IA-Gov: Sales tax hike for conservation may become fault line in 2018

Leaders of a campaign to provide a "permanent and constitutionally protected funding source dedicated to clean water, productive agricultural soils and thriving wildlife habitats" in Iowa touted support in the business and agriculture communities this week. You can watch Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy’s September 12 press conference here or listen to the audio at Radio Iowa. Under a state constitutional amendment Iowa voters adopted in 2010, revenues generated by the next 3/8th of a cent sales tax increase (estimated at more than $180 million per year) would flow into a Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. Scroll to the end of this post for a current list of IWLL coalition members and details on the formula for allocating trust fund money.

Without knowing which parties will control the Iowa House and Senate next year, it’s hard to gauge prospects for passing a sales tax increase. Democratic State Senator Matt McCoy commented on Monday, "The best time to move on a piece of legislation is just following an election. That’s when you get your best bipartisan compromises, and I think ultimately, this is something we can find a bipartisan compromise on."

Who might lead statehouse Republicans toward such a compromise is unclear. The GOP lawmaker most supportive of IWLL has been State Senator David Johnson. But he left the party this summer to protest presidential nominee Donald Trump and told Bleeding Heartland in a recent interview that he plans to remain an independent during the 2017 legislative session.

At least one Republican running for governor in 2018 will support the sales tax increase: Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett. That stance will put him in conflict with either Governor Terry Branstad or his chosen successor, Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds. In addition, support for funding IWLL among major farm lobby groups could create problems for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, also a likely gubernatorial candidate in 2018.

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Zika funding a classic case of systemic Congressional failure

U.S. House and Senate members returned to work Tuesday, no better equipped to handle basic tasks of governance than they were before their unusually long summer recess.

You might think funding to combat a public health emergency would be easy to pass even in a hyper-partisan, election-year atmosphere. But you would be wrong, because legislation to pay for a Zika virus response remains tied up over "poison pills."

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Bakken pipeline received final federal permit; land use lawsuit pending

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has granted the Texas-based Dakota Access company a federal permit to build the Bakken pipeline across Iowa.

Although opponents plan various forms of direct action, the best remaining chance for stopping the pipeline is a lawsuit challenging the Iowa Utilities Board’s authority to use eminent domain for a project with no legitimate public purpose.

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A plea to Iowa supporters of Bernie Sanders

Although I caucused for Hillary Clinton this year, in most presidential elections I have ended up where Bernie Sanders supporters are now: disappointed and convinced that the candidate I preferred would have been a better president as well as better positioned to beat the Republican nominee.

In a speech to his supporters last Thursday, Sanders did not explicitly concede the Democratic nomination. He vowed to do his part to "make certain that Donald Trump is defeated and defeated badly" while leading "our grassroots efforts to create the America that we know we can become."

Whether you accept the "inevitable" or still believe Sanders can become the Democratic nominee for president, whether you are willing to "hold your nose" and vote for Hillary or are firmly #BernieOrBust, I have one request for the Iowans who backed Sanders throughout this past year.

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Iowa Conservation Voters PAC

Guest posts on behalf of progressive advocacy groups are welcome here. -promoted by desmoinesdem

The following post is submitted by Mark Langgin, Mike Delaney and Rob Davis, board members of Iowa Conservation Voters. Langgin is a partner with GPS Impact and has worked with a number of local and national conservation organizations. Delaney is founder of the Raccoon River Watershed Association and a leading environmental activist. Davis is a former broadcast journalist, former business owner, and in retirement worked as a clerk in the Iowa House of Representatives.

If you’re interested in clean drink water, protection of Iowa’s water/land/wildlife, access and permanent protection of public lands, and fighting global climate change, listen up.

The 2016 legislative session was a major disappointment – with little to no progress on significant water quality legislation, continued underfunding of REAP and a wide array of other environmental failures. The lone exception was legislation to help protect turtles from overharvesting for profit.

If you are as disappointed as we are, then you know Iowa needs legislators who are committed to protecting Iowa’s water, land and wildlife from pollution and climate change.

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Iowa House district 41: Jo Oldson's and Eddie Mauro's pitches to voters

UPDATE: Oldson won this race by a 67 percent to 33 percent margin.

One of the most closely-watched state legislative results tonight will be the contest between seven-term State Representative Jo Oldson and Democratic challenger Eddie Mauro in Iowa House district 41. The district covering parts of the west and south sides of Des Moines contains more than twice as many Democrats as Republicans, so the winner of today’s primary will almost certainly be elected in November, even if the GOP nominates a candidate late here. (No one filed in time to run in the GOP primary.)

Both campaigns have been working the phones and knocking on doors for months. Iowa’s two largest labor unions, AFSCME and the Iowa Federation of Labor, as well as the National Abortion Rights Action League have been doing GOTV for Oldson, as have a number of her fellow Iowa House Democrats. As of May 24, the early voting numbers in House district 41 were higher than for any other state House race.

Bleeding Heartland posted background on Oldson and Mauro here. I’ve encouraged my friends in the district to stick with Oldson. She has been a reliable progressive vote on major legislation, and she was among only thirteen House Democrats to vote against the costly and ineffective 2013 commercial property tax cut. I have no problem with an entrenched incumbent facing a primary challenge. No one is entitled to hold a legislative seat for life. But even if women were not already underrepresented in the Iowa House—which they are and will continue to be—I would need a better reason to replace a capable incumbent than the reasons Mauro has offered in his literature and in an interview with me last month. Excerpts from that interview are below, along with examples of campaign literature Democrats in House district 41 have been receiving in the mailbox and at the doorstep.

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