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Terry Branstad

Iowa Board of Medicine and Governor Branstad finally ready to face reality on telemed abortions

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Sep 02, 2015 at 16:52:06 PM CDT

Two months after the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled unconstitutional a proposed state ban on using telemedicine for abortions, the Iowa Board of Medicine and Governor Terry Branstad are at last ready to accept the court ruling as the final word on the subject.  
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Insurance company insiders knew about Iowa's Medicaid privatization plans long before public

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Sep 01, 2015 at 15:51:15 PM CDT

Governor Terry Branstad didn't run for re-election last year on a plan to let private insurance companies manage health care for some 560,000 Iowans on Medicaid. He didn't work with key state legislators to draw up his administration's "Medicaid Modernization" plans. The governor's draft budget, submitted in January, projected some $51 million in savings on Medicaid for the 2016 fiscal year. But key lawmakers like the chair of the Iowa Senate Health and Human Resources Appropriations subcommittee didn't learn that four private companies would be selected to handle almost all Medicaid services until the Iowa Department of Human Services made its request for proposals public in February.

Recent accusations of bias and conflicts of interest, as well as allegedly inaccurate scoring of insurers' proposals, have raised many questions about how the Iowa DHS selected the four companies now negotiating contracts to manage Medicaid for one-sixth of Iowans. Reports of campaign contributions by lobbyists and political action committees representing firms that sought Iowa's Medicaid business prompted one watchdog to decry "pay to play" politics.

Those news stories point to a conclusion that isn't getting enough attention: various insurance companies and their paid representatives knew what was coming down the pike long before the Branstad administration disclosed its plans to privatize Medicaid.

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Key Iowa Republican budget negotiators eager to leave Capitol

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 26, 2015 at 17:00:00 PM CDT

In the span of a few weeks, four Republicans who were heavily involved in shaping this year's state budget have made sure they won't be at the negotiating table during the Iowa legislature's 2016 session. First, Matt Hinch quit as Governor Terry Branstad's chief of staff. The weekly Business Record reported yesterday that Hinch "joined the Des Moines office of government affairs and lobbying group Cornerstone Government Affairs as a vice president."

Days after the Branstad administration announced Hinch's departure, Kraig Paulsen resigned as Iowa House speaker. He plans to be a back-bencher next year and will not seek re-election to the Iowa House in 2016. It's not yet clear whether he will remain an attorney for the Cedar Rapids-based trucking firm CRST International, or whether he will seek a different private-sector job.

Last Friday, Branstad's office announced that Jake Ketzner was leaving as the governor's legislative liaison. I've enclosed the full statement on the staff changes after the jump. Yesterday, the marketing and lobbying firm LS2group revealed that Ketzner will be their newest vice president, specializing in "campaign management, government affairs, and public affairs."

Finally, House Appropriations Committee Chair Chuck Soderberg told journalists yesterday that he will resign to take a leadership role in the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, a powerful interest group.

I can't blame these Republicans for not wanting to spin their wheels at the Capitol during next year's legislative session. Election years are not conducive to bipartisan deal-making in the best of times. Last month, possibly influenced by Hinch and Ketzner, Branstad poisoned the well with vetoes that erased most of the House GOP's budget concessions to Senate Democrats. Although Paulsen insisted he had negotiated in good faith, he and his top lieutenant Linda Upmeyer (the incoming House speaker) didn't lift a finger to override the governor's vetoes.

Newly-elected House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow told a conservative audience in Urbandale today, "I'm not as skeptical about next year as maybe some are. I think there's a lot of good things that we can get done [in the legislature]," Rod Boshart reported.

That makes one of us. Seeing Hinch, Paulsen, Ketzner, and Soderberg vote with their feet reinforces my belief that next year's legislative session will mostly be a waste of many people's time and energy.

P.S.- Some grade A political framing was on display in the governor's press release enclosed below: "During the 2015 session, Ketzner worked across party lines to secure bipartisan support for historic infrastructure investment that an economic development study called a prerequisite for economic development in Iowa." In other words, he helped persuade lawmakers to increase the gasoline tax. Ketzner's official bio at LS2goup likewise speaks of his work "across party lines to secure bipartisan support for significant transportation and broadband infrastructure investments."

