Iowa Republicans Have Gone Trump

A guest post from House Leader Mark Smith As a lifetime resident of Iowa, I am proud of our state’s progressive history. We were vehemently opposed to slavery from our beginning days and we were one of the first states to call for public education for all children.  We were one of the first states to allow people of color to purchase land and Arabella Manfield’s admission to the Iowa Bar in 1869 made her the first female attorney in the United States. That’s why our motto – “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain” – has […]

Iowa GOP Courtship Of Trump Pays Off, But At What Long-Term Cost?

It seems the effort of many top Iowa Republican elected officials and leaders to ingratiate themselves with Donald Trump has succeeded. At the rally in Des Moines yesterday, Trump pledge to keep the Iowa Caucus first in the nation, even if he has some reservations about the caucus process. “Now, you know that Iowa, they’re talking about putting you at the back of the pack, you know that, right?” Trump told the crowd of about 2,000. “Not going to happen if I win, believe me. You’re going to stay right where you are. Because there’s a great history to it, […]

Iowa Republicans: The Most Pro-Trump Party In The Country?

“We need to support Donald Trump and his choice for vice president because he will make America great again!” boomed Governor Terry Branstad at the Republican Party of Iowa’s state convention this May. “We have an opportunity once again to make America great again,” Senator Chuck Grassley said in a warm introduction of Trump in Pella way back in January, one of the first Republican U.S. Senators to stand with him on a stage. “If you vote for him, Donald Trump, as the Republican nominee, the Republican Party of Iowa and this Republican chair will be behind him one thousand […]

Terry Branstad’s Mental Health Care Crisis

Guest post from House Democratic Leader Mark Smith Dead last. That’s Iowa’s new ranking in mental health beds available for our citizens.  It’s an embarrassing ranking and a critical situation for Iowa families with loved ones suffering from mental illnesses. The ranking comes from the non-partisan Treatment Advocacy Center in a report that came out last week. It found Iowa has just 64 state beds for mental health patients, which translates into two beds for every 100,000 Iowans. Unfortunately, it gets worse. The report also found that 60% of those mental health beds are already being used by inmates in our […]

Is Governor Branstad Preparing Another Holiday Veto Spree?

Tick tock, tick tock. A stack of budget bills passed from the Iowa Legislature this session remain sitting on Governor Terry Branstad’s desk, probably collecting dust at this point. It’s been nearly a month since the Legislature adjourned on April 30th, but the Governor still hasn’t acted on many important pieces of legislation. So we’re waiting. And waiting. And waiting some more. What’s Branstad himself waiting on? Many are starting to worry that we’re about to see a repeat of last year, when Branstad issued vetoes on the K-12 funding, keeping the two mental health facilities open and higher education funds. That […]

Republicans Breaking Rank On Medicaid, Retiring Over Education

Governor Terry Branstad’s deeply unpopular Medicaid privatization plan and Statehouse Republicans’ under-funding of Iowa’s public education is starting to take a toll on GOP unity. It’s rare nowadays to see dissension among the ranks on high-profile issues at the Capitol, but three Senate Republicans turned the vote to cancel the Medicaid contracts into a bipartisan affair on Thursday, joining the Democrats to reverse Branstad’s actions. Republican Senators David Johnson, Jake Chapman and Tom Shipley all voted with Democrats on the bill. All three hail from districts west of I-35, none of which could be mistaken for a moderate. Speaker Linda […]

Cruz Gets Caught In The Branstad-Vander Plaats GOP Civil War

Ted Cruz has made a lot of enemies in Iowa. Chief among them is the ethanol industry. Now several of Cruz’s important Iowa allies may be exacerbating his problems and opposition by unwittingly dragging him into a long-running internal Iowa Republican civil war. The conflict is a fight over the future of the Iowa Republican Party, but it may prove decisive in the future of the national party. It may even make Donald Trump the nominee. Cruz’s newest critic in Iowa is none other than Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who told reporters after a renewable fuels summit in Altoona on […]

Tom Vilsack Faces Fallout After Backing Branstad’s Education Plan

Many Democrats were rather surprised to see Secretary of Agriculture and former Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack sitting next to Governor Terry Branstad on Tuesday morning. Vilsack was there to give support to Branstad’s new proposal to divert funding from schools in the one-cent sales tax to water quality projects. The plan extends the money provided to schools into 2049, but many Democrats (and some Republicans) have seen it as needlessly tying together two priorities to the same funding source that could hurt education resources in the long-run. “The ISEA is extremely disappointed that Secretary Vilsack decided to support Governor Branstad’s […]

Here We Go Again: Branstad’s Newest Ploy To Take Money From Schools

The hope that education funding might emerge as a less-controversial issue this legislative session was quickly dashed on Tuesday with Governor Terry Branstad announcing his latest plan on school funding. At a press conference at the Capitol, Branstad unveiled a new idea that would divert part of the one-cent sales tax that goes toward school infrastructure improvement to water quality projects. The proposal would extend the tax from 2029 to 2049, and use new growth in the tax for water quality instead of schools, as it originally was designed. Branstad, who called it his “biggest and boldest initiative” ever, estimated […]

Branstad Backs Eminent Domain For Pipelines, Hit Hatch On It In 2014

At a press conference this morning, Governor Terry Branstad reportedly said he favors the use of eminent domain in certain circumstances, including for pipeline projects. The biggest project currently under consideration in Iowa is the Bakken oil pipeline, which Branstad said is up to the Iowa Utilities Board to decide upon. As he has often done before, Branstad acknowledged the controversy of the subject, but still comes down in favor of it. That reminded some Iowa political watchers of the ads that were used against Jack Hatch, Branstad’s Democratic opponent in the 2014 gubernatorial election. The Republican Governor’s Association ran […]