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Leonard Boswell

Iowa legislative news roundup: dead and alive after the second funnel

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 13:59:29 PM CDT

The Iowa legislature's second "funnel" deadline passed late last week. To remain eligible for debate during the remainder of this year's session, most legislation needed to have passed one chamber as well as a committee in the other chamber. There are a few exceptions to the rule, namely appropriations bills and some tax measures. Rod Boshart listed the most significant "dead" and "alive" bills for the Cedar Rapids Gazette. The Iowa House Republican staff compiled a more comprehensive list of "second funnel survivors," including bill summaries. The Iowa Senate Democratic staff highlighted the most important bills passed by the Senate that died in the House.

After the jump I've enclosed more links and some analysis on bills that died as well as those still under consideration. From my perspective, the most surprising casualty of the funnel was a bill to extend the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children (see the "safety and crime" section below).

Any comments on pending legislation in the Iowa House or Senate are welcome in this thread.  

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Branstad names Leonard Boswell to Iowa Transportation Commission

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 07:05:00 AM CST

Yesterday Governor Terry Branstad appointed former U.S. Representative Leonard Boswell to the Iowa Transportation Commission. Boswell will replace former Iowa Senator Tom Rielly, whom the governor named to the commission in 2013. According to the press release I've posted after the jump, Rielly "resigned from the commission due to a business-related conflict of interest."

Boswell served in the Iowa Senate during much of Branstad's previous tenure as governor. During this year's Condition of the State address, Branstad recognized Boswell for his work co-chairing the governor's "Home Base Iowa" initiative to attract more veterans to Iowa.

While serving in Congress, Boswell rightly called attention to the poor condition of many roads and bridges across the state and in the Des Moines metro area. From my perspective, he was too eager to support some new road construction projects that were potentially harmful and not justified by traffic flows. But without question, he is knowledgeable about Iowa's infrastructure needs and qualified to serve on the transportation commission.

I'll be curious to see whether Iowa Senate Republicans put up a fight against Boswell. To be confirmed, he will need support not only from the 26 Senate Democrats but also from at least eight of the upper chamber's 24 Republicans. Last year, Republicans resisted confirming their former Democratic colleague Tom Rielly to the transportation commission, prompting Branstad to withdraw the nomination during the legislative session and appoint Rielly on an interim basis after lawmakers had adjourned for the year.  

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Highlights from Branstad's 2014 Condition of the State address

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 12:47:35 PM CST

Governor Terry Branstad delivered his annual "Condition of the State" address to Iowa lawmakers this morning. By Branstad's standards, it was not a partisan speech. He drew several standing ovations from legislators in both parties, and it's easy to imagine the Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate embracing most of the policies he advocated. In fact, immediately after the speech, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal told Iowa Public Television's Dean Borg that he "didn't hear anything" he disagreed with. Gronstal did get in a quick jab at the governor, though, pointing out that Branstad hailed "predictability" for the state budget, which is what statehouse Democrats are seeking for school districts. During the last two years, House Republicans and Branstad have refused to comply with Iowa law requiring the legislature to set allowable growth levels for K-12 school districts a year in advance.

Highlights from the governor's speech are after the jump. Click here to read the full text, as prepared. Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

Stylistic note: for a guy who's been in politics as long as Branstad has, he keeps his eyes glued to his script a lot. Experienced public speakers typically make more eye contact with the audience.  

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IA-Gov: Leonard Boswell, 14 legislators endorse Jack Hatch (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 19:55:00 PM CDT

State Senator Jack Hatch's campaign released a list of prominent Iowa endorsers today, including eight-term U.S. Representative Leonard Boswell, eight Iowa Senate Democrats (Dennis Black, Joe Bolkcom, Tom Courtney, Dick Dearden, Matt McCoy, Steve Sodders, Joe Seng, and Rich Taylor), and six Iowa House Democrats (Ako Abdul-Samad, Marti Anderson, John Forbes, Ruth Ann Gaines, Bruce Hunger, and Frank Wood). Several of those lawmakers stood with Hatch during his statewide tour last month to announce his candidacy. Others had not taken a public stand in the governor's race before today, to my knowledge.

I've posted the Hatch campaign's press release after the jump. Boswell and several of the endorsers cited Hatch's experience and record of legislative accomplishments, themes I expect to hear repeatedly during the next eight months. Hatch's main Democratic primary competition, State Representative Tyler Olson, has support from more than two dozen state lawmakers but doesn't have nearly as much legislative experience. Nor is he known for doing the heavy lifting on many bills that have become law.

