How one Democrat’s work will let Iowa Republicans pack the courts

Feb 08, 2019

Stacking the Court is Wrong!

What an amazing piece of journalism! Laura, thanks for the hard work digging out the history of that odd language. Who ever heard of a constitutional provision saying, in essence, this is the way it will be, unless the Legislature changes it ….. ? I could hardly believe it when I read it the other day, but there it is.
This bill may be the worst of all the radical moves by Iowa Republicans since they obtained “the trifecta.” While awful, the other changes did not assault the checks and balances between Iowa’s three branches of state government. This latest bill does precisely that. It is a stark assault on the independence of the judiciary and it is wrong! It injects politics into the judiciary in a way that Iowa has not experienced for nearly 60 years.
Iowa has two policies that place it above the nation in the way of good government; our non-partisan redistricting process and our judicial nominating process. We truly are the envy of the nation in those two areas. While so many of us were concerned the R’s would go after redistricting, we didn’t anticipate this attack on the judiciary. What goes around comes around, and they will someday be on the other end of this if they pass this. On the other hand, Democrats are so civic-minded that we’ll likely change it back when we have the chance to do so, and I’d hope that day would come sooner than later as this change will almost certainly send Iowa back to a time when the fairness of the judiciary was in question.

For the love of the game

Feb 08, 2019

Bah, indeed!

I’m a traditionalist baseball fan. I absolutely despise the designated hitter! For me, watching an American League game is like watching paint dry. Guys come up to bat. Guys take their cuts. Guys sit down. There is little strategy other than where to position players and when to change pitchers. I get pumped when I realize at an Iowa Cubs game that I’m watching two NL affiliates play because the DH won’t be used. It’s just more fun for me to have to think along with the managers as they try to figure out how to deal with a structural weakness in their lineup, or with the neat surprise you get with a pitcher who can actually hit well. Having a DH reduces variables. The DH does give good hitters who can’t field a lick a chance to play in the majors, but it isn’t worth it when you lose so much in the way of strategy.

Why I support the local option sales tax

Mar 02, 2018

Regressive is as regressive does

Luv ya, Josh, but I have yet to find a sales tax I’ll support and I’m not about to start next Tuesday. Any tax that takes a bigger chunk of your income the lower your income happens to be is inherently unfair. Now, if lower income folks received an offsetting tax credit, that’d be great, but that’s not the case. So, as always, I’m a “no” next week.

How Paul Pate is spinning county auditors on his voter ID plan

Jan 26, 2017

This bill is a disaster waiting to happen

Secretary Pate has been touting this bill for weeks now, but still there’s no bill! He could have prefiled the bill like any state agency, but apparently didn’t do so. It sure is a moving target. In November Pate said Iowa had no voter fraud. In early January he touted fraud deterrence in promoting the bill. More recently he said it’s intent is to streamline the process. But some things seem clear. First, voters will have to bring some form of ID to vote a regular ballot. Lack of an Iowa driver’s license, passport, or the new voter ID card he keeps talking about leaves two alternatives – fill out a provisional ballot or go home without having voted. There is no doubt this will confuse voters and deter some from even coming to the polls. Of course, provisional ballots aren’t counted election night and may not be accepted.

Pate also implies he will be mailing out his new voter ID cards to voters who lack Iowa driver’s licenses and that they’ll come unsolicited. Now this would be a recipe for fraud. We all know that voter registration records are not always up to date. Imagine tens of thousands of these cards being mailed to folks who aren’t expecting them (and, thus, may toss them when they arrive) or who are not the intended recipients. This will not be your grandfather’s voter card – this one will be a “ticket to vote.” Finally, the negative impact on college students of what Pate has discussed is apparent.

Yes, House and Senate Republicans will likely take Pate’s bill (should it ever appear) and make it worse. But what he has apparently intended is bad enough on its own. Let’s all keep our eyes pealed for the bill. I’m watching every day.

Shorter Paul Pate: Iowa elections clean, but let’s make it harder for people to vote

Jan 05, 2017

Truly a solution in search of a problem

Secretary Pate received kudos for vouching for the integrity of Iowa’s voting process in response to Trump’s voter fraud claims during the fall election. But today’s action reveals his true colors. His proposal represents extreme partisanship, through and through.

In my years working to protect consumers in the Attorney General’s Office, legislators demanded evidence supporting the need for our legislative proposals. They were right to do so. Today Mr. Pate offered nothing in support of his legislation other than national polling showing the supposed popularity of photo ID voter requirements. I am sure there are a lot of popular ideas the Legislature could consider in any given session, but that doesn’t mean they are good ideas or worthy of enactment. Rather, proposed legislation should have to pass a cost-benefit analysis. If costs exceed benefits, the legislation should probably fail.

Since voter fraud is virtually non-existent in Iowa, any potential benefits of Pate’s proposal are minor. But the costs would be extreme. A whole new bureaucratic process would have to be put in place at taxpayer expense to handle the demand for non-driver license photo ID’s and checking them at voting sites. Having to analyze signatures on absentee ballots would impose a further unnecessary expense. If Pate’s bill passes, taxpayers will be on the hook. But the costs of this proposal can’t just be measured in dollars. As has happened in other states who enacted voter photo ID laws, many Iowa voters will effectively lose their most fundamental right as Americans – the right to vote. Big cost and lost rights versus a virtually nonexistent benefit. It seems Mr. Pate has flunked not only his civics class, but basic math!

We have problems that our Legislature needs to address. Voter fraud is not a problem in Iowa. This bill deserves a quick trip to the recycling bin!

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