[Bleeding Heartland Logo]

About
Bleeding Heartland is a community blog about Iowa politics: campaigns and elections, state government, social and environmental issues. Bleeding Heartland also weighs in on presidential policies and campaigns, federal legislation and what the Iowans in Congress are up to. Join our community, post your thoughts as comments or diaries, help keep our leaders honest and hold them accountable.
Author
- desmoinesdem
Highlights
- Iowa 2012 election coverage
- Who's who in the Iowa House for 2013
- Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2013
- Iowa wildflowers
2014 Election Coverage
- Absentee ballot numbers
- IA-Sen
- IA-Gov
- IA-01
- IA-02
- IA-03
- IA-04
- Secretary of Agriculture
- Secretary of State
- State Auditor
- Iowa Senate overview
- Iowa House overview
- Senate district 5
- Senate district 7
- Senate district 9
- Senate district 13
- Senate district 15
- Senate district 17
- Senate district 27
- Senate district 29
- Senate district 39
- Senate district 41
- Senate district 47
- Senate district 49
- House district 8
- House district 15
- House district 25
- House district 26
- House district 28
- House district 30
- House district 33 (2013)
- House district 40
- House district 51
- House district 60
- House district 63
- House district 65
- House district 68
- House district 73
- House district 82
- House district 91
- House district 92
- House district 95
- House district 99

Upcoming Events
- No upcoming events
- Add Event

Search




Advanced Search


Paid Advertising


Bleeding Heartland
It's what plants crave.

Countering Bloated Economic Impact Reports

by: daveswen

Thu Nov 20, 2014 at 10:58:17 AM CST

(Thanks to Dave Swenson for this post. Journalists should stop quoting self-serving, industry-generated economic impact numbers. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Iowa was recently informed with quite a bit of media hoopla that the proposed Dakota Access pipeline conveying oil from the Bakken formation in North Dakota to a refinery in Illinois will give a "$1.1 billion boost" to the Iowa economy and support 7,600 jobs.
 
Both numbers are hooey.
 
Before I get to the hooey, however, I need to talk a little bit about economic impact studies.  These studies usually utilize an input-output model of the study region.  These models are initially constructed properly, and they provide reasonable and reliable estimates of the multiplied-through consequences of economic change. Those consequences are often called "the ripple effect" because a change in activity in one industry affects all of the industries that business relies on for inputs; hence, the economic impact.  Done properly, they are useful tools for economic development planning.
 

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 938 words in story)

Ten links to celebrate National Adoption Month

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Nov 20, 2014 at 10:24:58 AM CST

Adoption has been a blessing to many of my friends and some relatives, so after the jump I've posted ten links to celebrate National Adoption Month.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. By the way, did you know that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack was adopted as a baby in Pennsylvania?

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 352 words in story)

Mid-week open thread: Double standards on crime edition

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 19, 2014 at 19:42:29 PM CST

What's on your mind, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Today's Des Moines Register featured a front-page article by Kathy Bolten about the massive racial disparity in arrest rates across Iowa. The piece contained new analysis and statistics on a longstanding problem in our state. I've posted some excerpts after the jump. This database includes detailed from 41 Iowa law enforcement jurisdictions that "arrest blacks at a higher rate than people of other races." Iowa-Nebraska NAACP President Betty Andrews noted that when blacks and whites are detained for the same alleged offenses, police are more likely to charge blacks. The American Civil Liberties Union found last year, "Iowa has the largest racial disparity in the country of arrests in marijuana possession, with blacks being more than eight times as likely to be arrested than whites, even though whites use marijuana at about the same rate [...]."

Speaking of double standards, MacKenzie Elmer reported for the Des Moines Register last week that on October 3, an Urbandale police officer let Joni Ernst's spokeswoman Gretchen Hamel get away with driving drunk. Knowing that an arrest would get her fired, he let Hamel off with a warning. I've posted excerpts from that piece after the jump too. Raise your hand if you think a non-white drunk driver who initially lied to the police would have received the same sympathetic hearing from an Urbandale cop. Less than a month later, Hamel was arrested in West Des Moines for OWI. Fortunately, she didn't kill or seriously injure anyone in the meantime.

Hamel's arrest occurred on October 29, and she resigned from the Ernst campaign the following day. Surely reporters covering the IA-Sen race would have noticed that Ernst's primary press contact was gone. Yet the Register's first report on the incident appeared on the newspaper's website on November 6 and in print the following day. Republican blogger Craig Robinson breathed a sign of relief: "Can you imagine the mess this would have created for Ernst if it had gotten out before Election Day?"

The delay fueled some suspicions that the Register held back the Hamel story until after the election. Given Ernst's margin of victory, this news could not have affected the outcome, but getting knocked off message in the final days could have been significant in a close campaign. On November 7, I asked the Register's political reporters Jennifer Jacobs and Jason Noble when they noticed Hamel was gone and when they found out why.