This comment from Senator Tom Courtney jumped out at me from today's press release: "Anyone can floor manage a bill passed out of another chamber or sign on as a co-sponsor to an existing bill, but Jack has shown real leadership throughout his time in public service - creating new ideas, finding allies, drafting legislation, and fighting to see it succeed in the legislative process." I read that as a subtle swipe at Olson, because his major legislative accomplishment was floor-managing the public smoking ban in 2008--a cause initially pushed by other legislators, including Janet Petersen and Staci Appel. Highlighting Hatch's "new ideas" is also an implicit rebuttal to Olson's promise to provide "fresh leadership" for the next 30 years.

Any comments about the governor's race are welcome in this thread. UPDATE: Added details below on the Hatch campaign's steering committee.

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IA-Sen: Previewing Braley's case to Iowa voters

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 14:05:00 PM CDT

Representative Bruce Braley's campaign for the U.S. Senate has steadily rolled out endorsements this month. Eight labor unions have backed Braley's Senate bid so far, joined today by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and Iowa State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald.

Since Braley lacks any competition in the Democratic primary, these endorsements aren't newsworthy at face value. However, a closer look at the announcements points to five major themes the Braley campaign will highlight over the next 19 months.

UPDATE: Added a sixth theme below.

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Iraq War 10th anniversary links and discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 16:32:00 PM CDT

Ten years ago, President George W. Bush made the disastrous mistake of taking this country to war against Iraq. I've posted some links about the costs and casualties of war after the jump.

Any relevant thoughts are welcome in this thread. I appreciate the work and commitment of those who tried to derail the speeding train toward invasion, and of those who protested the war after it began. I did nothing to stop the war in Iraq--just sat in a rocking chair cradling a new baby, feeling horrified while watching the news on television.

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Iowa Congressional voting on the environment: Not a pretty picture

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 10:55:00 AM CST

The future of Iowa's Congressional representation is not encouraging, judging from the latest League of Conservation Voters' scorecard.
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IA-Sen: Loebsack endorses Braley (updated with Boswell)

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 12:41:34 PM CST

The Iowa Democratic establishment continues to consolidate around Representative Bruce Braley for the open U.S. Senate seat. Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02) posted on his Facebook page this morning,

Bruce, I'm in.

I'm proud to endorse Bruce Braley. We need someone in the U.S. Senate who'll continue Tom Harkin's legacy of fighting to strengthen the middle class and speaking out for those who don't have a voice. I'm pleased to stand with him.

Looking forward to seeing you tonight at the Red, White, and Blue dinner!

We need someone who will continue Harkin's legacy of speaking some unpopular truths, such as pointing out that a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget "would require massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare and many other crucial programs" the middle class rely on. Sadly, we won't hear that message from either Braley or Loebsack in the years to come.

UPDATE: Added the Braley for Iowa press release below.

SECOND UPDATE: Former Representative Leonard Boswell chimed in with his endorsement on January 18. I've posted it below. He praised Braley as "a tireless advocate for Iowa's veterans." That was a strong theme in Braley's latest re-election campaign.

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IA-03: Democrats recruiting whom? (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 07:20:00 AM CST

The well-informed Shira Toeplitz reported this week at Roll Call that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee may have a challenger to ten-term Republican Representative Tom Latham in Iowa's third Congressional district.

I figured that before too long, Democrats would float some possible candidates for IA-03 in 2014. I didn't figure that the leading recruit would be someone I'd never heard of.

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Boswell dropping defamation case against Fallon

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 15:26:42 PM CST

Representative Leonard Boswell is dropping his defamation lawsuit against his 2008 Democratic primary challenger Ed Fallon, both sides confirmed today.  
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Long weekend open thread, with inauguration and MLK links

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 10:15:00 AM CST

What's on your mind this long weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread. I posted some links below to get a conversation going.

UPDATE: Scroll down for excerpts from the inaugural speech and some reaction from Iowa political figures.

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Year-end Congressional scramble discussion thread (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:20:00 AM CST

Members of Congress are in Washington today trying to make last-minute deals to avoid supposedly dire consequences on January 1. So far it appears likely that some kind of one-year extension of current farm policies will pass in order to avoid a huge price spike for milk and problems for agricultural producers. UPDATE: A nine-month farm bill extension was added to the fiscal cliff bill.

Lots of plans are floating around to deal with the so-called "fiscal cliff": Bush income tax cuts (last extended for two years in December 2010) are set to expire, along with lower payroll tax and estate tax rates. Meanwhile, various budget cuts are due to go into effect in January, including a "sequester" of federal spending on defense and other programs but also lower Medicare payments to doctors. At this point, I would be surprised if we don't go over the cliff, and I agree with Senator Tom Harkin that no deal is better than a bad deal.

I will update this post throughout the day and evening with news on Congressional voting. After the jump I've enclosed some links on the latest proposals floating around the Capitol. Tremendous hypocrisy is on display. If deficit hawks believed their own propaganda, they would embrace higher taxes and lower spending to solve this supposedly dire threat to the U.S. economy. UPDATE: More news is below.

