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IOWA FAMILIES DENIED ACCESS TO EVIDENCE-BASED CARE

by: IowaBirth

Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 14:06:21 PM CST

(Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest diaries advocating for or against bills pending in the Iowa legislature. The link to the study mentioned in the second paragraph appears to be broken. Here is the abstract from a peer-reviewed medical journal. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com... - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Friends of Iowa Midwives has worked with legislators to present companion bills in the House and Senate that would allow for safe and legal access to Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in Iowa.  For 15 years Friends of Iowa Midwives has worked toward licensure for CPMs. In 1999 the Iowa Legislature conducted a scope of practice review, the result of which was a recommendation to the legislature that the CPMs should be licensed through the Iowa Department of Public Health.  The bills propose that a license be created for the already trained and nationally certified midwives who seek to provide quality and safe care to Iowa women.

Every year in Iowa, more than 500 women choose to give birth outside of the hospital.  This number is on the rise both in Iowa and nationally.  A study published last month in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health again demonstrated that for low-risk women out-of-hospital birth with skilled providers is a safe option.  This study found that almost 94% of the nearly 17,000 participants had a spontaneous vaginal birth.  The cesarean rate for this study was 5.2%.  The national average cesarean rate is 33%.  The in-labor transfer rate for this study was between 8-23%.  The most common reason for a transfer of care was prolonged labor or what is commonly called failure to progress. This study was one of among several that have demonstrated that out-of-hospital birth is a safe option for low-risk women. 

 

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Curtain falls on Kent Sorenson's political career

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 17:47:00 PM CDT

State Senator Kent Sorenson resigned this afternoon after special investigator Mark Weinhardt filed a damning report with the Iowa Senate on Sorenson's conduct. Iowa Senate ethics rules don't allow senators to receive payment from political action committees, but Weinhardt found probable cause that money from political action committees supporting presidential candidate Michele Bachmann flowed to Sorenson indirectly by way of consulting firms. The Des Moines Register uploaded the more than 500-page report in two pdf file: volume one and volume two. Weinhardt also discussed "deeply suspicious" wire transfers and a check Sorenson received from a Ron Paul presidential campaign official.

Speaking to the Des Moines Register today, both Sorenson and his attorney Ted Sporer insisted that the senator never lied, because he was a subcontractor, not an employee of Bachmann's campaign.

Senate Ethics Committee Chair Wally Horn announced plans to convene a meeting of that committee next week. Later this afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix said in a statement, "Today, I called for Senator Sorenson's resignation, and he agreed to do so effective immediately."

While looking for Dix's full statement on the Iowa Senate Republicans website, I was amused to see photos of Sorenson scrolling across the front page, featuring "latest news" from May 28. Apparently no one involved with the Senate GOP caucus has figured out how to keep the website up to date since Dix fired their key communications staffer in May. For fun and for posterity, I took a screen shot that I've posted after the jump.

Sorenson's resignation opens up Republican-leaning Senate district 13. I haven't heard yet about any candidates from either party planning to run for that seat in 2014. UPDATE: John Deeth speculates on possible candidates for the special election in that district. I think Iowa House Democrat Scott Ourth will stay in House district 26 rather than run for the Senate seat.

UPDATE: O.Kay Henderson posted the e-mail Sorenson sent to his constituents today. I've enclosed the relevant portion below. He accuses his opponents of conducting a "straight-up political witch hunt" against him because he tried to remove Iowa Supreme Court justices from the bench. What ever happened to personal responsibility?

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Will Branstad fix the mess his mental health funding veto created?

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 07:45:00 AM CDT

Iowa's constitution allows the governor to line-item veto provisions in appropriations bills, and Governor Terry Branstad has used that power to overrule legislative decisions on many spending proposals, large and small. Among this year's line-item vetoes, perhaps the most controversial was Branstad's surprising decision to ax $13 million for mental health services. That line item was intended to cushion the blow for counties as Iowa reorganizes its mental health care delivery system. (In the past, available care depended greatly on a patient's county of residence.) Despite broad bipartisan support for this appropriation and a large state budget surplus, Branstad decided that counties didn't need extra help with mental health services.

This week four Democratic state senators and one Republican asked Branstad to help fix the mess he created, which has already led to some service cuts.

