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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.
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Pat Murphy

What could go wrong? Less training for manure spreaders edition

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:50:00 AM CDT

More than 800 manure spills have occurred on Iowa farms during the past two decades. At least 262 manure spills reached Iowa waterways between 2001 and 2011 alone, affecting the vast majority of counties.

More than half of rivers and streams in the region including Iowa are in "poor condition for aquatic life." Manure spills are a major contributing factor to this problem, and they are happening more often. The number of recorded manure spills in Iowa grew from 46 in 2012 to 76 in 2013.

How should state government respond to this set of facts? Various policies might address the explosion in waterways officially recognized as "impaired."  

But this is Iowa, where it's a minor miracle to get state lawmakers to take any steps against water pollution, and agricultural interests have repeatedly moved to undermine regulations related to the handling of manure on large-scale farms.

Last week, two-thirds of Iowa House members saw fit to reduce continuing education requirements for people certified to spread liquid manure on farm fields.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1031 words in story)

What could go wrong? Iowa House legalizes silencers (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 09:54:36 AM CST

Most gun-related bills failed to make it through in the Iowa legislature's first "funnel" last week. The list of proposals that are dead for this year included efforts to restrict access to firearms (such as Senate File 2179 to close the gun show loophole) and several bills aimed at making guns more available: House File 384 to authorize possession of machine guns and sawed-off shotguns; House File 169/Senate File 251 to allow Iowans with permits to carry concealed weapons on school grounds; House File 172 to allow school employees to carry guns in school; and House File 2012 to allow children as young as 12 to possess handguns.

The trouble is, many incumbents don't want to face the gun lobby's wrath in an election year. Many lawmakers want to have something to brag about when pro-gun activists compile scorecards and endorsement lists. Such concerns prompted Iowa House and Senate leaders to revive and eventually pass a 2010 bill to make it easier for Iowans to carry concealed weapons.

I believe the same dynamic prompted Iowa House members to vote overwhelmingly yesterday to legalize firearm suppressors, better known as "silencers" popular for many decades among snipers and assassins.

There's More... :: (4 Comments, 1778 words in story)

IA-01: Is the Democratic primary Pat Murphy's to lose?

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 09:26:05 AM CST

By some measures, the race for the Democratic nomination in Iowa's first Congressional district looks wide open. All five candidates have raised enough money to run credible campaigns. None are rookie candidates: four have been elected multiple times to either local government or the state legislature, and the fifth has prior experience running for Congress.  

For various reasons, I've long felt that former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy was best positioned to win the Democratic nomination, whether it's decided in the June 3 primary or at an IA-01 district convention (if no candidate wins at least 35 percent of the primary votes).

Last week Murphy's campaign released partial results from an internal poll showing a "commanding lead" against his four Democratic rivals. I've enclosed the polling memo below, along with a few thoughts on its findings and the dynamic in this race going forward.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 1109 words in story)

IA-01 4Q fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 06:50:00 AM CST

Last week I never got around to posting highlights from the year-end Federal Election Commission reports for candidates in Iowa's open first Congressional district. Better late than never.

On the Democratic side, the money race remains highly competitive; all five candidates entered the election year with more than $100,000 to spend before the primary. The Republican race in IA-01 provided another reminder that establishment support does not necessarily translate into strong fundraising.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1377 words in story)

Judge orders Branstad administration to reopen Iowa Juvenile Home

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 13:29:14 PM CST

Polk County District Court Judge Scott Rosenberg ruled yesterday in favor of plaintiffs who are challenging the closure of the Iowa Juvenile Home by the Iowa Department of Human Services. Finding that the four state legislators and the president of a public employees union were "likely to succeed on the merits" when the court considers their lawsuit, Judge Rosenberg granted the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction. He ordered Governor Terry Branstad's administration to "reopen the Toledo home and abide by the duly passed laws of the state of Iowa which established the Toledo Home [...]."

After the jump I've posted an excerpt from the ruling, which you can read in full on the Des Moines Register's website. I've also posted reaction from several of the plaintiffs and from Branstad.

