IA-Gov: Boulton, Hubbell lead in early legislative endorsements

State Senator Nate Boulton and Fred Hubbell have locked up more support among state lawmakers than the five other Democrats running for governor combined.

Whether legislative endorsements will matter in the 2018 gubernatorial race is an open question. The overwhelming majority of state lawmakers backed Mike Blouin before the 2006 gubernatorial primary, which Chet Culver won. Last year, former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge won the nomination for U.S. Senate, even though about 60 current and 30 former Democratic lawmakers had endorsed State Senator Rob Hogg.

Nevertheless, prominent supporters can provide a clue to activists or journalists about which primary contenders are well-positioned. Where things stand:

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Auditor Mary Mosiman vouches for "stable" and "responsible" budget

Sounding more like a Republican loyalist than a hard-nosed fiscal analyst, State Auditor Mary Mosiman told reporters this week that Iowa’s budget for the year beginning July 1 is “stable” and “responsible.”

Mosiman also asserted that Iowa has “practically eliminated using one-time revenue sources for ongoing expenditures,” even though Governor Kim Reynolds recently confirmed the state will need to dip into reserve funds a second time to cover a third major revenue shortfall during the current fiscal year.

While speculating on why Iowa’s revenues have fallen well below projections, Mosiman echoed excuses offered by leading Republican politicians, ignoring a new business tax break that has been a far more important factor.

Iowa’s self-styled “Taxpayers Watchdog” may come to regret staking her credibility on the wisdom of GOP budget planning.

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IA-Gov: Ron Corbett says "exclusively Republican" push for tax reform would be "big mistake"

When Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett kicks off his Republican campaign for governor on June 20, tax reform will be a major part of his “new game plan for Iowa.”

Iowa has no shortage of Republican politicians seeking to lower taxes for those with high incomes or replace a progressive income tax structure with a flatter tax. State House and Senate leaders have promised to push for income tax cuts next year, and in her first speech as governor last month, Kim Reynolds identified “reforming Iowa’s tax structure” as her “first priority.”

But Corbett frames the case for tax reform differently from the usual GOP rhetoric about spurring investment or putting money back in people’s pockets. In a wide-ranging interview last week, the mayor repeatedly called for addressing inequities in the tax code, which now favor the wealthiest Iowans over middle-class taxpayers. He also warned it would be “a big mistake” for Reynolds to lead an “exclusively Republican” push for tax changes next year.

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Weekend open thread: Short-sighted elected officials edition

Who knew that when you tell a state agency leader to save another $1.3 million somehow, he might cut some important programs and services? Not State Representative Dave Heaton, the Republican chair of the Iowa legislature’s Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee.

Who knew that when you impeach a mayor using a kangaroo court proceeding, a judge might order the mayor reinstated while her appeal is pending? Not Muscatine City Council members.

Follow me after the jump for more on those stories. This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

I’m also interested to know what readers think about Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen’s request to waive certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act in order to bring Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield back to Iowa’s individual insurance market for 2018. Elements of the “stopgap” measure violate federal law; health care law expert Timothy Jost told the Des Moines Register’s Tony Leys that some parts of Ommen’s proposal are “extremely problematic” and not likely “doable.” Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Anna Wilde Mathews and Louise Radnofsky saw the Iowa developments as “a key test of the ability to modify the [Affordable Care Act] through executive authority.” Slate’s Jordan Weissmann agreed.

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Let's not forget who made Iowa's new medical cannabis law so useless

Iowa’s new medical cannabis law goes into effect on July 1, but “obtaining the medicine will be difficult and manufacturers said it’s unclear if the state’s effort will be viable,” Linley Sanders reported for the Associated Press this week. Her story illuminated a few reasons the law won’t help most of the people who could potentially benefit from access to cannabis derivatives.

Iowa lawmakers closed out the session with all-nighter so as not to adjourn without doing something on this issue. The previous medical cannabis law, adopted in similar last-minute fashion three years earlier, was due to expire this summer. Even for people with seizure disorders, the only conditions for which cannabis oil was allowed, the old law was too limited and unworkable.

As the new law’s defects become more obvious, we need to remember that most state legislators favored a better alternative. House Republicans thwarted their efforts.

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24 things that won't happen under Iowa's new medical cannabis law

In one of his final official acts before he departs for China, Governor Terry Branstad signed into law the last bill approved during the 2017 legislative session.

House File 524 has been portrayed as a major expansion of medical cannabis in Iowa. Whereas the 2014 law permitted the use of only one cannabis derivative (CBD oil) to treat certain seizure disorders, the new law allows the same product (cannabidiol with no more than 3 percent THC) to be used for nine medical conditions: cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, AIDS or HIV, Crohn’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease, untreatable pain, or “any terminal illness with a life expectancy under one year associated with severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, cachexia or severe wasting.” Threase Harms, who lobbied for the bill, described it as a “great next step in the process of making medical cannabis available for many folks here in Iowa who need access to it as a medical treatment.”

A more comprehensive bill, which had gained broad bipartisan support in the Iowa Senate, had the potential to improve the quality of life for thousands.

I see little evidence anything “great” will come out of legislation finalized during an all-nighter by House Republican lawmakers who refused to take up that Senate bill.

As Iowa implements the new law, the following outcomes are predictable.

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