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Iowa's Medicaid privatization raising more red flags

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 26, 2015 at 07:15:00 AM CDT

The Branstad administration has justified its "Medicaid Modernization Initiative" with optimistic projections about more "efficient, coordinated and high quality healthcare" and greater "accountability in health care coordination," delivered at a savings to taxpayers.

Jason Clayworth shared a less encouraging perspective in the August 21 Des Moines Register: all four private insurance companies now negotiating contracts to manage Medicaid in Iowa have "faced serious charges of fraud or mismanagement" related to serving Medicaid recipients in other states. Some of those violations led to "hundreds of millions of dollars in fines" against the insurers.  

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Solution to Planned Parenthood Video Thing

by: Mike Draper

Mon Aug 24, 2015 at 16:18:19 PM CDT

(A modest proposal to apply the probably unconstitutional logic behind Iowa's "ag gag" law to undercover videos targeting a leading provider of affordable health care to women. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Can we please treat women's health like industrial agriculture?

The latest attack on Planned Parenthood came in the form of an edited video, secretly taped, claiming to "expose" the practice of selling "baby parts." But if Planned Parenthood had been a factory farm, that video wouldn't have happened, because that video would have been illegal to make!

Since that video, Iowa governor Terry Branstad, like the internet, has been shocked! Outraged! He joined the "Truth Exposed" rally and called for an investigation into Planned Parenthood. Though no federal or state money goes to abortions, Branstad wanted to look into all money going to Planned Parenthood because he wants "to protect the interest of the taxpayers."

Ironically, Branstad applauds an undercover video from a state that was an early "Ag Gag" law adopter, a law that essentially prevents videotaping industrial agriculture facilities in America. Violators could be charged with a Class D Felony, "Animal Facility Interference."  

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Longer summer break for Iowa kids, but with less lake swimming

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 24, 2015 at 11:51:41 AM CDT

Thousands of Iowa children went back to school today, having enjoyed an extra week or two of vacation thanks to a new state law preventing K-12 school districts from beginning the academic year before August 23. In response to lobbying from the tourism industry, most state lawmakers and Governor Terry Branstad sought to block local school administrators from starting in early or mid-August. However, as economist Dave Swenson explained here, "there is no evidence that early start dates interfere in any meaningful sense with the Iowa State Fair or with any other tourism activity in Iowa."

If only the governor and most of our state legislators were as tuned in to how dirty water hurts Iowa tourism.  

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Fallout from state's selection of companies to manage Medicaid for half a million Iowans

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 21, 2015 at 12:49:37 PM CDT

On Monday, the Iowa Department of Human Services announced the four private insurance companies selected to manage care for almost all of the 560,000 Iowans on Medicaid. Pending successful contract negotiations, Amerigroup Iowa, AmeriHealth Caritas Iowa, UnitedHealthcare Plan of the River Valley, and WellCare of Iowa will start managing care for Iowans on January 1, 2016. It's too early to say how the change will affect medical services. Speaking to the Des Moines Register, Democratic State Senator Amanda Ragan expressed concern "that people will fall through the cracks" and said she hopes Iowans will contact state lawmakers "if problems develop" under the new system.

Some losers have emerged from the process already: namely, two companies now managing care for some Iowans on Medicaid, which were not selected to continue in that role next year. Follow me after the jump for background on the Medicaid privatization plan and the fallout from the Iowa DHS not choosing Magellan Health Inc and Meridian Health Plan as managed care organizations for 2016.  

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Iowa's Current Refugee Crisis

by: Roger Pedactor

Fri Aug 14, 2015 at 17:04:19 PM CDT

(Background and details on how "community navigators" serve refugee communities. Unfortunately, last month Governor Terry Branstad vetoed state funding for this kind of pilot program in Polk County.   - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Refugees from Burma (Myanmar) spend an average of 10-15 years in a refugee camp before coming to America. They get 3 days head's up before coming to the United States. They take out a government loan of several thousand dollars that they must pay back just to get here. They are then assigned a caseworker from a resettlement agency. This agency and the refugee(s) have 90 days to learn a completely new language and culture, understand school systems, public transportation, healthcare - everything from Winter clothing to brushing their teeth. After 90 days, the federal government stops supporting the refugees all together. The resettlement agency, due to overwhelming demand, must be off to assist the next incoming family. So who takes over?

