How “Job-Killing Regulations” That Trump Hates Actually Save Lives

Don’t come knocking on my door looking for support for the Trump administration’s latest effort to get rid of what the president likes to call job-killing regulations. Why? I will answer that question, but first let me tell you about my brother-in-law, Jim. He grew up in Cedar Rapids. He served in the Army in Vietnam and received his business degree from the University of Northern Iowa. Jim was never someone who shied away from hard work. He was always thinking about other people and their needs before he would think about himself. In Vietnam, helicopter gunships were an important […]

Cedar Rapids Panhandling Ban A Solution To A Nonexistent Problem

The cost of sending kids to college has been climbing faster than people’s incomes. So a Michigan mother’s way of coping with that troubling trend has drawn considerable attention. Her “solution” is worth our examination, given the controversial direction Iowa’s second-largest city is heading. More about that shortly. Lori Truex is a school bus driver in Battle Creek, Mich. Her husband is a factory worker. Their youngest daughter, Kendall, is heading to Michigan State University this fall after spending two years at home while attending community college. Once her bus-driving ended for the summer, Lori Truex’s full-time summer “job” has […]

What The Boy Scouts Deserved To Hear

A do-over. All of us, if we are honest, have wished for the opportunity for a fresh start at something at one time or another. Our president isn’t wired that way — at least not in public — to admit that he would like to take a mulligan and try again on something. I’m no expert on presidential oratory, but I think the president’s speech last week to the National Jamboree of the Boy Scouts of America was a missed opportunity. The speech could have benefited from a do-over. If I were delivering that speech, I would have used a […]

Lack Of Transparency In Police Videos Isn’t Helping With Trust

Much of the relationship between the people and their governments is built on trust. But that relationship is fragile — especially when it appears government is going out of its way to keep the public in the dark. That’s what is occurring in Iowa too often with video recordings made by law enforcement agencies — especially when an officer has taken someone’s life or when an officer’s actions are questioned. The lack of public access to these videos is the central issue that was back in the news last week — and the Iowa Legislature needs to end these unwise […]

Fireworks, Guns, Tax Credits And The “Speed Limit Phenomenon”

My wife and I were driving down Interstate Highway 80 on Sunday, and we experienced one of the cardinal rules of law-making. You don’t read about this in the textbooks. But it’s as certain as death and taxes. The rule amounts to this: When politicians give us something, it’s not long before we want more of the same. On Sunday, we were humming along at 70 miles per hour. Even at that speed, more cars and trucks were passing us than we were passing. I’m old enough to remember when the nation grudgingly went to “double nickels” — a national […]

Congress Doesn’t Need Hypocritical Housing Allowance

Timing is everything in life. For U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, he picked an especially poor time to pitch an idea last week. The politician from Alpine, Utah, said it is difficult for members of Congress who are not wealthy to maintain a residence back in their home state and also have a second home or apartment in Washington, D.C. Chaffetz said taxpayers should provide senators and representatives with a housing stipend of $2,500 per month — that’s $30,000 each year — to offset the extra housing expense. I don’t want to come across as cold-hearted, but it’s hard to muster […]

Medicaid Cuts Could Bring Back Scenes From Bygone Era

With the Fourth of July just around the corner, that’s a sure sign summer is here. And summer traditionally means vacation season. A summer vacation that is riveted in my memory was in August 1962 when my parents, my two brothers and I piled into our Dodge and headed for Washington, D.C. There were no water parks, thrill rides or giant ball of twine to tempt us. This vacation was all about history — the U.S. Capitol, the White House, monuments and memorials, Arlington National Cemetery and George Washington’s Mount Vernon. For an 11-year-old kid who had memorized the names […]

Tax Cuts Popular; The Consequences Aren’t

Iowa has had a peek at our future, but too few people have noticed. And that’s unfortunate. In case you missed the headlines last week, moderate Republicans in the Kansas Legislature finally became fed up with the fiscal mess created by Gov. Sam Brownback’s massive tax cuts. They joined with Democrats and reversed course in dramatic fashion. Lawmakers voted to restore $1.2 billion in income taxes — that’s billion, with a “b” — that Brownback and the Legislature’s Republican-majority enacted in 2012. The tax cuts five years ago were based on Brownback’s belief, and the philosophy of many conservatives elsewhere, […]

Will Iowa Republicans Push Drug Testing For Medicaid Recipients Next?

Watch out Iowa. Our political leaders seem to get many of their ideas from our neighbors in Wisconsin, and the latest idea being considered there is a real doozy. A few years ago, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature went after collective bargaining by teachers and other state and local government employees. They succeeded in 2011 and restricted the ability of public workers to negotiate with government entities that employ them. Earlier this year, the Iowa Legislature and Gov. Terry Branstad picked up the Wisconsin playbook on collective bargaining and quickly implemented wholesale changes […]

Disparity In Funding For Rural Schools Getting Worse

We all want to believe that our children have an equal shot at opportunity and success. And we all want to believe that Iowa will deliver that equal shot. Who doesn’t remember Iowa sitting atop the national rankings year after year in college entrance exam scores? Who doesn’t remember Terry Branstad’s promises during the 2010 campaign for governor that he would make Iowa’s K-12 schools world class? But a report last week shows that Iowa lawmakers have repeatedly dropped the ball when it comes to providing funding equity for the state’s public schools. Because of disparities in the way the […]