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IA-Gov: Hatch rolls out campaign, Olson rolls out endorsements (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 14:19:52 PM CDT

State Senator Jack Hatch made his candidacy for governor official in Des Moines this morning, en route to campaign stops in five other Iowa cities. A few days ago, State Representative Tyler Olson sought to build momentum by revealing a long list of state lawmakers who support his gubernatorial campaign.

After the jump I've posted Hatch's announcement, the full list of Iowa House and Senate Democrats backing Olson, and a few thoughts on the big question each candidate will have to answer before next June's primary.

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

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 10:57:01 AM CDT

The Daily Kos Elections team has been compiling 2012 presidential election results by state legislative district as well as by Congressional district. Yesterday the Iowa numbers were added to the database. You can view Google documents with raw vote totals and percentages for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney by Iowa Congressional district here, by Iowa Senate district here, and by Iowa House district here.

Looking closely at the presidential vote in the legislative districts provides some insight about where the competitive Iowa statehouse races might be next year. After the jump I've highlighted some key data points related to the Iowa Senate races. Later I will post a separate diary with first thoughts about the Iowa House districts.

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Last-minute Iowa legislative scramble is nothing to brag about

by: desmoinesdem

Fri May 24, 2013 at 12:30:00 PM CDT

The Iowa Senate wrapped up its work for the year shortly after midnight on May 23, and Iowa House members adjourned about 11 hours later. Lawmakers in both parties have been congratulating themselves for compromising on some big issues that ended in stalemate the previous two years. Rod Boshart compiled an excellent list of what the legislature did and didn't approve during 2013.

We all can appreciate the desire to finish a big project before a holiday weekend, and since legislators stopped receiving per diem payments weeks ago, they understandably wanted to get out of town as quickly as possible. However, I found it disturbing that votes were held before most lawmakers, let alone members of the public, had time to digest final conference committee deals on education reform, an alternative to Medicaid expansion, property taxes, and the health and human services budget. Transparency isn't just a buzzword. Had journalists and advocacy groups been able to look over the last-minute compromises, people might have discovered problematic language or even simple drafting errors, which could produce unintended consequences after Governor Terry Branstad signs these bills into law.

I have a lot of questions about the final education reform bill and the plan to provide health insurance to low-income Iowans, particularly those earning between 101 percent and 138 percent of the poverty level. I also need more time to sort through the budget numbers and final changes to the standings bill. After the holiday weekend Bleeding Heartland will examine the important results of the legislative session in more detail. For now, I've posted after the jump details on who voted for and against the major bills approved this week.

UPDATE: In the May 24 edition of the On Iowa Politics podcast, statehouse reporters Mike Wiser and James Lynch discussed how the big issues came together "behind closed doors," with no public scrutiny or oversight. Lynch commented that to his knowledge, the conference committee named to resolve the impasse over Medicaid expansion never formally met, except perhaps for one organizational meeting. Lynch recounted one occasion when Iowa House Republican Dave Heaton was briefing journalists about the health care talks, and the journalists asked when that happened, since there hadn't been any public notices of conference committee meetings. According to Lynch, Heaton replied, "We're not having meetings, but we're meeting." Senate President Pam Jochum said that negotiations between Democratic State Senator Amanda Ragan and House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer produced the "key to Iowa's health care compromise." Notably, Upmeyer didn't have a prominent role in passing the House health insurance plan, nor was she named to the conference committee assigned to merge the House and Senate proposals.

Speaking to journalists on May 22, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and Jochum weren't able to answer a specific question about compromise wording reached regarding Medicaid coverage of abortions. That was no minor issue--it was the last sticking point holding up approval of the health and human services budget. In effect, Gronstal told journalists, you can see the wording after the final bill is published.

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IA-01: Swati Dandekar forms exploratory committee (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu May 09, 2013 at 21:21:00 PM CDT

Former State Senator Swati Dandekar confirmed today that she is considering a campaign in Iowa's open first Congressional district. State Senator Wally Horn of Cedar Rapids and Tina Patterson of Marion will co-chair her exploratory committee. Dandekar expects to decide this summer whether to run for Congress. In the meantime, she will continue serving on the Iowa Utilities Board but will "not participate in decisions of any contested matters before the board."