This isn't the first time a state court has found that the governor overreached in disregarding legislative intent on the allocation of state funds. Maybe Branstad should get better legal advice before deciding to ignore language from budget bills he signed into law.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1760 words in story)

Democratic legislators, AFSCME leader sue Branstad over closing juvenile home

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jan 03, 2014 at 11:15:00 AM CST

Four Democratic state legislators and the leader of Iowa's largest public employee union filed a lawsuit yesterday seeking to block Governor Terry Branstad's administration from closing the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo (Tama County) this month. Joining AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan are gubernatorial candidate Senator Jack Hatch, Senator Steve Sodders (whose district includes Toledo), Iowa House Minority Leader Mark Smith, and former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy. The lawsuit alleges that it is unconstitutional for Branstad to close the home after signing into law budget appropriations for operating the home in fiscal years 2014 and 2015. An official statement from the plaintiffs is after the jump, along with a brief summary provided by Sodders.

When Iowa Department of Human Services Director Chuck Palmer announced in December that the Iowa Juvenile Home would be closed after all the resident girls were relocated, he said the "difficult decision" was in the best interests of the girls who had lived there. Yesterday Governor Branstad also cited the interests of "those kids who've been mistreated and abused and not gotten their education."

Over the past year, the Des Moines Register's Clark Kauffman has documented outrageous practices at the Iowa Juvenile Home, including long placements in isolated cells. In October, a task force appointed by Branstad recommended reforms for the facility. The lawsuit alleges that at the governor's direction, DHS Director Palmer disregarded the task force's recommendations and will unlawfully use funds appropriated for the Juvenile Home for other purposes.

In 2012, the Iowa Supreme Court found that Branstad had improperly used his line-item veto power to change how state funds were allocated. This case is somewhat different but poses similar constitutional questions.

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 671 words in story)

Fighting to End Discrimination: Demand Action on ENDA

by: PatMurphyforIowa

Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 09:39:14 AM CST

(Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest diaries by Democratic candidates. Here's a list of Iowa House members who voted for this bill in 2007. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

It may surprise many that in 2013, in some places in America, you can still be fired from your job simply because of who you are or who you love. But it's true. And because of dysfunction and backwards thinking in Washington, that injustice may continue.

On Monday, the U.S. Senate overcame a procedural hurdle and set up a crucial vote to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) later this week - 17 years after it was first introduced. In an era when the two parties agree on nothing, to have both Democrats and Republicans voting yes on ENDA in the Senate should send a message that we all agree it's time for this injustice to end. But incredibly, Speaker Boehner and the House Republicans vowed to continue the fight against what's right.

Five years ago, we passed a very similar law in Iowa, and it is time the rest of the country caught up. Believe me, I know the process can be messy, but I offer this look back on how we passed the civil rights expansion in 2007 as proof that our shared faith in the right to equality is a powerful thing, and the fight is worth it.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 997 words in story)

Weekend open thread: Jefferson-Jackson Dinner edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 01:13:58 AM CDT

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

The Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner was an entertaining affair. I've posted some highlights after the jump. The "news" of the evening was Senator Chuck Schumer of New York endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, but for my money that wasn't the most interesting part of his speech.

There's More... :: (8 Comments, 1281 words in story)

IA-01: First labor endorsement for Anesa Kajtazovic, five more for Pat Murphy

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 25, 2013 at 19:34:00 PM CDT

State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic received her first labor endorsement this week in the Democratic primary to represent Iowa's first Congressional district. The United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 431 and 1149 decided to support Kajtazovic because "she understands better than anyone the concerns of Iowa's working families," and "She shares the experience of arriving to Iowa as an immigrant with many of our members." According to the press release I've posted after the jump, the UFCW Locals 431 and 1149 represent more than 2,500 workers living in IA-01.

Former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy had seven organized labor endorsements going into this week. Today his campaign announced that Murphy has the backing of five more labor unions: the Iowa State Association of Letter Carriers, the Iowa Statewide American Postal Workers Union, Iowa Statewide United Transportation Union (SMART Union), Statewide Ironworkers Labor Union Local 89, and the Teamsters Local 90. I enclose the full press release below. It does not mention the number of members who live in IA-01.

The Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Building Trades Council endorsed Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon last month. The other two Democrats running in IA-01 are Dave O'Brien, who supports organized labor's agenda, and Swati Dandekar, who was not known as a pro-labor member of the Iowa House and Senate.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 554 words in story)

Iowa Congressional 3Q fundraising roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 08:15:00 AM CDT

All Congressional candidates had to file third-quarter fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission by October 15. After the jump I've posted details on the fundraising by Iowa's candidates for U.S. House.

The Senate reports are not online yet at the Federal Election Commission's website, so those numbers will come later.

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Iowa Congressional voting and comments on the government shutdown

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 01, 2013 at 10:38:19 AM CDT

The 2014 fiscal year began at midnight. Congress is ringing in the occasion with the first partial federal government shutdown since the mid-1990s. The U.S. House and Senate have been unable to agree on a continuing spending resolution, because most House Republicans insist on defunding or delaying the 2010 health care reform law as a condition of funding most government operations.

Details on Iowa Congressional votes on budget resolutions are after the jump, along with comments from all the Iowans in Congress and many of the candidates for U.S. House or Senate.

Authorization for most federal agricultural programs also expired at midnight, and it's not clear when Congress will be able to agree on a short-term extension or a new five-year farm bill. Toward the end of this post I've enclosed some comments on the failure to pass a farm bill.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 8902 words in story)

IA-01: First labor endorsement for Monica Vernon

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 10:50:00 AM CDT

This week the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Building Trades Council endorsed Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon for Congress. After the jump I've enclosed the full statement from the group, which cited Vernon's hard work to ensure "that the Building Trades played a key role in the rebuilding of Cedar Rapids" after the 2008 flooding. According to the press release, "The Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Building Trades Council represents 18 building trade unions and 15,000 members in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City corridor." It's not clear how many of those members live in Linn County or other parts of IA-01. Johnson County (containing Iowa City) is in Iowa's second Congressional district.

Vernon is one of five Democrats seeking the nomination in the open first Congressional district. To my knowledge, this is the first organized labor endorsement for anyone other than State Representative Pat Murphy. Seven labor groups have backed the former Iowa House speaker so far. On September 16 Muphy's campaign announced endorsements from the Retail Wholesale & Department Store Union (RWDSU) Local 110 in Cedar Rapids, the Great Plains Laborers' District Council, and Teamsters Local 120. In the summer, Murphy received the backing of AFSCME Council 61, the Communications Workers of America Iowa State Council, Operating Engineers Local 234, and the Dubuque Letter Carriers Local 257.  

With the end of the third quarter approaching on September 30, many Congressional candidates have been sending out fundraising appeals. I've enclosed below the latest e-mail blast from Vernon's campaign, which features former State Senator and U.S. Senate candidate Jean Lloyd-Jones. It hammers on what will likely be a central theme for Vernon as the Democratic primary heats up: her record of getting things done.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 536 words in story)

IA-01: Pat Murphy rolls out another labor endorsement

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 13:10:00 PM CDT

State Representative Pat Murphy announced yesterday that he has received the Communication Workers of America Iowa State Council's endorsement as a Congressional candidate in Iowa's first district. According to a press release I've posted after the jump, the CWA Iowa State Council approved the endorsement at a regional conference on August 19. Murphy's campaign held off on spreading the news until August 20, the same day State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic made her Congressional campaign official. Incidentally, the president of CWA Local 7110 is Francis Giunta, longtime chair of Murphy's Iowa House campaigns and his preferred candidate the last time Dubuque had an open Iowa House district. Chuck Isenhart defeated Giunta in the 2008 Democratic primary for that seat.

The CWA Iowa State Council is the fourth labor union to endorse the former Iowa House speaker in IA-01. With an estimated 4,500 members statewide, including retirees, it's not nearly as large as AFSCME Iowa Council 61, which backed Murphy earlier this summer.