After getting no response for two days, I took the same questions to the Des Moines Register's Editor and Vice President Amalie Nash. She responded promptly,

Thanks for asking the question. We published the story on Gretchen Hamel's arrest as soon as we were able to confirm it. We were aware she had exited the campaign and inquired with Joni Ernst's staff as soon as we found out she was gone. We were told she submitted her resignation due to a "drinking incident," but the campaign declined to release additional details. We continued asking questions of other sources until we were able to find out where the incident occurred and get details from the police department. As soon as we got confirmation of her arrest, we published a story.

I was confused about why it took the Des Moines Register so long to confirm Hamel's arrest. Details about the case were posted on the Iowa Courts Online website on October 30 and 31. Searching for Hamel's name would have allowed any Register employee to confirm the arrest in seconds. Furthermore, a major newspaper presumably has a staffer checking arrest logs on a daily basis. When two WHO-TV reporters were arrested for drunk driving in Des Moines this past summer, the Register had a story up with their mugshots less than three days after the incidents.

Nash responded to my follow-up question by saying, "We have staff checking [arrest logs] daily in Des Moines, but not all surrounding communities on a daily basis." Hamel was arrested in West Des Moines and booked at the Dallas County jail. Nash later elaborated,

We received the tip that she may have been arrested on an OWI last Wednesday [November 5] and were able to confirm and publish with details by Thursday [November 6].

As I noted, we don't do daily stops at the West Des Moines Police Department to check arrest logs. We get over there as much as we can, but do not have the staffing to make a daily visit.

It seems unlikely that political reporters who talk frequently with Republican sources would not have heard anything about Hamel's arrest until seven days after the fact. And if that's true, I wonder why Jennifer Jacobs and Jason Noble didn't just say so when I first asked them about it. In any event, that's the official explanation from the Des Moines Register.

UPDATE: Some Iowa politics-watchers have asked me why it matters when the Register covered Hamel's arrest. Although Ernst was winning the IA-Sen race regardless, it matters if anyone at any level in the Register's newsroom held back a story to preserve good relations with and access to people around the senator to be.

The Des Moines rumor mill says other area reporters had the story about Hamel's OWI but decided against running it, period. We can debate whether it's newsworthy that a campaign staffer was driving drunk. But Register Editor Amalie Nash takes a different position: the incident "was newsworthy, which is why we published a story as soon as we learned of her arrest." It is frankly hard to believe that no one in the newsroom knew about that event before November 5.

P.S. I forgot to mention that Annah Backstrom, the Register's "content strategist for politics," also declined to answer my straightforward question about when staff at the newspaper found out why Hamel was no longer working for Ernst.  

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 470 words in story)

Senate roundup: Harkin, Grassley split on Keystone XL, limits on NSA spying, and judges

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 19, 2014 at 12:53:16 PM CST

Iowa's Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin rarely found themselves in agreement during a busy day on the Senate floor yesterday. A bill to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project fell one vote short of the 60-vote threshold to defeat a filibuster. The roll call shows that Grassley was among the 59 yes votes (all Republicans plus 14 Democrats), while Harkin was among the 41 Democrats who defeated the bill. Scroll to the end of this post to read Grassley's statement on the failure to pass this measure. He backs an "all-of-the-above approach to meet the country's energy needs and give consumers choice." He does not address the reality that oil transported via Keystone XL would likely be sold to foreign markets, having no effect on domestic gasoline prices.

Although several of the pro-Keystone Democrats just lost their seats in this year's elections, nine of them will continue to serve next year. That means future Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have the votes to overcome a filibuster of future bills on the pipeline. He won't have the 67 votes needed to overcome a presidential veto, but Republicans have vowed to attach Keystone language to "must-pass" bills that President Barack Obama won't want to veto.

Senators also blocked a bill that would have attempted to rein in domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency. Timothy B. Lee wrote a good backgrounder on the USA Freedom Act. The cloture vote failed by 58 to 42. Like almost all the Senate Democrats, Harkin voted for proceeding to debate the bill. Like all but four Republicans, Grassley voted to block efforts to reduce NSA spying on Americans. Members of Congress will revisit this issue next year, but I'm not optimistic any reforms will pass.

Side note: among the senators who are possible Republican presidential candidates in 2016, Ted Cruz voted for the USA Freedom Act. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio voted no. Paul opposed the bill because it did not go far enough, in his view; Rubio voted no because he thought the bill would increase the risk of terrorist attacks in this country.

Last week and this week, the Senate has moved forward on several nominees for vacant judicial spots on U.S. district courts. Harkin supported confirming all of the president's nominees. Grassley voted against cloture on all of the nominations, but Republicans were not able to block any of them from a vote on the floor, because the 60-vote threshold no longer applies to most confirmations. (That could change when Republicans take control of the chamber in the new year.) On the confirmation votes themselves, Grassley opposed most of the judges nominated by the president, with one exception last week and another exception yesterday. Many expect judicial confirmations to stop happening when Grassley becomes chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but perhaps he will let a few non-controversial nominees through.