Bleeding Heartland discussed Dandekar's potential strengths and weaknesses as a candidate here. I remain skeptical that she would win a Democratic primary, because of her legislative voting record and her decision to put the Iowa Senate majority in jeopardy in 2011, when she accepted Governor Terry Branstad's appointment to the Iowa Utilities Board. Dandekar emphasized in a statement today, " I know it is important to the people living in Northeast Iowa to continue the strong representation established by Congressman Bruce Braley. We must keep this seat in Democratic hands."  

So far State Representative Pat Murphy is the only declared Democratic candidate in IA-01. Any comments about this race are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Added reaction from Murphy, details about the online presence of Dandekar's exploratory committee, and the potential candidate's official bio after the jump.

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Another Iowa legislative victory for Big Ag

by: desmoinesdem

Wed May 08, 2013 at 09:49:00 AM CDT

Factory farm advocates failed in 2009 to circumvent the Iowa DNR's rulemaking on applying manure over frozen and snow-covered ground. Then they failed in 2010 to win passage of a bill designed to weaken Iowa's newly-adopted regulations on manure storage and application.

But this year, the Iowa Pork Producers Association succeeded in convincing state lawmakers to relax requirements for CAFO operators to be able to store their own manure properly. All they had to do was dress up their effort as an attempt to help families with aspiring young farmers.

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Special investigator will examine ethics complaint against Kent Sorenson

by: desmoinesdem

Wed May 01, 2013 at 15:45:00 PM CDT

Today the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee voted to appoint a special investigator to look into allegations that Republican State Senator Kent Sorenson broke Senate rules against being paid for political campaign work. It was the least they could do, in light of testimony submitted recently by U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann's former chief of staff. Even so, two Republicans on the Committee voted against launching an investigation. Jack Whitver claimed the action would encourage "frivolous" ethics charges to be investigated regardless of supporting evidence. Jerry Behn said the complaint was based on "hearsay," even though e-mail correspondence and an affidavit attested to Sorenson receiving indirect payments.

Republican Senator Sandy Greiner voted with the three Democrats on the Ethics Committee (Wally Horn, Joe Seng, and Dick Dearden) to launch an investigation. O.Kay Henderson posted audio from the committee meeting at Radio Iowa. Horn emphasized the need to protect Iowa's first in the nation status for the presidential race. Greiner said she hoped the investigator would find Sorenson to be "as pure as the driven snow" but noted, "there's going to be a cloud over this entire chamber if we don't attempt to get to the bottom of this."

Sorenson claims he is an innocent victim of a "witch hunt" and submitted documents in his defense to the Ethics Committee. Iowa Senate Secretary Mike Marshall told journalists that the complaint "still could ultimately be dismissed after the investigation."

LATE UPDATE: On May 10, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady signed an order naming Des Moines attorney Mark Weinhardt "special counsel" to investigate these allegations. Background on Weinhardt is after the jump.

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Affidavit details indirect salary payments for Kent Sorenson

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 07:05:00 AM CDT

Following up on last Friday's post, Michele Bachmann's former chief of staff Andy Parrish signed an affidavit yesterday containing details on State Senator Kent Sorenson's compensation for work on the Bachmann presidential campaign.  
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Real trouble brewing for Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson?

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 12:20:00 PM CDT

Two months ago, the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee voted to table allegations that Republican State Senator Kent Sorenson received improper payments as Iowa chair of Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign. This week a former Bachmann campaign staffer confirmed that he will soon submit testimony to the committee about the arrangement.
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IA-Sen: Most Democratic state legislators endorse Braley

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 10:10:00 AM CDT

Representative Bruce Braley's campaign for U.S. Senate rolled out its largest batch of endorsements today: 71 state legislators. All 26 Iowa Senate Democrats plus 45 of the 47 Iowa House Democrats are named in the press release I've posted after the jump. For some reason, Iowa House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy are not in this group. Murphy is running for the first Congressional district seat Braley is vacating.

Earlier this week, Braley's campaign announced that it raised more than $1 million during the first quarter. That is a solid number, and I'll be interested to see how the numbers break own (contributions from individuals vs PACs, for instance). Bleeding Heartland will publish a detailed roundup of Iowa Congressional fundraising after all the candidates have filed their reports with the Federal Election Commission. Those reports are due April 15.

