desmoinesdem

IA-Gov: Ron Corbett's think tank running online ad campaign

When Ron Corbett announced in December that he will not seek a third term as Cedar Rapids mayor and will consider running for governor, he promised a “big surprise” at the end of his final “state of the city” address on February 22.

Corbett has long been positioning himself to run for governor. Since creating the conservative think tank Engage Iowa in late 2015, he has given dozens of speeches around the state, most often to Rotary clubs or members of local Iowa Farm Bureau chapters and Chambers of Commerce.

After Governor Terry Branstad confirmed plans to resign in order to become U.S. ambassador to China, many Iowa politics watchers speculated that Corbett would decide against seeking higher office next year. Instead of competing for the GOP nomination in an open primary, he would have to run against a well-funded sitting governor, Kim Reynolds.

To those who don’t share my view that Corbett will take on the challenge of running against a Republican incumbent, I ask: why is Engage Iowa spending money to promote Corbett’s name and catchy conservative slogans online?

Continue Reading...

New Iowa Senate Republican gun bill is unconstitutional as well as unwise

Pro-gun advocates spent a lot of money to help Republicans gain control of the Iowa Senate in last year’s elections. The GOP majority will likely move several of the gun lobby’s legislative priorities soon, including so-called “Stand Your Ground,” an amendment to Iowa’s constitution establishing the right to keep and bear arms, and relaxed rules on concealed carry permits and youth firing of handguns.

If they are smart, Republicans who venerate the Second Amendment will steer clear of State Senator Jake Chapman’s new bill, which would trample on the First Amendment and prevent potentially life-saving conversations.

Continue Reading...

Everything you want to know about Iowa's horrible new collective bargaining law

Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate voted today to dramatically reduce collective bargaining rights for some 180,000 public employees, following approximately 27 hours of debate in the Iowa Senate and fourteen and a half hours of debate in the Iowa House. GOP leaders moved House File 291 and Senate File 213 simultaneously through both chambers in order to speed up the process.

Democrats had offered dozens of amendments to the bills, which were published for the first time on February 7. Instead of allowing full discussion of every amendment, GOP leaders moved to cut off debate at a “time certain” today. That maneuver had never been used in the Iowa Senate and has been invoked only rarely in the Iowa House–including to end debate on the collective bargaining bill Republicans passed in March 2011. Debate ended in the Iowa House at noon, after which the majority quickly voted down all the remaining amendments with no discussion. Six Republicans joined all 41 Democrats to vote against the bill on final passage. Two of them, Tom Moore and Dave Heaton, are former teachers. Clel Baudler is a retired state trooper. Andy McKean and Shannon Lundgren were just elected from eastern Iowa swing districts, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans. McKean is also very familiar with Chapter 20 as a former county supervisor and longtime state lawmaker. I don’t know why Mary Ann Hanusa opposed the bill.

Senators debated all night long Wednesday into Thursday morning, with Republicans voting down every Democratic amendment. Independent State Senator David Johnson voted with Democrats on all the amendments and joined them in giving several passionate speeches. Few Republicans in either chamber chose to speak in favor of the bills, aside from Senate Labor Committee Chair Jason Schultz, House Labor Committee Chair Dave Deyoe, and State Representative Steven Holt, who floor-managed the bill and distinguished himself as the legislature’s least convincing liar. The Des Moines Register’s William Petroski summarized some of the important Democratic amendments. I didn’t stay up to watch the whole debate, so would welcome examples of some of the most absurd Republican comments, like State Senator Mark Chelgren accusing Democrats of “stalling” while his party had shown an “incredible amount of patience.” Nothing says “patient” like making sweeping changes to a 43-year-old law, affecting 180,000 Iowans, after only nine days in the legislature.

Senate leaders ended debate at 2 pm Thursday, after which Republicans voted down the remaining Democratic amendments, then substituted the text of the House bill for the Senate bill, to get the legislation to Governor Terry Branstad more quickly. Branstad’s chief of staff, Michael Bousselot, spent the final hours of debate in the Senate chamber. House File 291 eventually passed on a 29-21 Senate vote.

Iowa’s largest public-sector union, AFSCME Iowa Council 61, plans to file a lawsuit claiming the new law is unconstitutional, presumably because of the way it grants more bargaining rights to “public safety” workers than to others, many of whom do dangerous jobs. Video from a February 16 press conference by labor leaders is available here.