A bill reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant gained massive bipartisan support on Monday, passing by 88 votes to 1. Both Grassley and Harkin backed this bill. In a statement I've enclosed after the jump, Harkin explained how this bill "will expand access to and improve the quality of child care for the more than 1.5 million children and families that benefit from the federal child care subsidy program." President Obama signed this bill today, and Representative Dave Loebsack (D, IA-02) attended the ceremony. He worked on the bill as ranking member of the House Education and Labor subcommittee that covers early childhood issues. I posted Loebsack's statement below Harkin's.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

Note: Over the years I've written dozens of posts about Grassley and Harkin splitting on Senate votes. I expect that to end for the most part in January. If Joni Ernst votes differently from Grassley even five times over the next two years, I'll be shocked.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1404 words in story)

House Democratic leaders blew it on proxy vote for Tammy Duckworth

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 19, 2014 at 09:45:00 AM CST

The Democratic Party has long championed issues of importance to working women, such as equal pay and ending discrimination in the workplace. Yet party leaders in the U.S. House just denied Representative Tammy Duckworth a proxy vote for this week's elections on committee members. The official story is that granting a proxy vote to Duckworth (who is eight months pregnant and has received medical advice against traveling) would "set a precedent." Another House Democrat had requested a proxy vote to allow her to attend a funeral.

What an absurd excuse. Going to a funeral instead of to your job is a personal choice unrelated to health or medical concerns.

Many people in the House Democratic caucus are unhappy about the decision and suspect the "slippery slope" argument was just a cover story.

Members and aides are privately seething over what they see as Pelosi's latest attempt to stack the deck against Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., who is running for ranking member on the Energy and Commerce Committee against Pelosi's closest friend and fellow Californian, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo.

And many members are concerned about the optics of not allowing Duckworth a proxy vote when Democrats are supposed to be the party that fights for women. Democrats have tried to make electoral gains by touting the "When Women Succeed, America Succeeds" economic agenda.

"Our party should be the party that stands up for women," Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida said in a caucus meeting Tuesday morning, according to a source in the room.

A source also said that civil-rights icon and longtime Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis was fighting Pelosi's refusal: "We will pay a price for not doing this," he reportedly said.

KJ Dell-Antonia pointed out at her New York Times blog, "Pregnant women are protected by the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, but protection against discrimination does not require accommodation." That's one reason why President Barack Obama "has repeatedly called on Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, (PWFA), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed federal lawsuits recently against companies" that allegedly fired pregnant workers.

If Nancy Pelosi can't see the simple logic here, House Democrats should elect a minority leader who does.

UPDATE: On Wednesday the House Democratic caucus chose Pallone as ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Three political realities that should worry Republicans

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 18, 2014 at 16:50:48 PM CST

Republicans had a lot to celebrate on November 4, and Democrats have plenty to worry about after the midterm election debacle.

But all is not rosy in GOP world either. If I were a Republican, I'd be particularly concerned about three things.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 1150 words in story)

Five political realities that should worry Democrats

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 18, 2014 at 12:19:45 PM CST

Two weeks after election day, political junkies like me are still processing what happened. Losing control of the U.S. Senate was the most obvious bad outcome for Democrats, but maybe not the most concerning one. The Senate map for 2016 gives Democrats a lot of opportunities to make up ground.

Five other political realities have been bothering me more.  

There's More... :: (9 Comments, 1355 words in story)

Twitter was used in "cutting edge" scheme to evade campaign finance laws

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 17, 2014 at 23:00:00 PM CST

The Federal Election Commission rarely enforces laws against coordination between political campaigns and groups making independent expenditures for and against candidates. Meanwhile, outside spending is exploding to the point that in some races, independent expenditures dwarf money spent by the candidates.

As a result, each election cycle brings more actions that raise suspicions of campaigns and outside groups coordinating their work. In Iowa's U.S. Senate race, Joni Ernst's campaign magically knew exactly when to launch a very small ad buy to maximal effect--on the same day an outside group released a months-old unflattering video of Bruce Braley. Later on, a super PAC came into existence solely to run a $1 million television commercial targeting Braley, and that super PAC just happened to be headquartered in the same office as a senior consultant for Ernst's campaign.

CNN's Chris Moody reported today on a newly uncovered, brazen scheme to share information between campaigns and political advocacy groups. Click through to read his whole piece about Twitter accounts that communicated polling data from competitive U.S. House races.

At least two outside groups and a Republican campaign committee had access to the information posted to the accounts, according to the source. They include American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Karl Rove; American Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy group, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is the campaign arm for the House GOP. [...]

The accounts that CNN reviewed were active in the months ahead of this month's election, which gave Republicans their largest majority in the House since World War II and control of the Senate. They were live until Nov. 3 but deleted minutes after CNN contacted the NRCC with questions. [...]

