Republicans blow a billion-dollar hole in the budget

Matt Chapman reports from today’s Iowa Senate committee hearings on a massive tax bill published the previous day. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Senate Republicans dropped Senate Study Bill 3197 on February 21, scheduling a subcommittee on the tax plan first thing the following morning and a full Ways and Means Committee to consider the bill shortly after lunch. They had employed a similar shock-and-awe tactic last week to get Senate Study Bill 3193 through the legislature’s “funnel” on the last possible day. That bill, modeled after a Florida law deemed unconstitutional, called for drug testing Medicaid and food assistance (SNAP) recipients, along with quarterly instead of yearly recertification and work requirements.

In opening comments on his tax proposal, Senate Ways and Means Chair Randy Feenstra said SSB 3197 was “bold” and would save Iowans an average of $1,000 in taxes. You can watch the whole meeting on video here.

Senator Pam Jochum, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said she was looking forward to input from EMS and firefighters, among others, since this bill would end deductions. She was also concerned that there was no fiscal impact statement and wanted to be sure it fit the budget. Jochum asked Feenstra if he had any data he could share.

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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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Democratic gubernatorial candidates should go back to the future

Jeff Cox sees one gubernatorial contender best positioned to help Democrats become the majority party again. Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts advocating for candidates in competitive Democratic primaries. Please read these guidelines before writing. -promoted by desmoinesdem

There is only one word to use when surveying the damage the Republicans are doing to Iowa and America: depressing. We need to keep our eye on the ball, though, and avoid being diverted into competitive name-calling with Republicans. We need to elect Democrats until we regain a majority at every level of government. In the present crisis, any Democratic victory is a win, no matter how awful the Democrat.

In addition to issuing an “all hands on deck” call to elect Democrats, we should also have a discussion about how we got into this mess of being a minority party at every level of government. We could do worse than look back to a period of history when Democrats were the natural party of government, the half century beginning in 1932.

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Urgent: Deaf/Hard of hearing language acquisition bill

Dirk Hillard, Carly Armour, Robert Vizzini, and Vania Kassouf advocate for legislation designed to help Deaf and hard of hearing children be better prepared for kindergarten. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Did you know there are 28 million Americans and approximately 430,000 individuals in the state of Iowa who are Deaf or hard of hearing? Did you know that Iowa’s Deaf and hard of hearing children ages 0-5 are not showing up as kindergarten ready due to lack of language acquisition?

The Language Equality & Acquisition for Deaf Kids to be kindergarten ready (LEAD-K) bill is needed because a majority of Deaf and hard of hearing children are academically very far behind when compared with their peers. This is a serious national education concern, which some states are beginning to address. Iowa’s children are no exception, but the State Department of Education has a long way to go to make changes.

Senator Rob Hogg introduced Senate File 2076, and State Representative Art Staed introduced the companion bill, House File 2140. We are writing to correct some misperceptions about this bill, which have been brought to our attention.

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Weekend thread: Big Iowa problems

A majority of Iowans think mental health services, student loan debt, child welfare services, state university tuition, and the state budget are either a “crisis” or a “big problem” for Iowa, according to the latest Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom. Among nine issues tested in the survey of 801 Iowa adults in late January, mental health services registered as the top concern: 35 percent of respondents described the situation as a crisis, 38 percent as a big problem. No other topic registered above 20 percent for “crisis.”

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