Reynolds staff won't provide Branstad administration records to Democratic lawmaker

Governor Kim Reynolds has said many times that she was a “full partner” in former Governor Terry Branstad’s administration. Other well-placed Iowa Republicans likewise have attested to Reynolds’ role as a “full partner” or “active partner” in running state government during nearly six and a half years as lieutenant governor.

But when Democratic State Representative Chuck Isenhart recently requested communications with the governor’s office pertaining to the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, staff for Reynolds informed him that “our office cannot reach back and review and release records from the previous administration.”

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Iowa budget disaster likely to force special legislative session

Governor Kim Reynolds appears unlikely to be able to balance Iowa’s budget for the fiscal year that just ended without calling a special legislative session. The last time Iowa lawmakers needed to come back after adjournment to fix the budget was in 2002, when the country was in a recession that had begun the previous year.

This year’s huge revenue shortfalls are happening during a time of economic expansion, the result of overly optimistic planning and business tax breaks that turned out to be much more costly than officials predicted.

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July 4 thread: Legalized fireworks in Iowa

During the action-packed legislative session, I never got around to writing about the bill making fireworks sales legal in Iowa for the first time in 79 years. Even if you hadn’t heard about the change in state law, you’ve probably noticed more fireworks going off in your neighborhood at all hours of the night lately, or seen complaints about the phenomenon on your social media feeds. Although numerous local ordinances restrict the use of fireworks to a short window on or close to the 4th of July, many enthusiasts either don’t know or don’t care. I haven’t heard of many people being fined for ignoring those rules.

I’m no fan of do-it-yourself fireworks, which can be triggering for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Many veterans say unexpected or “random” explosions near their homes are more upsetting than large municipal fireworks displays, which happen at predictable times.

Amateur fireworks also cause many preventable injuries. So far this year, a Davenport teenager lost a hand, and a woman in Shueyville has third-degree burns after “a multi-shot box misfired sending a projectile” into her lap. Her four-week-old infant was lucky to escape with only cuts and a broken leg after the quick-thinking mom “tossed the baby aside before the firework exploded.”

Iowa’s long ban on fireworks sales was inspired by major fires, in particular the 1931 blaze that destroyed downtown Spencer. When House members debated Senate File 489 in April, Democratic State Representative Tim Kacena warned about incidents he had seen as a firefighter in Sioux City. Already this year, amateur fireworks have caused several serious fires, one burning down an abandoned farm house near a friend’s residence in Wayne County.

Support for the fireworks bill didn’t fall strictly along party lines. After the jump I’ve posted the Iowa House and Senate roll calls, so you can find out whom to credit or blame, depending on your perspective. This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

For those interested in the events that made July 4 a day worth celebrating, I recommend a trip Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was drafted, approved, and signed in 1776. My family recently traveled there for the first time. The highlight was the phenomenal Museum of the American Revolution, possibly the best historical museum I’ve ever seen. Plan to spend at least three or four hours there to make the most of the exhibits.

The National Constitution Center is also worth at least a half-day. My favorite parts were the temporary exhibit on the rise and fall of Prohibition, a permanent display featuring books that inspired the founding fathers, and an interactive feature (accessible on the center’s website) showing the influences on each amendment in the Bill of Rights. My kids’ favorite part of the Constitution Center was an area where you can vote for past presidents after reading genuine campaign statements about ten issues, not attached to either candidate’s name.

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IA-Gov: Ron Corbett responds to critics of his labor record

As Ron Corbett seeks the GOP nomination for governor, his support of project labor agreements in Cedar Rapids will be a leading point of attack by Republicans supporting Governor Kim Reynolds. Corbett’s stance put him on a collision course with Governor Terry Branstad in 2011. The mayor explained his reasoning in chapter 25 of his memoir Beyond Promises and in an interview with Bleeding Heartland last week.

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The good, the bad, and the ugly of Iowa’s new collective bargaining law-Part III

Former teacher and retired associate executive director of the Iowa State Education Association Randy Richardson wraps up his review of teacher contract negotiations under Iowa’s new collective bargaining law. -promoted by desmoinesdem

In the first two parts of this series, we examined how Republicans changed collective bargaining for public employees and the new law’s impact on Iowa teachers.

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IA-Gov: Ron Corbett faults Iowa officials' failure to address health insurance crisis

Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett finds it “disappointing” and “short-sighted” that neither the Iowa legislature nor the Branstad/Reynolds administration developed a plan earlier this year to address the collapse in Iowa’s individual health insurance market. By his account, state lawmakers and executive branch officials knew insurers were likely to stop selling individual policies for 2018 and should have developed “some type of backstop” instead of waiting for Congress to act.

Corbett plans to launch a Republican campaign for governor later today. He commented on Iowa’s potential health coverage crisis during a telephone interview with Bleeding Heartland last week.

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