The tweets captured by screenshots stretched back to July, but the groups have communicated in this manner for four years, the source said. Staffers for each group deleted individual tweets every few months, so only the past few months of data were available when CNN first viewed the Twitter accounts.

Deleting online content minutes after a journalist starts asking questions sends a strong signal that these operatives knew they were doing something shady. Moreover, Philip Bump noticed that the American Action Network was one of the biggest outside spenders in the Congressional race in Florida's 26th district. That race was the apparent focus of at least one now-deleted tweet containing polling data, which showed a very close race in FL-26.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Loebsack joins House Republicans to back Keystone XL pipeline

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 17, 2014 at 12:26:11 PM CST

On Friday the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill to build the Keystone XL pipeline by 252 votes to 161. The roll call shows that all 221 Republicans present supported the bill, including Tom Latham (IA-03) and Steve King (IA-04). Dave Loebsack (IA-02) was among 31 Democrats who joined them. Bruce Braley (IA-01) voted no, along with the majority of the Democratic caucus.

Ed Tibbetts reported for the Quad-City Times that Loebsack's support was "a change from his vote on a similar measure last year." But Loebsack has repeatedly voted for language backing construction of the Keystone pipeline, even if he has not backed every Republican bill on that subject.

Braley also supported Keystone XL at one time, but changed his mind after realizing that the project was not going to live up to promises made about jobs or the ultimate destination of the oil. Loebsack must know those facts too, but he chooses to hide behind talking points: "I was skeptical of side stepping the normal processes, but the jobs attached to building the Keystone Pipeline are too important and can no longer be tied to DC gridlock." No doubt organized labor's support for the pipeline influenced Loebsack's vote.

The U.S. Senate will take up a similar bill on Keystone this week.  Democrat Mary Landrieu is pushing the legislation in a desperate attempt to save her Senate seat. Reality: she is going to lose next month's Louisiana runoff election regardless of what happens with the pipeline.

The White House has "hinted" but not explicitly stated that President Barack Obama would veto legislation designed to force approval of Keystone XL. Obama commented last week,

"Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn't have an impact on U.S. gas prices. If my Republican friends really want to focus on what's good for the American people in terms of job creation and lower energy costs, we should be engaging in a conversation about what we are doing to produce more homegrown energy."

Even if the president blocks this attempt, Congressional Republicans will likely include Keystone language in various must-pass bills until Obama goes along sometime next year.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. Blad Plumer's backgrounder on the key arguments for and against the pipeline is a good read.

P.S. I disagree with Paul Deaton's claim that Keystone XL is merely a distraction ("bright shiny object"). He argues that the environmental movement failed by targeting this pipeline instead of making a broader case against tar sands oil. Blocking this pipeline may not be sufficient to keep the tar sands oil in the ground, but it is certainly a necessary condition.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Kent Sorenson has more positive drug tests

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 17, 2014 at 09:15:00 AM CST

Awaiting sentencing for concealing payments received for helping Ron Paul's presidential campaign, former State Senator Kent Sorenson has now tested positive three times for marijuana use, the Associated Press reported last week. Sorenson's attorney had said the first positive test was caused by drug use prior to the plea agreement. In a more recent court document,

A lab toxicologist gave an opinion on Oct. 28 that Sorenson "reused marijuana prior to the collections on Oct. 7 and Oct. 21," which would amount to a second violation of his release conditions, she wrote.

I'd like to hear from members of the Bleeding Heartland community who are familiar with the criminal justice system: would evidence of more recent marijuana use likely affect the sentence Sorenson will receive, even though the crimes to which he pled guilty are unrelated to illegal drug use?

Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu reflected on Sorenson's "perfect hypocrisy," since as a state senator he "voted to subject welfare recipients to random drug tests, at their own expense, even if they had no history of drug abuse." I've enclosed excerpts from her latest piece after the jump.

Various states that have introduced drug testing for welfare recipients have found the tests "ended up costing taxpayers more than it saved and failed to curb the number of prospective applicants," and that welfare recipients use illegal drugs at rates significantly lower than the general population.  

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 335 words in story)

Weekend open thread, with health care reform links

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Nov 15, 2014 at 23:20:00 PM CST

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

The enrollment period for 2015 health insurance coverage began today and runs through February 15. Approximately "23,000 people nationwide successfully submitted applications to enroll or re-enroll in health insurance plans" today at Healthcare.gov. The Obama administration has set a target of 9.1 million enrollees for 2015. As of this past April, approximately 29,000 Iowans had selected a health insurance plan through the federal marketplace. But roughly double that number are eligible to enroll in a marketplace plan.

Democrats in the Iowa Senate advocated for creating a state portal where Iowans could buy health insurance under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. However, Governor Terry Branstad and Iowa House Republicans refused to go along, perhaps hoping that the health care reform law would be overturned in court or soon after the 2012 presidential election. So, Iowa formed a "partnership" exchange, whereby the state regulates insurance plans, but citizens purchase those plans on the website created and maintained by the federal government. That political decision may prove costly for tens of thousands of Iowans and millions of people in more than 30 other states.

