The Special Interest Fix Was In For Iowa Workers

Guest post from House Leader Mark Smith The last two weeks have been the most contentious in my 17 years in the Legislature. In just 10 days, Republican lawmakers and Governor Branstad unraveled Iowa’s successful, bipartisan collective bargaining law. After watching the events unfold the last week and a half, what we’ve learned is that the fix was in long before Iowans ever saw the bill. For several months, Republicans, Branstad and Reynolds have hinted at “tweaks” to our collective bargaining law. That law simply requires Iowans and their public employer (school, city, county, etc.) to sit down and work […]

Des Moines Water Works Under Attack By Republican Lawmaker

A Republican-sponsored bill, HF316, would replace the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) and replace it with a regional water authority appointed by Des Moines and suburban municipalities. State Representative Jarad Klein (R-Keota), the bill’s sponsor, claims the utilities’ suburban customers don’t currently have adequate representation. It’s assumed that Klein’s real motivation is to punish the DMWW for filing the federal lawsuit against three Iowa Counties. That suit alleged that these three counties are major contributors to the dangerously high levels of nitrate pollution in the Raccoon River watershed. The Raccoon River is the major source of drinking water for over […]

Senator Mark Chelgren Aims To Purge Democrats From Iowa Universities

The party affiliation on your voter registration card could block you from employment at Iowa’s state universities were a newly proposed bill by Senator Mark Chelgren to become law. Senate File 288, proposed by the Ottumwa legislator, could bring about a Soviet-style purge of liberal-leaning college staff in Iowa. Chelgren wants to impose an ideological litmus test in order to create a “partisan balance,” based on how Iowa has voted in past elections. The legislation proposes that a “person shall not be hired as a professor or instructor member of the faculty at such an institution if the person’s political party affiliation […]

Grassley And Ernst Host Town Hall Forums This Week

With a roiling national debate over healthcare, immigration and Donald Trump’s presidency, Congressional town hall forums in recent weeks have seen massive turnouts of angry constituents. In a reversal from the 2009 forums that sparked the creation of the Tea Party, this year it’s Republicans who have found themselves on the defensive. Both Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst will host their own town halls this week across the state. None of Iowa’s U.S. House members have anything scheduled. Grassley typically restricts his public events to smaller, Republican-leaning counties during early hours of the day. He hasn’t held a public meeting […]

ID Bill Won’t Fix Bigger Election Integrity Problem

It’s fair to say many Iowans worry about our elections. They are concerned shenanigans are going to change the outcome of the voting. But from where I sit, our concerns are misdirected — as headlines last week indicate. More about that shortly. In 2012, Iowa’s secretary of state at the time, Matt Schultz, launched a two-year investigation of possible voting fraud and election misconduct. After spending $250,000, charges were filed against 27 people who had voted, or registered to vote, when they were not eligible. In the end, prosecutors obtained a half-dozen convictions or guilty pleas. Most of the cases […]

Eyeing Gubernatorial Run, Todd Prichard Puts Focus On Pocketbook Issues

For a party that hasn’t seen a major, non-presidential statewide victory in over a decade, Iowa Democrats are looking for a special kind of candidate in 2018: one that can win. Friends of State Representative Todd Prichard believe he could fill that role, and Prichard is now strongly considering a run for governor. On paper, Prichard, 42, fits many of the qualities Democrats say they want more of in their statewide candidates: an Iraq War veteran, younger, represents rural Iowa, and personally understands working-class issues. That certainly sounds to many like the profile of a Democrat who could win back the […]

Abby Finkenauer Considering Run For Congress In Iowa’s 1st District

Second-term U.S. House member Rod Blum could face second-term Iowa House member Abby Finkenauer in his reelection campaign in 2018. Finkenauer, the 28-year-old Democratic legislator from Dubuque, has been strongly considering a run against the Republican incumbent for several months now. Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, where Blum won by 53.7% to 46.1% over Monica Vernon in 2016, will likely be heavily targeted by both parties once again. “I’ve been listening to my constituents and friends across the 1st District who are asking me to seriously consider running,” Finkenauer told Starting Line. “The 1st District [has] people who work hard, want a fair shot, and […]

Running For Iowa School Boards More Important Than Ever Now

Guest post from Josh Hughes, Iowa’s youngest school board member It has been a rough, rough few weeks for public education both in Iowa and nationwide. Last Monday, Iowa House and Senate Republicans underfunded Iowa schools with a meager 1.1% increase in public education allocations, the third-lowest amount since 1973. Then on Tuesday the United States Senate voted to confirm Betsy DeVos, a woman whose only notable contribution to the world of education has primarily been monetary gifts to the Republican Party. Finally, this week Republicans at the Iowa Capitol, after ignoring thousands of calls and emails in opposition to the […]

The List Of Corporate Donors That Bought Collective Bargaining Vote

If you turned on your TV in Iowa recently, you’d think we’re back in campaign season. Priorities for Iowa is running many TV ads in support of Republicans’ union-busting, anti-collective bargaining bill. The group’s other operations have been funded by giant corporate sponsors from outside the state. Why have giant corporate hedge funds, coal companies, real estate moguls, bankers, pharmaceutical companies, agricultural conglomerates and the World Wrestling Association spent over $1 million to influence Iowans? Many of these donors are multi-billionaires that give to Republican candidates and support the ALEC agenda. What do these corporate giants expect to get for their investment? […]

Democrats Fight To “The Bitter End” On Collective Bargaining

Democrats stalled the vote on Republicans’ fast-tracked bill to gut Iowa’s collective bargaining bill for as long as they could, but the legislation eventually prevailed this afternoon. Senate File 213 passed on a 29-21 vote, with all Republicans voting in favor. All Democrats were opposed, as well as Republican-turned-Independent David Johnson. Six Republicans broke rank in the Iowa House on their 53-47 vote to pass House File 291. Those Republicans voting against were Clel Baudler, Mary Ann Hanusa, Dave Heaton, Shannon Lundgren, Andy McKean and Tom Moore. Only Lundgren and McKean represent swing districts. House Democrats delayed registering their vote until the last moment in […]