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Iowa Senate approves Medicaid expansion along party lines

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 12:55:00 PM CDT

Last night the Iowa Senate approved Senate File 296, a bill to expand Medicaid, on a strictly party-line vote of 26 to 23. You can listen to the entire Senate debate (approximately 90 minutes) at Radio Iowa. I've posted highlights from the debate after the jump, along with the full list of 52 organizations that have registered their support for Senate File 296. Some corporations and organizations have have registered their lobbyists as undecided on Senate File 296, but at this writing, not a single organization is registered against the Medicaid expansion.
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Iowa Senate Ethics Committee punts on Sorenson allegation

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 10:00:07 AM CST

The Iowa Senate Ethics committee (unofficial slogan: "See no evil, hear no evil") met yesterday to consider an ethics complaint filed against Republican Senator Kent Sorenson. Five of the six committee members voted to table two serious allegations raised by Peter Waldron, who was a consultant for Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign while Sorenson was the campaign's Iowa chair in 2011.
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Kent Sorenson: Sleazier than you thought?

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 07:55:28 AM CST

One of the most unpleasant members of the Iowa legislature may have committed an ethics violation, according to a former consultant for Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign.
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Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2013

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 13:18:54 PM CST

The Iowa legislature's 2013 session opened today. After the jump I've posted details on the Iowa Senate majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing Senate committees. Where relevant, I've noted changes since last year. Click here for a similar post on the new Iowa House.

Democrats hold a 26 to 24 majority in the upper chamber. The huge experience gap between the Iowa Senate caucuses is striking. Only seven of the 24 Republicans have served as lawmakers in either the House or Senate for more than four years, whereas 19 of the 26 Democrats have more than four years of legislative service. Click here for details on the tenure of all 50 Iowa senators.

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More proof smoking bans save lives

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 17:09:58 PM CST

How about a little good news on a lousy day? A new study confirms previous research, which showed public smoking bans reduce hospitalizations for heart attacks and other life-threatening problems. The Iowa Smokefree Air Act, which went into effect in July 2008, has likely prevented many premature deaths.

UPDATE: The smoking ban was controversial while it was debated in 2008. Below I've listed all of the state legislators who had the courage to send that bill to Governor Chet Culver's desk.  

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Iowa Senate Democrats announce committee chairs

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 10:20:00 AM CST

One day after a special election confirmed there will be 26 Democrats and 24 Republicans in the Iowa Senate next year, Senate Democrats released updated committee assignments. After the jump I've posted the full list of committee chairs as well as the leadership team chosen a few weeks ago. Most committees have the same leaders as in 2012, but where relevant I've noted changes.
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Huge experience gap between Iowa Senate Democrats and Republicans

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 06:55:00 AM CST

Democrats will hold a slim majority in the next Iowa Senate: most likely 26-24 or 27-23, depending on the outcome of one recount and one special election in December. But the experience gap between the two parties' caucuses is wider than I've ever seen, and perhaps unprecedented.

Only five Republicans who will serve in the next Iowa Senate have more than four years experience in the legislature's upper chamber. Most of the old hands aren't on the GOP leadership team. By comparison, eighteen Senate Democrats have held that office for more than four years. Thirteen of those have served in the upper chamber for at least a decade.

Many newcomers to the Iowa Senate have helped oversee public-sector budgets and programs as county supervisors, mayors, or members of city councils and school boards. Nevertheless, new legislators have a steep learning curve because state government is more complex than local government, and Iowa House and Senate members consider a wider range of issues during a typical legislative session. Whereas eleven Senate Democrats previously served in the Iowa House, only three sitting Republicans came to the Senate with that background. If the GOP had gained control of the upper chamber in this year's elections, they would have been forced to put quite a few rookies in charge of standing committees.

After the jump I've posted details on the tenure of all incoming Iowa Senate members, indicating members of each party's leadership team and past service in the Iowa House.

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Gronstal, Jochum to lead Iowa Senate Democrats

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 07:39:16 AM CST

Iowa Senate Democrats caucused at the state capitol yesterday to choose their leaders for the next legislative session. As expected, Mike Gronstal remains Senate majority leader. The big change will be Pam Jochum of Dubuque as Senate president to replace Jack Kibbie, who retired last year.

After the jump I've enclosed background on Jochum and details on the rest of the Iowa Senate leadership team. Republicans elected leaders of their Senate caucus last week. Both parties will announce committee assignments before the end of the year.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 709 words in story)
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