On November 7, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal that could end tax credit subsidies for all Americans who purchase health insurance plans through the federal website. The SCOTUS blog has compiled links on the King v Burwell case here. Jonathan Cohn provides a concise explanation of how the lawsuit could "wreck Obamacare" if a Supreme Court majority finds in favor of plaintiffs, who argue that subsidies should be available only to people who purchase insurance on state exchanges.

Brianne Gorod argues here that the Supreme Court should "recognize what the statutory text makes clear, and the structure, purpose, and history of the statute all confirm: tax credits and subsidies should be available on all exchanges, state-run and federally facilitated."

Michael Cannon argues the opposite side here: namely, that the Affordable Care Act "makes no provision for subsidies in federally established exchanges."

Chief Justice John Roberts is a highly political, results-oriented judge rather than a consistent legal theorist. Will he seize this chance to destroy Obamacare, or will he allow the current system to survive, as he did in the Supreme Court ruling that left most of the Affordable Care Act intact?

The outcome of King v. Burwell should not affect roughly 105,000 Iowans who have received health insurance coverage under the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, the compromise alternative to simple Medicaid expansion in this state. According to a report by the Iowa Policy Project, those people "previously were not eligible for Medicaid or who were enrolled only in the IowaCare program." (IowaCare benefits were inferior to Medicaid in various ways.) Iowa hospitals have benefited from these policy changes, as they provided much less uncompensated care to uninsured Iowans during the first half of this year compared to the previous year.

UPDATE: Added after the jump excerpts from the Des Moines Register's unsigned editorial published on November 17. The editors note the irony of conservatives who oppose the Affordable Care Act hoping that "activist judges" will help unravel it.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 267 words in story)

Analysis shows Medicaid expansion is working in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Nov 14, 2014 at 09:40:00 AM CST

The Iowa Hospital Association was one of many health care organizations that advocated strongly for Medicaid expansion. A new analysis of care provided by Iowa hospitals shows why.

Scott McIntyre highlighted the key findings on the Iowa Hospital Association's blog yesterday.

During the first six months of this year, the number of people hospitalized in Iowa without insurance fell by 45.7 percent compared with the same period last year, an IHA analysis has found.  The analysis is based on data collected from 101 Iowa hospitals from January through June.

According to the study, out of about 159,000 hospital discharges from January to June in 2014 and 2013, 4,445 patients were uninsured this year compared with 8,181 in 2013.

[...] Because of Medicaid expansion, in a six-month span, Iowa hospitals cared for fewer uninsured patients in all settings, including patients admitted for inpatient care as well as those seeking care at hospital emergency rooms and at outpatient clinics.  Similar results are being seen in other states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. [...]

For the period January 1-June 30, overall inpatient admissions at Iowa hospitals declined 4.4 percent compared with the same period in 2013.  Within that decline, the number of uninsured hospitalized patients with no source of payment for their health care fell by 45.7 percent in 2014.

Additionally, fears that expanding coverage would make care so easily accessible that use of hospital emergency rooms would rise to unprecedented levels have not materialized, the IHA analysis found.  Total visits to emergency rooms increased less than 1 percent when comparing the six-month spans in 2013 and 2014, despite approximately 30,000 patients with new policies purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

With more Iowans now insured, hospitals' charity care losses fell 18.5 percent, yielding a total six-month improvement of $32.5 million.

During the state legislature's 2013 session, Iowa House Republicans and Governor Terry Branstad refused to expand Medicaid, but agreed to create an "Iowa Health and Wellness Plan" as a compromise. The arrangement was more complicated and more expensive than simply expanding Medicaid as foreseen under the 2010 federal health care reform law. Nevertheless, the deal was well worth it and is benefiting tens of thousands of Iowans.  

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

How would the Iowans vote on impeaching President Obama?

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Nov 13, 2014 at 21:52:20 PM CST

Over the summer, House Speaker John Boehner called speculation about impeaching President Barack Obama a "scam" cooked up by Democrats. However, various conservative Republicans have raised the prospect too. As Obama prepares to issue an executive order on immigration policy this month, some House Republicans appear ready to push for articles of impeachment.

House leaders may never allow articles of impeachment to come to a vote. In July, they pushed (and House Republicans narrowly approved) a lawsuit against the president instead. That lawsuit has not gotten off the ground, though.

Today Representative Steve King (IA-04) warned of a "constitutional crisis" if the president grants "amnesty" to undocumented immigrants. His full statement is after the jump, along with some thoughts on how King and the rest of Iowa's Congressional delegation might respond to an impeachment debate.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 823 words in story)

Iowa City recognized for strong LGBT equality policies

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Nov 13, 2014 at 17:41:44 PM CST

Iowa City received a perfect score and four other Iowa cities above-average scores in Human Rights Campaign's new Municipal Equality Index. The LGBT advocacy group evaluated 353 cities across the country to see how inclusive their "laws, policies, and services" were for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people "who live and work there." You can read more about the ratings criteria here. According to KCRG, the national average score was 59.

