Progressive States Network Gives Iowa Top Ranking on Progressive Policy Gains

The Progressive States Network ranked each state on the progressive policy gains they made in the past year.  Iowa received the top ranking as a Star state

With Democratic leadership of both legislative chambers and the governorship for the first time in forty years, the result in Iowa was a series of landmark legislative achievements, with a promise of even greater achievement in 2008: 

·  One of the signature bills of the session was the creation of the Iowa Power Fund, a $100 million investment in the state's renewable energy industry.


·  Iowa approved Election Day Registration, a key reform to improve voter turnout in future elections.


·  Along with raising the state minimum wage in line with likely federal increases, the legislature approved an increase in the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit to 7% and made the credit refundable.


·  Iowa became the 18th state to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and the 11th state to ban discrimination based on gender identity.


·  Teacher salaries will advance to the national average, a $250 million teacher pay increase.


·  The legislature voted to end paperless electronic voting and move the state towards voter-marked paper ballots.


·  The Senate approved a resolution opposing the President's escalation in Iraq.


On health care, the state raised the cigarette tax by $1 per pack, allowed small businesses to band together in purchasing pools, and encouraged embryonic stem cell research by repealing a 2002 law that prohibited human cloning.  More comprehensive health care reforms were turned over to a committee to recommend changes for the 2008 legislature.


On the downside, the legislature failed to enact pro-union reforms of Iowa's “right to work for less” law and failed to enact a prevailing wage law to raise wages on public construction projects to match the wages paid in the private sector.

Here are the rest of the rankings…

  • Star States who advanced progressive reforms on multiple fronts:

    Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington


  • Policy Leaders who enacted important reforms but could have achieved far more:

    Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada


  • Incremental Gainers who made solid if unspectacular progress this session:

    Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Nebraska, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia


  • Leadership Laggards who either accomplished little or balanced negative and positive policy changes:

    Alaska, Kansas, Kentucky, Lousiana, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming


  • Bottom of the Barrel states which distinguished themselves by rightwing policies or particularly dysfunctional leadership:

    Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri

About the Author(s)


  • that's surprising to me

    given how little progress we made on environmental issues. I hope the Power Fund turns out to be a good thing, but my fear is that all the money will go toward ethanol and biodiesel.

    • Wind energy

      With as much of an industrial focus Iowa is beginning to show towards wind energy, I could the Iowa Power Fund being used to create an even stronger wind power industry and environment in Iowa.  We’ve got a manufacturing plant for turbines in Cedar Rapids and more proposed wind farms across the state.  Significant state and local investment are needed, as are groups and lobbies willing to take on the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Farm Bureau, and the other big corn and soybean industries.

      • we also need to promote solar

        Iowa is actually a pretty good state for solar, and of course there would be a lot of potential manufacturing jobs making equipment if solar took off here and in other parts of the country.

  • Power Fund is not enough

    But we will have a great opportunity to move many energy issues forward next year with the new energy czar on board and several energy-related reports that the legislature requested due by the end of the year.