IA-Sen: Republicans not interested in Jim Carlin

After keeping a relatively low profile during his first few years in the Iowa legislature, State Senator Jim Carlin has been “loud and proud” this year on matters that might appeal to conservative Republicans.

Speaking on the Iowa Senate floor, Carlin has repeatedly alleged that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. He introduced a “bathroom bill” that became the first legislation targeting trans youth to make it through an Iowa House or Senate subcommittee. He led an effort to ban employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccines, and turned a subcommittee hearing on that bill into a platform for airing anti-vaccination views. He introduced a bill that would have required state university employees to be surveyed about their political views.

Carlin announced in February that he would seek the 2022 Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, whether or not Senator Chuck Grassley runs for re-election. In a campaign video, he declared, “Donald Trump made the Republican Party the party of working men and women,” and outlined “core beliefs” that hit everything on the usual conservative checklist. “I know the people of Iowa very well,” Carlin told Jacob Hall of The Iowa Standard in February. “I’ve literally represented the forgotten man for the last 30 years.”

Nevertheless, the people of Iowa have little apparent interest in his Senate bid.

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Iowa House Republican shares anti-COVID vaccine memes

State Representative Ray Sorensen included two negative memes about COVID-19 vaccines in his latest weekly newsletter on Iowa legislative happenings.

Since early March, the Republican has regularly shared memes purporting to be humorous near the end of his online updates about bills the House has approved or is considering. The edition Sorensen sent out late last week, covering week 13 of the legislative session, included the following two images, interspersed with memes mocking public assistance programs, feminists, environmentalists, President Joe Biden, and leftist intellectuals.

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What if Iowa’s COVID-19 response had been among nation's best?

Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson compares Iowa’s per capita COVID-19 case rates and death rates to the numbers for neighboring states, the national average, and the best-performing state (Vermont). -promoted by Laura Belin

It is good that Iowans are getting their COVID-19 vaccinations apace. Iowa now ranks in the top half of states for having administered one dose, as gauged by percentage of population, and in the top third of the states for having administered a second.

No matter how well the state performs on vaccinations in the next few months, though, it will never excuse Iowa’s abysmal record over the past year in caring for its residents.

Iowa ranks seventh worst among the states in its incidence of coronavirus cases per capita, and 17th worst in its death rate. In short, Iowa’s political leadership, its perceived commercial imperatives, and its citizens unarguably came up short when compared with the rest of the U.S.

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Re-establishing Democratic governance

Charles Bruner is a longtime advocate for policies that support children and strengthen families. -promoted by Laura Belin

About this essay

I studied political science at the beginning of the 1970s at one of the elitist of universities, Stanford University. My graduate school class, if not all radicals, shared a serious critique of American government and the military-industrial complex, the Vietnam war, the academic privilege and not freedom that embodied the Stanford administration, and the failure for society to listen to youth and follow-through on the vision expressed in the decidedly liberal document, The Port Huron Statement.

I returned to Iowa in 1975 feeling alienated and full of angst at my better understanding of the darker side of American politics. But I had no clue how to contribute to changing it. Fortunately, I found a group of 20-somethings in Iowa – largely through the Community Action Research Group (Iowa’s Public Interest Research Group) – doing that work in the policy field on the environment. They connected me to a job at the Iowa Welfare Association funded by the Compensatory Education and Training Act, the federal jobs program that provided nonprofits with funding to create jobs. It gave me space to learn and grow, as it did for others in my group.

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Exclusive: Iowa governor's campaign opts donors into recurring contributions

Governor Kim Reynolds’ campaign is using pre-checked boxes for online fundraising to drive supporters toward recurring monthly contributions as well as additional one-time gifts.

The donation pages, associated with Facebook and Twitter posts bashing President Joe Biden’s policies, recall “aggressive” tactics President Donald Trump’s campaign used last year. As Shane Goldmacher reported for the New York Times earlier this month, the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee used pre-checked boxes to generate record-setting online fundraising in the summer and fall of 2020, followed by an unprecedented number of refunds to donors who felt duped.

Reynolds campaign representatives did not respond to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiries about the practice.

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States must apply for federal exemption when authorizing use of cannabis

Carl Olsen is the founder of Iowans for Medical Marijuana. -promoted by Laura Belin

Don’t be fooled by quasi-legal schemes to tax and regulate cannabis. There is a federal solution for doing this the right way.

If legislators tell you it makes their eyes glass over, tell them to leave the capitol and don’t come back until they are sober. They should not be legislating unless they can clearly see the road ahead.