Iowa City was one of 38 municipalities to receive a perfect score of 100. Human Rights Campaign awarded scores of 86 to Davenport, 85 to Des Moines, 68 to Cedar Rapids, and 61 to Sioux City. Council Bluffs was not rated, but just across the Missouri River, Omaha received a score of 51.

KCRG noted in its report,

Iowa City did lose points in several areas, including not having transgender-inclusive health benefits or an ordinance requiring equal benefits from city contractors. However, the city also scored well in the bonus point system that was also part of the Human Rights Campaign's rating.

You can view the detailed Municipal Equality Index ratings on Iowa City here, Davenport here, Des Moines here, Cedar Rapids here, and Sioux City here.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Five reasons Teresa Wahlert's days are numbered at Iowa Workforce Development

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Nov 13, 2014 at 10:15:00 AM CST

I don't expect Governor Terry Branstad to replace many state agency leaders going into his sixth term, but before too long he will need to find a new head of Iowa Workforce Development. Although he will probably nominate Teresa Wahlert for that post again, the Iowa Senate will likely reject her confirmation. Here's why:

1. Wahlert needs at least ten Democrats to join the 24 incoming Iowa Senate Republicans in order to be confirmed. She was confirmed in 2011 with only two votes to spare; two of the twelve Democratic senators who backed her then no longer serve in the Iowa legislature, and several who remain in the Senate have been critical of various Branstad administration policies implemented by Wahlert.

2. Wahlert presided over dismantling staffed Iowa Workforce Development field offices in dozens of communities, following a Branstad line-item veto that was eventually struck down by a unanimous Iowa Supreme Court.

3. Wahlert is a defendant in a lawsuit filed by former Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey. Depositions are happening soon in that case, following an Iowa Supreme Court ruling earlier this year.

4. Wahlert is also a defendant in a lawsuit filed by Joseph Walsh, the former Chief Administrative Law Judge for Iowa Workforce Development. Among other things, Walsh alleges that Wahlert "interfere[d] with the administrative judicial process in order to favor employers," attempted "to illegally strip [Walsh] of his merit protection," and eventually retaliated by removing him in "a political reorganization disguised as a budget layoff."

5. Just this week, an arbitrator ruled that Wahlert "overstepped her bounds when she promoted a judge who had been demoted after complaints that she created a hostile work environment." After the jump I've posted excerpts from David Pitt's report for the Associated Press.

No wonder State Senator Janet Petersen has predicted that Wahlert would face a tough confirmation process if re-appointed by Branstad. He could save everyone a lot of time by choosing new leadership for Iowa Workforce Development.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 253 words in story)

Mid-week open thread: 2018 IA-Gov scenarios edition

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 12, 2014 at 21:15:00 PM CST

All topics are welcome in this open thread. I'd like to hear from Bleeding Heartland readers about the next race for Iowa governor. Winning that election needs to be a top priority for Iowa Democrats.

I remain 100 percent convinced that Terry Branstad will not serve out his entire sixth term. By the end of 2015, he will have set a record as the longest-serving governor in U.S. history. He is committed to "grooming" Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds to be the next governor. But Reynolds was almost unknown when Branstad selected her as his running mate. She had only two years of experience in the state legislature, all of it in the Iowa Senate minority. Before that, she had a long tenure as the Clarke County treasurer, a job that doesn't allow politicians to build up a profile outside their home county.

Since Reynolds has no constituency in the Republican base, I find it hard to imagine she could win the nomination for governor campaigning from her current job. However, if she has a year or more under her belt as governor by the spring of 2018, she might have a fighting chance in the GOP primary. Even then, I don't think other Republicans would give her a pass. Plenty of people have ambitions to succeed Branstad. I'll be surprised if Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey doesn't run for governor during the next cycle.

On the Democratic side, several state lawmakers could be credible candidates for governor. Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum considered it this past cycle but opted out for family reasons. I hope Jochum will take the plunge in 2018, as she would be a great candidate and a fantastic governor. State Senators Janet Petersen and Rob Hogg would also be excellent leaders and will probably also give this race a look.

UPDATE: Two-time candidate for secretary of state Jake Porter is considering a gubernatorial bid on the Libertarian ticket and sees both outgoing Secretary of State Matt Schultz and newly-elected Secretary of State Paul Pate as likely Republican candidates. Pate sought the GOP nomination for governor in 1998 after one term in the secretary of state's office, so he could easily do that again. I find it hard to believe that the Madison County attorney position will give Schultz a good launching pad for a gubernatorial campaign, but anything is possible.

Porter also mentioned State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald as a possible Democratic candidate. Fitzgerald considered running for governor in 2013.

SECOND UPDATE: Lots of names being floated in the comments: Bob Vander Plaats, Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, State Representative Peter Cownie, and State Senator Amy Sinclair on the Republican side; newly elected State Senator Chaz Allen or State Representative Nancy Dunkel on the Democratic side.

