What the voting rights order revealed about Kim Reynolds

“Quite simply, when someone serves their sentence and pays the price our justice system has set for their crimes, they should have their right to vote restored automatically, plain and simple,” Governor Kim Reynolds said on August 5, shortly before signing a critically important document.

Executive Order 7 automatically restores voting rights to most Iowans who have completed prison sentences or terms of probation or parole associated with felony convictions. The Iowa-Nebraska NAACP estimated that the order paves the way for more than 40,000 people to vote this year. Going forward, approximately 4,700 Iowans who complete felony sentences each year will regain the same rights.

Reynolds had publicly promised to sign such an order seven weeks ago, after Republican senators declined to advance the state constitutional amendment that was her preferred way of addressing the problem.

Both the substance of the measure and the way the governor announced it revealed aspects of her leadership style.

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We can run. We can try to hide. But there is no Planet B

Julie Ann Neely: “We will live through this, but when the pandemic runs its course, environmental degradation will remain to disrupt our economy and threaten our health.” -promoted by Laura Belin

While simultaneously trying to stay safe and reopen the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic reminds us daily that we are all part of the interconnected web of life on earth. We are struggling with unprecedented disruptions in healthcare and the economy, as climate disasters increase in frequency and intensity, exacerbating health risks.

Long after this wave of infections ebbs and a vaccine is developed, we will still live with the reverberations. Whether we are able to deal with them depends on the leaders we elect in November.

In the grand scheme of things, Mother Earth doesn’t give a fig about politics, the stock market, big profits, or the lines we draw in the sand that divide us. Nor does she need us. 

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We deserve a break today. Two folks well worth "hooray"!

Herb Strentz profiles the most trusted figure of the COVID-19 pandemic and a Sister of Charity whose service to the targets of the Postville raid was legendary. -promoted by Laura Belin

Pardon the trifling with the McDonald’s jingle, but it catches the refreshing touch intended to recognize a couple of wonderful people — one you’re familiar with and one you’ll be delighted to meet.

They are Dr. Anthony Fauci, 79, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, and Mary McCauley, 81, a Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Virginia stickseed

Today’s featured plant won’t win any popularity contests. In fact, I know people who rip Virginia stickseed (Hackelia virginiana) out of the ground as soon as they identify it anywhere on their property.

This common woodland species, sometimes just called stickseed, has unimpressive flowers that become irritating burs. The burs spawned the common names beggar’s lice or sticktight. I don’t pull up these plants like I do with garlic mustard, but I keep an eye out for them so my shoes, clothes, and dog don’t end up covered in burs.

Virginia stickseed is native to most of the U.S. and Canada east of the Rocky Mountains. I frequently see it in the woods or near woodland edges. According to the Illinois Wildflowers site, “Stickseed prefers disturbed wooded areas and it is rather weedy.”

I took the pictures enclosed below in Windsor Heights, Clive, or Urbandale.

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Keep the lights on for our kids

Katie Rock is the Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Iowa. Beyond Coal is a national campaign led by the Sierra Club to retire the U.S. coal fleet by 2030. You can find her on Twitter @KatieRockIA. -promoted by Laura Belin

Our current unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. Now is the time when we need to think and act boldly as a community so we can all get through this together. We need our state, and our service and utility providers to step up for families. We need to ensure no one faces eviction or loses their essential services during this time.

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Exclusive: Iowa's state medical director received 45% pay raise

The base pay for Iowa’s medical director and state epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati increased by 45 percent as the current fiscal year began on July 1, records obtained by Bleeding Heartland show. The additional $3,144 that Pedati began receiving per two-week pay period would translate to an extra $81,744 in base salary over twelve months.

The doctor leading the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response also received more than $55,000 in overtime pay from March through early July, even though her job class would not normally be eligible for overtime compensation.

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