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Grassley misleads on Republican "voting reform laws"

Herb Strentz: Senator Chuck Grassley does not acknowledge that if Americans are losing faith in democracy, it is partly because he and others avoid saying Joe Biden won the election. -promoted by Laura Belin

Seems like old times.

The April 10 issue of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley’s newsletter, THE SCOOP, calls to mind his old deceptions about government-run health plans that would “pull the plug on grandma,” and about the limited estate tax, which Grassley wrongly says has driven Iowa farm families into poverty or liquidation

Fear-mongering about “death panels” arose in 2009 in opposition to the health care reform bill (the Affordable Care Act). The “death tax” rhetoric continues to be a favorite for Grassley and Senator Joni Ernst, even though Neil Hamilton, former director of the Drake University Agricultural Law Center, has described such claims as “hogwash.”

In THE SCOOP, Grassley now misleads readers about what the state of Georgia’s recently enacted “voting reform” would do, and why Republican state legislatures around the nation are considering or have already adopted new restrictions on voting

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Healing our collective trauma

Ira Lacher considers whether “the only way to heal is to treat our society the way we would treat traumatized individuals: small-group therapy.” -promoted by Laura Belin

America has a mental health crisis.

Not the type conservatives insist makes someone turn a movie theater, shopping mall, or hotel parking lot into a kill zone. A mental health crisis that is contributing to a monumental, perhaps unprecedented loss of ability to connect with reality. The reason is extreme trauma on a national scale.

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Unanswered questions about the $30,100 dinner with Kim Reynolds

Governor Kim Reynolds made headlines on April 8 by telling a conservative talk radio host Iowa had turned down a request to shelter some unaccompanied migrant children in federal custody. “This is not our problem. This is the president’s problem,” Reynolds explained.

“No one will ever confuse Reynolds with Gov. Robert Ray,” observed political cartoonist Brian Duffy. “This is surely the low point of the administration of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds,” noted longtime commentator Chuck Offenburger. Many other Iowans were disappointed or even “ashamed” by the governor’s lack of compassion.

But never let it be said that Reynolds lacks any charitable impulses. Thanks to her willingness to donate her time and the use of a state-owned building, the private Des Moines Christian School raised $30,100 at its True-Blue Gala auction last night.

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Lessons from Bessemer

Buzz Malone is organizing director of Teamsters Local 238. -promoted by Laura Belin

Regardless of the outcome of the unionization campaign in Bessemer, Alabama, the efforts of workers there have delivered a powerful message to the nation.

Enacted 86 years ago, the National Labor Relations Act sent an equally powerful message to companies large and small: that workers have inalienable rights of free speech, legally protected concerted activity for economic improvements, and the right to form, join, and assist a union of their choosing.

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Exclusive: Bonuses push five Iowa agency heads above maximum pay

Governor Kim Reynolds has approved bonuses for at least five current state agency directors, allowing them to receive substantially more compensation than the top of the pay scale Iowa law sets for their positions.

The Iowa Department of Administrative Services disclosed information about four agency leaders now receiving such bonuses in response to Bleeding Heartland’s public records request. The Cedar Rapids Gazette’s Erin Jordan was first to report on Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Paul Trombino’s bonus, in an article published April 7.

This post discusses each official’s bonus pay in the order that they were awarded. The governor’s spokesperson Pat Garrett did not respond to an April 7 email seeking to clarify whether any other heads of state departments are receiving greater compensation than the statutory maximum for their positions.

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Iowa reports dozens of "new" COVID-19 deaths from 2020

Iowa’s official COVID-19 website added 68 more deaths over the weekend, bringing the state’s death toll to 5,822 (roughly one out of every 540 Iowans who was alive before the pandemic). The large increase was surprising; COVID-19 hospitalizations have been trending upward in recent weeks, but haven’t risen sharply enough to produce dozens of fatalities in just a few days.

It turns out that most of the newly reported deaths occurred more than three months ago.

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Racial disparities narrow in Iowa's COVID-19 vaccinations

As Iowa prepares to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults on April 5, racial and ethnic disparities in the state’s vaccination rates have narrowed slightly since Bleeding Heartland last reviewed this data four weeks ago. However, people of color have still received far fewer vaccine doses per capita, compared to white Iowans.

At least 1,588,117 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to Iowa residents, according to the state’s vaccination dashboard on April 4. At least 662,885 Iowans have received all required doses of a COVID-19 vaccine (that is, two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine). Another 368,646 Iowans “have received one dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series, but have not completed the series.”

Breaking down the numbers by race and ethnicity, it’s apparent that Iowa has a long way to go to achieve equity in vaccine distribution.

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