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Grassley yes, Harkin no on five more years of warrantless wiretapping

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 12:50:00 PM CST

The U.S. Senate voted today to extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for five more years, allowing "electronic eavesdropping" without a warrant to continue in the U.S. and abroad. President Barack Obama (who at one time opposed the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping policy) will sign the bill sometime before the end of December 31. Follow me after the jump for details on the Senate voting, including how Democrat Tom Harkin and Republican Chuck Grassley voted on various amendments.

When the U.S. House approved this bill in September, four of the five Iowans voted yes: Democrats Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Leonard Boswell (IA-03) and Republicans Tom Latham (IA-04) and Steve King (IA-05). Democrat Bruce Braley (IA-01) was among 118 House members to oppose the bill.

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Iowa Congressional voting roundup: Defense bill and budget cuts

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 20:23:19 PM CST

Iowa's five representatives all voted no intended to vote no as the U.S. House approved the conference committee report on the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act today. UPDATE: Steve King meant to vote no but mistakenly voted yes. Details below.

The Iowans split on party lines over a bill designed to replace the "sequester" scheduled for early next year with deep spending cuts in non-defense domestic programs.

Meanwhile, Republican leaders retreated from a planned vote on House Speaker John Boehner's "Plan B" to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff" at the end of the calendar year.

Follow me after the jump for details on all of the above.

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Obama willing to trade big Social Security cuts for token tax hikes

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 08:20:00 AM CST

After reportedly ruling out an increase in the Medicare eligibility age, President Barack Obama has offered House Speaker John Boehner a new deal to avoid a combination of spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to go into effect at year-end.

Obama's latest offer involves painful Social Security cuts for the poor and middle class but tax increases only for people who won't notice the difference, because they make more than $400,000 per year. This kind of bargain is exactly what Senator Tom Harkin has been warning against when he's said "no deal is better than a bad deal."  

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Leonard Boswell farewell thread (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 16:17:46 PM CST

The U.S. House of Representatives took 40 minutes on the floor this morning to recognize Leonard Boswell's public service during his military career, time in the Iowa Senate, and 16 years in Congress. Radio Iowa posted a link to the full audio from today's proceedings. Republican Tom Latham, who defeated Boswell in IA-03 last month, opened the tribute with warm remarks about his colleague. He also read out comments sent by many Iowans, including Governor Terry Branstad and Ken Sagar of the Iowa Federation of Labor. Iowans can e-mail their own remarks to Boswell.Tribute@mail.house.gov today. Those e-mails will supposedly be part of the official Congressional record.

After the jump I've enclosed some excerpts from today's speeches and public statements released about Boswell's retirement. Any memories about Leonard Boswell are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Added a touching story about Boswell below.

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Iowa delegation supports normal trade relations with Russia

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 16:10:00 PM CST

More than 20 years after the USSR collapsed, Congress has finally repealed the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment limiting trade with the Soviet Union and its successor states. The Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act of 2012 grants Russian permanent normal trade relations status. It passed the U.S. House by 365 votes to 43 last month and passed the Senate by 92 votes to 4 yesterday.

All seven Iowans in Congress voted for this bill, which should increase food and agriculture-related exports to Russia. The Obama administration and several business advocacy groups also supported the measure.

After the jump I've enclosed statements on this bill from Representative Steve King and Senator Chuck Grassley.

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Congress approves bill affecting Marshalltown Lennox plant (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 11:10:00 AM CST

This week the U.S. House and Senate both approved a bill to relax some federal energy regulations, including those on refrigerated display cases manufactured in Marshalltown.

UPDATE: President Barack Obama signed the bill on December 18.

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Comparing voter registration numbers and election results by county

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 07:48:29 AM CST

The latest voter registration numbers in all 99 Iowa counties are out, and I wanted to do one final update on the registration totals in each county, grouped by Congressional district. Statewide, Republicans had led Democrats in voter registrations since April, but that lead was almost gone by the beginning of November. Late GOTV and election-day registrants helped put Democrats a little ahead again. As of December 3, Iowa had 640,776 active registered Democrats, 636,315 Republicans, and 722,348 no-party voters.

In the tables below, I also added vote totals for President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and the major-party Congressional candidates in each county, to show which candidates outpolled or underperformed their party's presidential nominee. I'm not convinced that Christie Vilsack could have beaten Tom Latham in IA-03, but Leonard Boswell finished noticeably behind the president in this district, especially in Polk County.  

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Bleeding Heartland election prediction contest results

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 15:45:00 PM CST

A few days ago, the final recounts ended in Iowa legislative races, and the last Congressional campaign was resolved. It's time to reveal the winner of Bleeding Heartland's general election prediction contest.
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