafiscal.org/TIF.html.
Rep. Tom Sands and I will host the meeting. We chair the Legislature’s tax committees, which would consider any statewide reforms. Others participating in the event include the City of Coralville, North Liberty, City of Iowa City, Johnson County, Iowa City Community School District, Clear Creek Amana School District and Peter Fisher of the Iowa Policy Project.
Your advice will help improve education, jobs
Your input helps shape what happens in the Legislature. For example, the bipartisan effort to provide every Iowa four-year-old with high-quality early education was at risk of being shut down last session. But when Iowans got involved, they made it clear that Iowa’s preschools should stay open.
Iowans also told us that job skills and economic opportunity for workers and businesses was their top priority. In the Senate, we responded by approving a variety of jobs measures, including help for the small businesses that create jobs. Some of those bipartisan ideas became law. Others are still on the front burner for the 2012 session, which begins January 9.
Creating jobs and a strong economy means providing quality public education at every level. That’s how Iowa wins the jobs of the future—jobs in renewable energy and in the global economy.
As I prepare for the next session, it’s clear that the economy is what matters most to the people I represent. While unemployment in Iowa is lower than most other states, it’s still too high.
Fortunately, Iowa’s state government is in good shape. We’ve got more than a half-billion dollars in our rainy day funds, and last year’s budget ended $400 million in the black. That means we’re in a great position to invest in job creation and improving education.
A victory for job seekers
A recent court decision overturning Governor Branstad’s veto of a bipartisan effort to keep 36 local workforce offices open is a victory for out-of-work Iowans.
As our state recovers from the worst national recession since World War II, the Governor’s decision to close dozens workforce offices could not have come at a worse time. Many of those offices are in rural communities with some of the highest unemployment rates in Iowa.
I’m always looking for ways to save money and become more efficient when it comes to state services, but closing employment offices when 100,000 Iowans are looking for work is like laying off firefighters and closing fire stations when your town is burning down.
Senate File 517, approved on a bipartisan vote during the 2011 session, included specific funding to keep local workforce offices open in Iowa. These offices help Iowans find jobs, prepare for interviews and learn new skills, and they help businesses find qualified employees. No wonder the overwhelming majority of Republican and Democratic legislators voted to keep them open.
Let’s focus on putting Iowans back to work and strengthening the middle class, not making it harder for Iowans to find a job.
Creating jobs with a small business tax cut
Tough times mean Iowa’s small businesses aren’t able to create the jobs Iowa communities need. One smart way to help small businesses grow is to cut their property taxes.
A Senate proposal to cut commercial property taxes was approved during the 2011 session by a bipartisan vote of 46-4. While the Senate plan gives every business a commercial property tax cut, it focuses on helping small businesses the most. In fact, the Senate plan slashes commercial property taxes for four out of five businesses by 45 percent.
One reason commercial property tax reform has been stalled for years is that property taxes provide stable support for local services, such as schools, roads, police, fire, libraries and economic growth. Under the bipartisan Senate proposal, these services are protected by a dollar-for-dollar state-funded tax credit. Unlike competing proposals, there is no shift of the tax burden onto residential property taxpayers. This has made our Senate proposal popular among property taxpayers, as well as business, school and community leaders.
To start creating jobs again, Iowa’s small businesses need help. The Senate’s plan to cut commercial property taxes provides that help without giving millions in tax breaks to huge out-of-state corporations.
I’ll be working this spring to convince the Iowa House and Governor Branstad to join the Senate’s bipartisan effort to cut taxes for our small businesses.
Program takes girls from classroom to Capitol
Iowa high school girls can win a chance to spend a day at the Statehouse and learn how laws and budgets are developed and approved. The third annual Capitol Girls program will take place in Des Moines on February 8. The event gives students an inside look at the Iowa General Assembly by pairing them with women legislators for the day. To participate, girls must complete an application available at www.women.iowa.gov/just_for_girls and submit it via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax to 515-242-6119 by January 13.
Students can help ‘Write Women Back into History’
To celebrate March as Women’s History Month, Iowa students are invited to enter the 28th annual Write Women Back into History Essay Contest.
Students in grades 6-9 are encouraged to choose a woman, preferably from Iowa, past or present, and write about her accomplishments and how she made a difference for the better. Essays are due by January 27. Winners will be honored during a ceremony at the State Capitol, and cash prizes will be awarded.
The competition is sponsored by the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, the Iowa Department of Education and the State Historical Society of Iowa. Complete details are available at www.women.iowa.gov/about_women/womens_history. For more information, contact Lori Schrader-Bachar at 515-281-4470.
Protect yourself when buying online
With the holidays upon us, it’s good to take extra precautions if you shop online. Here are a few tips to follow:
- Don’t use public computers for your online shopping. They could have malware that steals your credit card information when you place your order.
- Look for the “lock” icon on your browser’s status bar and be sure “https” appears in the website address before making an online purchase.
- Never e-mail credit card information, as there is potential for other people to access it.
In addition, you’ll want to make sure that your computer has the latest security updates installed, that your anti-malware software is running, that you’re using the most recent version of your Internet browser, and that you’ve checked your browser’s security settings.
For more information, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s new publication about shopping online at onguardonline.gov/