Any comments about the IA-01 campaign are welcome in this thread. At this point I consider Murphy the front-runner in the five-way Democratic primary. He has raised enough money to run a credible district-wide campaign, even if he doesn't end up with the largest war chest. Three women candidates may split the votes of Democrats who want to make history with this election. Three candidates from the Cedar Rapids area will compete for support in the district's most populous county. Labor activists will be helpful as Murphy tries to get out the vote before next June's Democratic primary. If no candidate wins the primary outright with at least 35 percent of the vote, a district convention will select the nominee. Murphy has become acquainted with a huge number of activists in northeast Iowa during his long career in the state legislature. Furthermore, labor unions can provide the organization to get sympathetic county delegates elected at the precinct caucuses in January, and district delegates elected at the county conventions next spring.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 165 words in story)

IA-01: Anesa Kajtazovic campaign rollout

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 11:10:00 AM CDT

State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic kicks off her Congressional campaign today with events in Marshalltown, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, and Dubuque. I enclose her campaign's press release after the jump. Like rival first district candidate Swati Dandekar, Kajtazovic emphasizes her life story as an example of the American dream. Like outgoing U.S. Representative Bruce Braley, Kajtazovic lives in Waterloo, and she describes herself in today's announcement as a "Bruce Braley Democrat" who "will grow on his progressive legacy" in Congress.

I will update this post later for clips from Kajtazovic's events today. Earlier this month she launched her campaign website and completed a "listening tour" of all 20 counties in the first Congressional district.

I highly recommend watching KWWL journalist Ron Steele's interview with Kajtazovic, which aired over the weekend: part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Any comments about the IA-01 race are welcome in this thread. The district leans Democratic with a partisan voting index of D+5. According to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's office, IA-01 contains 162,447 active registered Democrats, 136,290 Republicans, and 192,715 no-party voters. Kajtazovic will compete in the Democratic primary against former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy of Dubuque and three candidates from Linn County: former State Senator Dandekar, Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, and Cedar Rapids-based attorney Dave O'Brien.  

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 747 words in story)

Quick hits on the five Democratic candidates in IA-01

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 14, 2013 at 07:35:00 AM CDT

The Democratic primary in the open first Congressional district will be one of Iowa's most interesting elections next year. In addition to separate posts on major developments in the race, I plan to update Bleeding Heartland readers periodically on how all five Democrats are campaigning. The winner of the primary will go into the general election as the slight favorite given the partisan lean of this D+5 district and the voter registration advantage for Democrats there.

Follow me after the jump for recent news about each of the contenders.

There's More... :: (7 Comments, 800 words in story)

IA-01: Anesa Kajtazovic launches campaign website, ActBlue page

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 07:38:48 AM CDT

I haven't seen any official announcement or press release, but State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic has launched an Anesa for Iowa campaign website, as well as a fundraising page for a Congressional campaign on ActBlue. As of Friday evening, her Facebook page features a new photo of an Irish-themed "Anesa Kajtazovic for Congress" logo in honor of the Irish fest scheduled for this weekend in Waterloo.

Kajtazovic is the fifth Democrat seeking the nomination in Iowa's first district, which Bruce Braley is vacating to run for the U.S. Senate. State Representative Pat Murphy was the first to declare, followed by Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, Cedar Rapids attorney Dave O'Brien, and former State Senator Swati Dandekar. 

Discuss :: (9 Comments)

IA-01: Swati Dandekar launches campaign

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 14:20:00 PM CDT

Former State Senator Swati Dandekar launched her Congressional campaign yesterday in Marion, saying she is a "testament that the American dream is alive." I've posted her official bio and news release after the jump; her campaign is online at Swati Dandekar for Congress. James Q. Lynch reported on yesterday's event, where Dandekar emphasized her commitment to education and helping to create "jobs that pay living wages."

Dandekar won multiple elections in swing Iowa legislative districts. While her moderate image may have crossover appeal, getting through the Democratic primary will be a major challenge. Dandekar said yesterday that she was encouraged by conversations with voters across IA-01. But key factions in the Democratic base resent aspects of her legislative record and the fact that she put the Iowa Senate majority at risk by accepting a position on the Iowa Utilities Board in 2011. Furthermore, the Democratic primary competition in IA-01 includes Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, a onetime Republican who will draw support from Linn County moderates.