People like me.

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Update on the race to replace Kraig Paulsen as Iowa House speaker

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 12, 2015 at 09:57:12 AM CDT

Iowa House Republicans will meet in Des Moines on August 20 to choose a new speaker, Erin Murphy reported earlier this week. Outgoing Speaker Kraig Paulsen surprised mtost Iowa politics watchers when he announced last week that he will step down from leadership before next year's legislative session and will not seek re-election to the Iowa House in 2016.

House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer and State Representative Josh Byrnes quickly let it be known that they will run for speaker. The rumor mill expects another House Republican to seek the position, but to my knowledge, no one has gone public with that ambition. Several House members have not responded to my request for comment, including Representative Peter Cownie, who was rumored to be interested in the speaker's post two years ago. I've heard rumblings about Representative Guy Vander Linden, but speaking by phone on August 10, he told me, "I don't intend to run for speaker. I don't feel prepared to run for speaker." He said he undecided on whom he will support to replace Paulsen but inclined to back Upmeyer, because "continuity is important."

House Majority Whip Chris Hagenow is supporting Upmeyer for speaker and formally announced on Monday that he will seek the post of majority leader. Current House Speaker Pro-Tem Matt Windschitl is also backing Upmeyer and does not appear interested in moving up to majority leader.

According to the Des Moines Register's Kathie Obradovich, over the weekend WHO talk radio host Simon Conway referred to State Representative Walt Rogers (currently one of four assistant majority leaders) as "quite probably the next majority leader" of the Iowa House. However, Rogers told me he will not run for majority leader, because he's "having fun and working hard" with Rick Santorum's presidential campaign. Rogers was an early Santorum endorser during the last election cycle, and Santorum in turn supported Rogers' short-lived Congressional campaign.

Rogers declined to comment when I asked whether he will support Upmeyer for speaker.

As for whether Vander Linden might run for majority leader, he told me, "I haven't given it any serious consideration," adding, "I would give a politician's 'Never say never.'"

Governor Terry Branstad is wisely staying out of the speaker's race.

Spin your own scenarios in this thread, and please contact me if you know of another House Republican actively seeking the post of speaker or majority leader.  

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Five shocking findings from Public Policy Polling's latest Iowa survey

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 11, 2015 at 19:58:05 PM CDT

Public Policy Polling released its latest Iowa caucus numbers yesterday. As other recent surveys of Iowa Democrats have shown, Hillary Clinton still leads by a considerable margin, but her lead has shrunk since the spring, as Iowans have learned more about other contenders. PPP now has Clinton at 52 percent support among "usual Democratic primary voters," while Bernie Sanders has 25 percent, Martin O'Malley 7 percent, Jim Webb 3 percent, and Lincoln Chafee 1 percent.

On the GOP side, Donald Trump leads among "usual Republican primary voters" with 19 percent, followed by Ben Carson and Scott Walker (12 percent each), Jeb Bush (11 percent), Carly Fiorina (10 percent), Ted Cruz (9 percent), Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio (6 percent each), John Kasich and Rand Paul (3 percent each), Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum (2 percent each), Chris Christie (1 percent), and Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki (less than 1 percent).

Dropping to 3 percent earned Paul the "biggest loser" title from Public Policy Polling's Tom Jensen and was the only topline result that shocked me. Things got way more interesting in the cross-tabs. I enclose below the five findings that struck me most.

As a bonus, I added at the end of this post completely unsurprising numbers from PPP's survey of registered Iowa voters: Governor Terry Branstad is underwater with 42 percent approval and 47 percent disapproval. Last month's high-profile line-item vetoes are even less popular.