Erin Murphy, who covers Iowa politics for Lee Enterprises newspapers, has predicted a matchup between Jochum and Reynolds in 2018. I like Jochum's odds there, a lot.

Associated Press reporter Ryan Foley reports that Republican strategists are "keeping a close eye" on Chaz Allen. I wonder whether that may be wishful thinking on their part, as they appear to have no chance of winning Iowa Senate district 15 as long as Allen is around. I think 2018 would be a little early for him to run for governor.

I should also mention that incoming U.S. Senator Joni Ernst will probably go all-in for Reynolds in the 2018 primary. Reynolds helped to recruit Ernst for the Iowa Senate and later for the U.S. Senate race.

THIRD UPDATE: Some Iowa politics-watchers expect State Senator Liz Mathis to run for governor in 2018. I don't think she would run against Petersen or Jochum in a primary, though, and I consider either of them more likely to run than Mathis.

Discuss :: (15 Comments)

Iowa named one of "worst states for Black People"

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 12, 2014 at 18:33:03 PM CST

Many Iowans think of our state as a great place to settle down, thanks to relatively low unemployment, crime rates, living costs, and other quality of life factors (such as short commute times). After considering 44 criteria, the StateMaster website ranked Iowa the sixth best state to live. The latest Kids Count report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranked Iowa third in terms of children's well-being.

So Danielle C. Belton's article for The Root last week should be a wake-up call. For the roughly 102,000 Iowans who are African-American, this state doesn't stack up nearly as well against the competition. In fact, Belton considers Iowa the fourth-worst state for black people.

If you're black and into marijuana, avoid Iowa. The state arrests blacks at a rate eight times higher than whites for marijuana possession, despite the rate of drug usage between blacks and whites being about the same. For years, Iowa also held the title for locking up black people at a higher rate than any other state (it recently lost that crown to Wisconsin). While other states have large prison populations, what makes Iowa stand out is that it's a relatively small state with a small population. In fact, its black population is only about 3 percent. Adding insult to injury, the poverty rate among African Americans in Iowa is 31 percent, compared with 11 percent for white Iowans.

The massive racial disparity in Iowa's arrest and imprisonment rates has been one of the country's worst for a long time. Way back in 2005, Bruce Dixon of the Black Commentator highlighted Iowa as one of the "ten worst places to be black" for this very reason. If Governor Terry Branstad wants to spend the next four years cementing his legacy as a leader who cares about all Iowans, he should try to do something about this persistent problem. I don't know how to change the culture in local law enforcement or county attorney offices, but there's no excuse for such a large disparity in whether people will be arrested or charged for the same unlawful behavior. Surely the governor's staff could research, and Branstad could propose, policies Iowa can adapt from other states that have addressed this problem.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Bob Krause exploring U.S. Senate bid against Chuck Grassley

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 12, 2014 at 09:25:00 AM CST

Bob Krause a former state representative and longtime activist for Iowa veterans, announced yesterday that he is exploring a challenge to U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley in 2016. I've posted his statement after the jump.

Krause sought the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2010 and finished second with just under 13 percent of the vote. Last year he considered running for governor in 2014 but declined to move forward, saying he had decided to run against Grassley instead.

Grassley announced last year that he plans to seek a seventh term in the U.S. Senate. He would be 83 years old in November 2016 election and 89 years old if he served out a full term. Nevertheless, he will be the prohibitive favorite against any Democratic challenger. I believe Grassley plans to retire in 2022 and hopes his grandson, State Representative Pat Grassley, will be well-positioned to succeed him by then. If Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey runs for governor in 2018, as many Iowa politics-watchers expect, Pat Grassley will likely leave the Iowa House to run for secretary of agriculture that year.

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 415 words in story)

Veterans Day links and discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 11, 2014 at 21:16:43 PM CST

November 11 was first celebrated as "Armistice Day" in 1919 and became a national holiday in 1926. Congress changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day in 1954. Any thoughts about military service or veterans issues are welcome in this thread.

Earlier this year, the Iowa legislature approved several bills supporting Governor Terry Branstad's Home Base Iowa Initiative. Some details are after the jump. Branstad himself is a veteran, and he tapped former U.S. Representative Leonard Boswell to co-chair the initiative.

The decline of veterans in Congress continues. Thirty years ago, about a third of the members of Congress had military experience. But only 81 of the 435 newly-elected members of the House of Representatives and thirteen of the 100 U.S. Senators have served or are serving in the U.S. military. No one in Iowa's incoming U.S. House delegation has served in the military, although several have veterans in their immediate families. Outgoing U.S. Senator Tom Harkin is a veteran, and his successor, Joni Ernst, is a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard.

Seven of the 50 people who will serve in the Iowa Senate next year have military experience: Democrats Jeff Danielson, Tom Courtney, Dick Dearden, Bill Dotzler, and Wally Horn, and Republicans Bill Anderson and Jason Schultz (just elected to the Senate for the first time after several terms in the state House).