Any comments about the IA-01 campaign are welcome in this thread.

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 676 words in story)

AFSCME backing Abby Finkenauer in Iowa House district 99

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 11:19:00 AM CDT

Abby Finkenauer announced on Facebook Monday that she was "thrilled" to be endorsed by the political arm of Iowa's largest labor union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Finkenauer is one of three Democrats running in Dubuque-based Iowa House district 99, which Pat Murphy is vacating to run for Congress. She is a former page to Murphy when he was Iowa House speaker and has most recently clerked for State Representative Todd Taylor. Former State Representative Tom Jochum is backing Finkenauer's candidacy too.

The AFSCME Iowa Council 61 PEOPLE Committee endorsed Murphy and several other Congressional candidates Monday, but I couldn't find anything on their website about Finkenauer's race. AFSCME staff confirmed by telephone this morning that the PEOPLE committee is backing Finkenauer but would not provide any statement on the endorsement or any comment on whether the state's largest labor union plans to get involved in any other Democratic primaries in legislative districts. Finkenauer commented in her Facebook post, "I know that they do not normally endorse in State House primaries, so I am beyond honored to have their support and encouragement as I continue to work to be the best Democratic candidate for Iowa House District 99 [...]."

I understand taking sides in a primary when one candidate is clearly best poised to win the general election or advocate for a group's issues. But House district 99 is a safe seat for any Democrat, and rival candidates Steve Drahozal and Greg Simpson sound equally committed to progressive values. If AFSCME isn't even willing to issue a statement explaining its preference for Finkenauer, maybe the union would do better to stay out of primaries.

UPDATE: AFSCME provided a statement via e-mail, which I have added after the jump.

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 195 words in story)

Analysis of the Obama-Romney vote in the Iowa House districts

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 08:26:39 AM CDT

The Daily Kos Elections team has been compiling 2012 presidential election results by state legislative district as well as by Congressional district, state by state. Last week the Iowa numbers were added to the database. I took a first stab at previewing the battle for control of the Iowa Senate next year, using data including the raw vote totals and percentages for President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in each district.

The Daily Kos database includes Obama and Romney vote totals and percentages for each Iowa House district here. After the jump I've incorporated that information and other factors to predict which Iowa House districts will be competitive in 2014. Writing this post has been challenging, because every election cycle brings surprises, and many more seats in the lower chamber will be in play. Unlike the Iowa Senate, where only half of the 50 members are on the ballot in each general election, all 100 Iowa House members are on ballot in every even-numbered year. Republicans currently hold a 53-47 majority in the lower chamber.

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 3366 words in story)

AFSCME endorses Pat Murphy in IA-01, Staci Appel in IA-03

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 14:36:00 PM CDT

The elections arm of Iowa's largest labor union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, announced five endorsements for the 2014 elections today. I've posted the whole statement from the AFSCME Iowa Council 61 PEOPLE Committee after the jump. The biggest news is AFSCME coming out early for former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy in IA-01. Two other Democrats are already campaigning for that open seat, probably to be joined soon by State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic and former State Senator Swati Dandekar.

In IA-03, AFSCME will back former State Senator Staci Appel, who voted for a number of pro-labor bills during her four years in the legislature. Gabriel De La Cerda is also running in the Democratic primary and was an Iowa political coordinator for the United Steel Workers Union during the 2012 general election campaign. No one will be surprised to see AFSCME supporting four-term incumbent Dave Loebsack in IA-02 or Jim Mowrer in IA-04, where no other Democrat is likely to take on Steve King.

AFSCME hasn't endorsed a Democratic challenger to Governor Terry Branstad yet. The only statewide candidate named in today's release is Brad Anderson for Iowa secretary of state. He has the backing of most of Iowa's Democratic establishment and may not face any competition in the primary, although former Secretary of State Michael Mauro hasn't ruled out a comeback attempt.

There's More... :: (13 Comments, 517 words in story)
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