I enclose below statements about the bill by legislative leaders from both parties, as well as documents prepared by Iowa House Democratic and Republican staff, which discuss in more detail how House File 291 will affect collective bargaining rights for different types of public employees. Regarding substantive impacts, I also recommend the recent guest posts here by state employee Ruth Thompson, University of Northern Iowa Professor Chris Martin, and attorney James Larew, who predicted that today’s action “will be remembered as the most destructive blow to our ability to govern ourselves fairly and efficiently in nearly half a century.”

GOP spin notwithstanding, collective bargaining “reform” in Iowa was designed primarily with political goals in mind, like similar measures in other states. Republicans know that crippling public sector unions will make it harder for Democrats to win elections.

Although Republicans repeatedly claimed during the House and Senate debates that their bill would help local governments, Chapter 20 has worked so well that more than 140 school districts rushed to sign new contracts with the teachers union before the legislature acted. Boards of supervisors in several large counties passed resolutions condemning the proposal. Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson’s case against the bill is convincing.

Continue Reading...

Iowa House, Senate GOP leaders not co-sponsoring "personhood" bills

While most Iowa politics junkies were absorbed by lengthy collective bargaining debates in the state House and Senate, Republican lawmakers introduced identical “personhood” bills in both chambers on February 14.

Notably, leaders of the House and Senate are not among the co-sponsors of the bills declaring “that life is valued and protected from the moment of conception, and each life, from that moment, is accorded the same rights and protections guaranteed to all persons by the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Iowa, and the laws of this state.”

Continue Reading...

Trump least popular new president in history of Des Moines Register's Iowa poll

Less than three months after Donald Trump carried Iowa by a convincing margin (wider than his victory in Texas), only 42 percent of Iowa adults approve of the new president’s job performance. The latest Iowa survey by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom found that 49 percent of Iowans disapprove of Trump’s performance. Trump was also underwater among self-identified independents: 39 percent approval and 50 percent disapproval. Jason Noble reported for the Register,

It’s unprecedented in the history of the Iowa Poll to see a president begin his first term with such low approval ratings. Since The Des Moines Register began asking about presidential job approval in February 1964, no president in the early weeks of his first term has ever before seen more Iowans disapproving than approving. […]

Beyond his wide support [82 percent] among Republicans, Trump enjoys strong approval ratings from rural voters (64 percent), evangelical Christians (60 percent), residents of Iowa’s 4th Congressional District (55 percent), Iowans ages 35-54 (51 percent) and men (50 percent).

Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, is viewed positively by a plurality of Iowans. Forty-eight percent approve of the job he’s doing compared to 38 percent who disapprove.

This poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percent, strongly indicating Trump is below 50 percent approval in Iowa. The survey doesn’t prove the president has lost support among the Iowans who voted for him last fall, because some of the 802 respondents may not be registered, or may not be active voters. Still, Selzer has a solid track record; her firm’s final survey before the November election showed Trump expanding his lead and came closer to predicting the final margin than most other late Iowa polls. Given the many scandals Trump is already facing, due to his security lapses and manifold business conflicts of interests, not to mention keeping his national security adviser on board for weeks after Flynn lied about an inappropriate conversation with the Russian ambassador, I don’t see the president gaining popularity in Iowa anytime soon.

Continue Reading...

The real reason Iowa Republicans want to break public unions

On Tuesday the Iowa House and Senate took up companion bills seeking to destroy every significant aspect of collective bargaining for more than 100,000 public employees. Although police officers and firefighters would be exempt from some provisions of House File 291 and Senate File 213, they too would lose important workplace protections.

As Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson explained in his written comments to Iowa lawmakers, the collective bargaining system that has been in place since 1974 works well. Local governments don’t need the legislature to be “big brother to us by dictating our collective bargaining rules.” Oleson characterized the Republican bill as a “solution in search of a problem,” driven by “pure and raw partisan politics”: “This bill takes a sledgehammer to the pesky fly that has been labor leaders you dislike. And that’s what this really is…payback! Political payback.”

Here’s what Republicans stand to gain by smashing that fly.

Continue Reading...
View More...