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Joni Ernst confirms she won't endorse before the Iowa caucuses

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 10, 2015 at 08:40:04 AM CDT

The first Republican presidential debates did not affect U.S. Senator Joni Ernst's plans to remain neutral before the 2016 Iowa caucuses.  
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Weekend open thread: "Serious mismanagement" edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Aug 09, 2015 at 12:15:00 PM CDT

What's on your mind, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Ryan Foley's August 3 story for the Associated Press was disturbing on several levels. A "Serious Mismanagement Report" described a "decade of dysfunction" at the Effigy Mounds National Monument in northeast Iowa. Between 1999 and 2010, "78 construction projects costing a total of $3.4 million were approved there in violation of federal laws meant to protect archaeological resources and historic sites." Also troubling: National Park Service officials have suppressed the report's publication and recently denied that it existed. They have commissioned another team to write a separate (less critical) review of Effigy Mounds operations. National Park Service deputy regional director Patricia Trap delivered some unintentional comedy when she said, "I'm not denying some serious mismanagement [...] But also there were actions taken along the way that were actually appropriate management." I'm so relieved to know that Effigy Mounds officials handled some matters appropriately in addition to the seventy-eight projects that failed to comply with federal law.

Iowa Public Radio's Morning Edition with Clay Masters interviewed Foley about the mismanagement and next steps at Effigy Mounds. Click through for the audio and transcript.

The Des Moines Register published a front-page piece by Grant Rodgers on August 5 about the "uncertain future" for Iowa's regional drug courts. Those courts steer defendants into treatment rather than prison, turning lives around at lower cost than incarceration. "Yet despite their popularity among prosecutors, judges and community leaders, several Iowa drug courts have experienced sluggish legislative funding - so much so that they now are in jeopardy," Rodgers reports. What a classic case of penny-wise and pound-foolish budgeting by state legislators who brag to their constituents about fiscal responsibility. With an ending balance (surplus) of at least $300 million expected for Iowa's budget in the 2016 fiscal year, it's ridiculous that the drug court in Council Bluffs will shut down on October 1, with courts in Burlington and Ottumwa "at risk of closing" later this year.

The front page of today's Sunday Des Moines Register features a depressing must-read by Tony Leys about former residents of the now-closed Iowa Mental Health Institute at Clarinda, which "cared for some of the frailest and most complicated psychiatric patients in the state." Of the eighteen people who lived in the Clarinda facility earlier this year, eight

were transferred to four traditional nursing homes, all of which are rated "below average" or "much below average" on a federal registry. The four facilities are in the bottom 29 percent of Iowa nursing homes for overall quality, according to the Medicare registry. Two of those eight patients died shortly after their transfers.

I've enclosed excerpts from all of the above stories after the jump, but I recommend clicking through to read the articles in their entirety.

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Bad news for supporters of Iowa's "ag gag" law

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 05, 2015 at 11:48:09 AM CDT

A U.S. District Court judge has ruled unconstitutional an Idaho law that criminalized lying to obtain employment at an agricultural facility or making unauthorized audio and video recordings at such facilities. Will Potter, one of the plaintiffs challenging the "ag gag" law, has been covering the case at the Green is the New Red blog. Judge Lyn Winmill's ruling (pdf) found that the Idaho law's provisions violated both "the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment" of the U.S. Constitution.

The Iowa House and Senate approved and Governor Terry Branstad signed our state's version of the "ag gag" law in 2012. It was the first of its kind in the country.

Although Iowa's law differed from the Idaho statute in some ways, several parts of yesterday's federal court ruling would appear to apply equally to Iowa's law. After the jump I've enclosed the relevant language from both state laws and excerpts from Judge Winmill's ruling.

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Calling Iowa's young leaders on clean energy

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 30, 2015 at 23:15:00 PM CDT

Midwest Energy News, a non-profit news website supported by non-profits focused on energy policy, is launching an award to recognize "emerging leaders throughout the region and their work to accelerate America's transition to a clean energy economy." The site will accept nominations for the "40 Under 40" designation here "until either 250 nominations are received or 10:00 p.m. CT on Monday, August 10." Eligible candidates include "midwest-based leaders and innovators from all sectors -industry, government, regulatory, business, academic, and advocacy."

I learned about the 40 Under 40 competition from State Representative Chuck Isenhart, who will serve on the selection advisory committee for Midwest Energy News. Isenhart is the ranking Democrat on the Iowa House Environmental Protection Committee and has been a strong voice in the Iowa legislature on a range of environmental issues.

