Five takeaways from the Iowa legislature's opening day in 2018

The Iowa House and Senate convened Monday with the usual big promises and platitudes about working together to build a better future for Iowans.

Behind the optimistic rhetoric, all signs point to another contentious legislative session. The opening day speeches by Republican and Democratic leaders, enclosed in full below, revealed almost no common ground about the focus of lawmakers’ work and no indication that the most important bills will incorporate Democratic ideas. My takeaways:

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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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No wonder Bill Dix wanted to bury the GOP sexual harassment investigation

Less than two weeks ago, Iowa Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix led journalists to believe there was no written report from the internal investigation of sexual harassment in the Senate GOP caucus.

Senate leaders arranged to have a redacted version of that report (addressed to Dix’s attention and dated August 15) published the day after Thanksgiving, when few Iowans would be paying attention to political news.

No wonder the original plan was to keep these findings secret: they reveal ongoing problems in the workplace as well as inherent flaws of an in-house investigation.

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Bill Dix: No More Mr. Nice Guy

Tracy Freese: In the private sector, Iowa Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix’s handling of a sexual harassment scandal would have gotten him fired and escorted from the building. Freese is Dix’s Democratic challenger in Iowa Senate district 25. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix has been hailed as a nice guy. That façade cracked during Tuesday’s press conference with Iowa media outlets. The exchange began nicely enough; Mr. Dix came off as friendly and humble. He played the lovable fool and reminded me of the neighbor you would expect to sell ten boxes of Girl Scout cookies to.

But by the end of his time in front of the cameras and microphones, his demeanor took a turn for the worse.

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Iowans left in the dark on Senate GOP sexual harassment investigation

Iowa Senate Republican leaders have never acknowledged that Kirsten Anderson faced sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation while working for the Senate GOP caucus.

They have stuck to the unconvincing story that Anderson lost her job (hours after she had submitted a written complaint about a hostile work environment) solely because of her writing skills.

They didn’t allow an independent investigation of the allegations Anderson raised in a lawsuit, which a Polk County jury unanimously found credible.

They aren’t releasing any findings from an internal investigation of those allegations.

They have ensured that the legislature’s new human resources director will report to Republican political appointees.

Yet they want us to take their word for it that harassment at the statehouse will not be tolerated.

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How three new activists got involved in Scott County

Guest posts on local political happenings are welcome at Bleeding Heartland. -promoted by desmoinesdem

In the last year, we have seen a flood of new energy and political involvement throughout the country, from the Women’s March, to the Indivisible movement, to protests, letter-writing campaigns, and citizens showing up at forums to confront their elected officials.

We have also seen a great deal of new people get involved with the Scott County Democratic Party since the election. We spoke with a few of our newer activists to ask how they decided to get involved and what their experience has been like.

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