Learning from the past

Former teacher Bruce Lear, a retired regional director for the Iowa State Education Association, looks at one of the major events of the 2017 legislative session for insight on what to expect from Republican lawmakers next year. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Teddy Roosevelt said, “The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.” One piece of recent history that needs to be revisited, as the next legislative session begins, is the dismantling of Chapter 20, the collective bargaining bill. Oh, I can hear it now, “Stop whining about what happened and make the best of it.” The problem with that rationale is we still don’t know the full impact of what was done to us.

So, before we examine the possible impacts, indulge me and let’s revisit the ugly beginning of the 2017 session that culminated in Governor Terry Branstad signing the bill on the cold morning of February 17.

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Breaking down Todd Wendt's stunning over performance in Senate district 3

Josh Hughes is a Drake University undergraduate and vice president of the I-35 school board. -promoted by desmoinesdem

On Tuesday night, Republican State Representative Jim Carlin won a special election for Iowa Senate District 3 by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin. The district became open when Senator Bill Anderson resigned to take a new job midway through his term. Democrats nominated former Le Mars School District superintendent and son of a longtime Siouxland legislator, Todd Wendt. Despite not quite making it over the finish line, Todd Wendt massively over performed every Democrat in this area in recent memory.

How big of a deal was Wendt’s over performance? In the words of former Vice President Biden, it’s a “BFD,” and big enough that it’s sufficiently distracted me from studying for my final exams this week. So in the spirit of extended analysis of a local election, I have maps, spreadsheets, and a whole Twitter thread on the topic. Get your snorkels kids, it’s time for a deep dive into local elections.

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Exclusive: First look at a costly, regressive Iowa Republican tax plan

Iowa Republican senators are considering a proposal to reduce individual and corporate tax rates and eventually phase out the state’s already-limited inheritance tax. The plan would increase revenue by making more goods and services subject to the sales tax, but those provisions would be difficult to move through the legislature, and even if enacted, would replace a small fraction of the money our cash-strapped state stands to lose from the tax cuts.

Governor Kim Reynolds told journalists this week she won’t reveal specifics about her tax plan–a top priority for 2018–until she delivers her Condition of the State address on January 9. She indicated she is waiting to see how Congress amends the federal tax code.

However, Senate GOP lawmakers and staff have received a detailed set of proposals for review. Bleeding Heartland obtained a lengthy memo describing “the tax reform plan prepared for the Governor’s Office” and estimating the fiscal impact of those changes. As with pending GOP legislation at the federal level, the largest benefits would flow to the wealthiest Iowans.

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John Norris for a better future

Scott County activist Emilene Leone joined the statewide steering committee for John Norris last month. Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts advocating for candidates in competitive Democratic primaries. Please read these guidelines before writing. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I am strongly endorsing John Norris for Iowa governor, and I encourage all concerned parents here in Iowa to do the same. John Norris is the best choice to protect Iowa’s future for our children.

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Who benefits from expanding options on teacher retirement plans?

Randy Richardson, retired associate executive director of the Iowa State Education Association, shares the backstory on regulations Iowa Republicans weakened during this year’s legislative session. -promoted by desmoinesdem

On December 8, Bleeding Heartland shared a post entitled “Iowa Republicans Found Yet Another Way to Hurt Teachers This Year.” The post outlines the passage of House File 569, a bill that allowed 30 additional vendors to offer 403(b) products to teachers starting this year. GOP State Senator Tim Kraayenbrink, who is also a financial adviser, dismissed Democrats’ claims that the array of investments would be too confusing and allow companies to charge exorbitant fees on teachers’ savings. But is that accurate?

As someone who was very involved in the transition to the Retired Investors Club that is administered by the Department of Administrative Services, I thought it might be a good time to revisit why this all took place.

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