A life that has led to advocacy

A personal commentary by Matt Chapman to coincide with the “Day on the Hill” for our state’s National Alliance on Mental Illness chapter. NAMI Iowa’s “mission is to raise public awareness and concern about mental illness, to foster research, to improve treatment and to upgrade the system of care for the people of Iowa.” -promoted by desmoinesdem

In the last few years I have found myself politically active and seem to be trying to make up for years of not having the right to vote and taking it for granted when I did participate. I would like to share where my focus is and relate how I came to feel so intensely about these issues. You never know when you may find your voice, and if it took me until my 50s, so be it.

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"We must match our proclamations with courage": Remarks for Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday

Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker spoke about institutional racism, injustice, and discrimination at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids on Monday, January 15. You can watch his keynote address for the MLK Day Celebration here. -promoted by desmoinesdem

In 1963 President Kennedy was asked by a journalist if he felt that his Administration was pushing integration too fast or not fast enough, citing a recent Gallup poll that showed fifty percent of the country felt he was moving too quickly on issues of race. President Kennedy responded, “This is not a matter on which you can take the temperature every few weeks, depending on what the newspaper headlines might be. You judged 1863 after a good many years – its full effect. The same poll showed forty percent or so thought it was more or less right. I thought that was rather impressive, because it is a change and change always disturbs, and therefore I was surprised there wasn’t greater opposition.”

Great is the person who can understand how the present fits into the larger picture of history. The battles we fight today may be obscured and distorted by the detractors, but we fight for the future, knowing full well that one day, history will affirm the moral certainty of our cause.

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Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2017 guest authors

Bleeding Heartland published 140 guest posts by 81 authors in 2016, a record since the blog’s creation in 2007.

I’m happy to report that the bar has been raised: 83 authors contributed 164 guest posts to this website during 2017. Their work covered an incredible range of local, statewide, and national topics.

Some contributors drew on their professional expertise and research, writing in a detached and analytical style. Others produced passionate and intensely personal commentaries, sometimes drawing on painful memories or family history.

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"Make America America again": photos, highlights from Iowa Democrats' fall gala

Everyone could have guessed Alec Baldwin would get Iowa Democrats laughing with jokes at President Donald Trump’s expense.

But who would have predicted the serious part of the actor’s speech would evoke an even stronger response from the crowd?

Follow me after the jump for audio and highlights from Baldwin’s remarks and those of the seven Democratic candidates for governor, along with Stefanie Running‘s photographs from a memorable evening in Des Moines.

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Hunger in the heartland: Iowans struggle with food insecurity

Jessica Chrystal shines a light on a widespread problem in a state that is supposed to be the bread basket of the world. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I spent part of last week attending events at the World Food Prize in Des Moines. When we think of hunger, we think of homeless people on benches in California. The Salvation Army bell ringer standing outside of Target during Christmas, or the glowing images from our tvs of starving children to donate to various charities overseas.

Rarely do we think of our neighbor next door.

Hunger is everywhere. She’s part of the fabric of every map dot town and big city across Iowa.

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Defunding Planned Parenthood will deal another blow to human services budget

The multimillion-dollar cost of excluding Planned Parenthood as a provider in Iowa’s new family planning program will come directly out of the health and human services budget, Iowa Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Charles Schneider has confirmed to Bleeding Heartland. Republican lawmakers and Governor Terry Branstad have committed to creating a fully state-run program because federal rules do not allow states to disqualify Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid Family Planning Waiver. Under that waiver, federal funds have covered 90 percent of the Iowa Family Planning Network’s costs for many years.

In contrast, the state will be on the hook for every dollar spent on the new family planning services program. According to a fiscal note prepared by non-partisan legislative staff, that program is estimated to “increase General Fund expenditures by $2.1 million in FY 2018 and $3.1 million when implemented for a full year in FY 2019.”

The governor proposed using part of Iowa’s federal Social Services Block Grant funding to cover that cost, which is consistent with spending bills House Republicans approved during the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions.

Instead, “a general fund appropriation in the health and human services budget” will pay for the new family planning program, Schneider said during an interview following the April 8 legislative forum in Waukee. After reviewing the proposal from the governor’s office, he explained, he chose to file “our own [bill] that didn’t take the money from the Social Services Block Grant.”

It’s understandable that Republican appropriators rejected Branstad’s idea. As Bleeding Heartland discussed here, the Social Services Block Grant is not a reliable funding stream. The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee leader has called for eliminating the grant, and House Republicans voted to do so last year.

But Republican plans to give up millions of federal family planning dollars look even more foolish now than they did a few months ago, when one considers Iowa’s worsening state revenue picture and the huge spending cuts already inflicted on human services.

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