Of the 100 people just elected to the Iowa House, nineteen have military experience. The Republican veterans who were just re-elected are Dwayne Alons, Stan Gustafson, John Landon, Dave Maxwell, Kraig Paulsen, Sandy Salmon, Quentin Stanerson, Guy Vander Linden, Matt Windschitl, and Dave Heaton. Five Republican veterans were just elected to the Iowa House for the first time: Darrel Branhagen, Ken Rizer, Zach Nunn, John Wills, and Steve Holt. Four House Democrats who are veterans were just re-elected too: Dennis Cohoon, Jerry Kearns, Todd Prichard, and Brian Meyer. Retiring House Republicans Steve Olson and Tom Shaw are also veterans, as is retiring House Democrat Roger Thomas.

Many Iowa lawmakers have immediate family members who either served in the military or are doing active duty.  

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 234 words in story)

Now he tells us: Branstad will support gas tax hike

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 11, 2014 at 09:13:50 AM CST

Two days after being re-elected to a sixth four-year term, Governor Terry Branstad finally came out for raising the gasoline tax as part of a plan to increase transportation funding. He told journalists on November 6, "The timing is good because gas prices have dropped significantly. That makes it a little more palatable to the public."

For years, a bipartisan group of legislators have been working on a bill to increase Iowa's gas tax for the first time since 1989. The governor has left them hanging again and again and again. The issue is politically charged, since gas taxes disproportionately hit lower-income drivers and residents of rural Iowa. Joni Ernst switched from supporting an increase to opposing it as soon as she started preparing to run for the U.S. Senate. Legislative leaders have long made clear that a bill raising the tax would move forward only if at least half the members of Democratic and Republican caucuses in the Iowa House and Senate were ready to vote for it.

Iowa House Republican Brian Moore believes "this is the year" a gas tax increase will happen, because the issue will be on the "front burner" when lawmakers reconvene in January. Moore was vice chair of the House Transportation Committee. He and committee Chair Josh Byrnes have worked closely on this issue with Iowa Senate Democrat Tod Bowman, who leads the transportation committee in the upper chamber.

Arguably, 2015 will be a good opportunity for bipartisan cooperation, since it's not an election year. However, I am inclined to think the gas tax increase will fail to gain broad support in either chamber. Many Iowa House Republicans are hostile to any tax increase, and what's in it for House Democrats to stick their necks out on the issue? Meanwhile, several Iowa Senate Democrats will face tough re-election bids in 2016, and Senate minority leader Bill Dix has long been close with leaders of anti-tax interest groups. Gasoline prices have dropped to relatively low levels now, but they could bounce back up by the time lawmakers would be considering a gas tax bill in February or March.

If Branstad had campaigned on this issue, he could have claimed a popular mandate for raising the gas tax. But he didn't, even when pressed on the issue during debates with challenger Jack Hatch.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. Although the road use tax fund clearly needs more money, I would hesitate to raise the gasoline tax without strong "fix-it first" language in the bill. The lion's share of additional revenue should go toward fixing roads and bridges that are in bad shape, not toward building new roads (or new lanes on existing roads) that we won't be able to maintain adequately.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)
Next >>
Menu

Make a New Account

Username:

Password:



Forget your username or password?


Recent Diaries
The morning after an election
by: hamatson - Nov 05
2 Comments
You Don't Know Jack!
by: dbmarin - Sep 19
5 Comments
Push Polling Call
by: idiosynchronic - Aug 24
2 Comments
Don't RAPE REAP
by: Supervisor Brent Oleson - Apr 09
1 Comments
Bully Bill: Vol. 1
by: natewithglasses - Mar 09
2 Comments

Recent Comments

Iowa Liberal Blogs
- Ames Progressive
- Blog For Iowa
- Essential Estrogen
- Iowa .Gif-t Shop
- Iowa Independent (archive)
- Iowa Policy Points
- Iowans for a Future That Doesn't Suck
- John Deeth
Iowa Conservative Blogs
- Hawkeye GOP
- The Bean Walker
- Caffeinated Thoughts
- The Conservative Reader: Iowa
- The Iowa Republican
Journalists' blogs and research
- 24-Hour Dorman
- Cedar Rapids Gazette government page
- Iowa Fiscal Partnership
- Iowa Policy Project
- Iowa Politics Insider
- Iowa Watchdog.org
- On Brief: Iowa's Appellate Blog
- On the Campaign Trail with Ed Tibbetts
- Newton Independent (Peter Hussmann)
- Politically Speaking
- Price of Politics, etc.
- O.Kay Henderson at Radio Iowa
Iowa Democrats
- Tom Harkin (U.S. Senator)
- Bruce Braley (IA-01)
- Dave Loebsack (IA-02)
- Iowa Democratic Party
- Iowa House Democrats
- Iowa Senate Democrats
Statistics


 
Powered by: SoapBlox