Through volunteering for various non-profits, I have become acquainted with several Iowans who deserve serious consideration for the new award, and I plan to encourage their colleagues to nominate them. The candidate who immediately came to my mind, though, is someone I've never met. Paritosh Kasotia is the founder and CEO of Unfolding Energy, a non-profit "founded on a premise that clean energy choices can safeguard the climate as well as create economic growth." She is best known as the highly capable former leader of the Iowa Energy Office; I enclose below more background on that part of her career. Late last year, leaders of the Iowa Economic Development Authority fired Kasotia for reasons never explained to anyone's satisfaction. Some suspected the dismissal was related to a $1 million solar power grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, which Kasotia helped land but Iowa eventually relinquished after Branstad administration officials "amended an original proposal and insisted the grant not be used to evaluate solar energy policies - a change that utility lobbyists sought," Ryan Foley reported for the Associated Press last July.

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Branstad vetoes will stand: not enough support for Iowa legislative special session

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 30, 2015 at 16:58:51 PM CDT

Governor Terry Branstad's vetoes of education and mental health funding will stand, as the two-thirds majority needed to call a special legislative session has failed to materialize in either the Iowa House or Senate.

A special session always looked like a long-shot, given that Iowa House Republican leaders didn't want to spend extra money on education and only reluctantly agreed to extend funding for mental health institutions. In addition, 23 of the 24 Iowa Senate Republicans voted against the supplemental spending bill. They had no stake in the compromise the governor blew apart.

Still, the outcry over school funding (including dozens of normally non-political superintendents speaking out) created an opening for Republican lawmakers. Even if they didn't believe in the substantive value of additional education or mental health funding, they could have taken a big issue off the table for next year's statehouse elections. So far, very few Republicans seem worried about the political fallout from not overriding Branstad's vetoes. Democrats appear ready to remind voters at every opportunity who created the holes local education leaders are scrambling to fill.  

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Matt Hinch stepping down as Branstad's chief of staff

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 29, 2015 at 12:55:00 PM CDT

After nearly two years on the job, Matt Hinch is resigning as Governor Terry Branstad's chief of staff, effective August 7. The full press release from the governor's office is after the jump.

Hinch is leaving for an unspecified "private sector" opportunity. I expect to hear soon that he is joining one of the Republican presidential campaigns. Hinch's previous work included a stint as campaign manager for then-U.S. Representative Tom Latham. He also served as chief of staff for Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and handled government relations for the Greater Des Moines Partnership, an influential business-oriented group.

Hinch kept a low profile as the governor's chief of staff, rarely making the news. Last year, he headed a quick (and I mean very quick) review of secret settlements with former state employees, which sidestepped allegations of political cronyism that affected the careers of some merit-based state workers. Former Iowa Workforce Development Director Teresa Wahlert has asserted that Hinch and other senior Branstad administration officials thwarted her efforts to make her department's chief administrative law judge position a merit-based job, as the U.S. Department of Labor has demanded.

UPDATE: Another plausible theory: Hinch may go to work for the Iowa Partnership for Clean Water, an astroturf group the Iowa Farm Bureau created to lobby against any regulations to improve water quality.

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Five ways cleaning up coal-fired power plants will save Iowans' lives

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 17, 2015 at 10:05:28 AM CDT

The best news in Iowa this week came out of a federal courtroom in Cedar Rapids. As Ryan Foley reported for the Associated Press, "Iowa's second-largest power company agreed Wednesday to drastically cut pollution at several coal-fired power plants under a Clean Air Act settlement that's expected to make the air safer and easier to breathe around the state." You can read the full consent decree here and the complaint filed against the Alliant Energy subsidiary Interstate Power and Light here.

Huge credit for the victory goes to the Sierra Club Iowa chapter. Foley reports that this federal government enforcement action "started in 2011 when the Sierra Club filed a notice accusing the company [Interstate Power and Light] of violating the Clean Air Act." The Sierra Club advocates for a range of policies to reduce air pollution and Iowa's reliance on coal to generate electricity.

I enclose below highlights from Foley's article and five reasons the changes at the affected power plants will save Iowans' lives.

The agreement U.S. officials reached with Interstate Power and Light is also an encouraging sign that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision against the Environmental Protection Agency's rule on mercury emissions is at most a temporary setback for clean air. In some communities, the court's ruling won't even slow down efforts to convert coal-fired plants to other fuel sources.

If only Governor Terry Branstad, who has often spoken of his desire to make Iowa the "healthiest state," could recognize the benefits of burning less coal. Although Branstad was happy to bask in the reflected glory of new pollution controls at one of the affected Interstate Power and Light power plants, he welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court ruling against the mercury rule, which the governor's office characterized as a "misguided" EPA regulation.  

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Where are they now? Non-existent heated sidewalks edition

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jul 15, 2015 at 09:40:00 AM CDT

Bleeding Heartland's "Where are they now?" posts usually focus on new jobs for former elected officials, candidates for high office, or other prominent individuals in Iowa politics.

Todd Dorman's latest commentary for the Cedar Rapids Gazette prompted me to follow up on a smear from the 2010 state legislative elections.

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A close look at the status of abortion regulations in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 14, 2015 at 09:19:20 AM CDT

Anti-abortion activists suffered a setback last month when the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled unconstitutional the state ban on using telemedicine for medical abortions. But the health and human services budget for the fiscal year that began on July 1 contained two provisions sought by those who want to reduce the number of abortions performed in Iowa.

The first part of this post examines new language in the Iowa Code related to ultrasounds for women seeking abortions. Who was closer to the mark: Iowa Right to Life, which hailed the "HUGE life-saving victory" as the anti-choice movement's biggest legislative success in two decades? Or Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which countered that the ultrasound language would neither change the standard of care at their clinics nor "directly impact a woman's access to abortion"?

Next, the post addresses language lawmakers first adopted in 2013 and renewed in the just-passed human services budget, which allows the Iowa governor to determine whether Medicaid should reimburse for abortion services. No other state has a similar provision.

Finally, I offer some thoughts on an odd feature of anti-abortion activism in the Iowa legislature. State Senate Republicans advocate more for restrictions on abortion rights and access than do GOP representatives in the House, even though "pro-choice" Democrats control the upper chamber, while all 57 members of the House majority caucus are nominally "pro-life." Iowa House leaders have not been eager to put abortion bills on the agenda. This year, rank-and-file House Republicans didn't even introduce, let alone make a serious attempt to pass, companion bills to most of the abortion-related legislation their counterparts filed in the state Senate.

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AFSCME, 20 Democratic legislators sue Branstad over mental health closures (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 13, 2015 at 21:10:00 PM CDT

Iowa's largest public employee union and 20 Democratic state legislators filed a lawsuit today challenging the closure of mental health institutes in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda. I enclose below a press release from AFSCME Council 61, which lists the six state senators and fourteen state representatives who joined the lawsuit naming Governor Terry Branstad and Department of Human Services Director Chuck Palmer.

The Branstad administration announced plans in January to close two of Iowa's four in-patient mental health facilities. State legislators were neither consulted nor notified in advance. The Department of Human Services started winding down operations well before the end of the 2015 fiscal year. Democrats fought to include funding for the Clarinda and Mount Pleasant institutes in the budget for the current fiscal year, but Branstad item-vetoed the appropriation. The lawsuit contends that closing the facilities violates Iowa Code, which holds that the state "shall operate" mental health institutes in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda. The governor's communications director told KCCI that AFSCME's leader in Iowa "is resistant to change" and that the closed "centers were not suited to offer modern mental health care."

The Iowa legislature's decision next year on whether to fund the Clarinda and Mount Pleasant facilities will be critically important. The Iowa Supreme Court recently dismissed the lawsuit challenging the closure of the Iowa Juvenile Home in 2014, without considering the merits of that case, on the grounds that the legislature made the issue "moot" by no longer appropriating state money to operate that facility. By refusing to include funding for the two closed mental health institutes in the budget for fiscal year 2017, Iowa House Republicans could bolster the Branstad administration's efforts to defeat the lawsuit filed today.

UPDATE: Added more speculation about this lawsuit's prospects below.

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