Bruce Lear

Attacks on Iowa public education lurk in House-approved budget bill

Most parents know that a car trip lasting too long makes kids mad and mean. With not much to do, they pick on each other and the picking becomes a full-blown fight. The adult goal is to end the trip and the fight as fast as possible. 

Like the too long car trip, the 2021 session of the Iowa legislature has devolved into mad and mean. It’s time for them to end the ride and go home. 

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Iowa can lead the way

Bruce Lear: A bipartisan policing reform law enacted last year was supposed to be a start. As it turned out, that bill was also the the end. -promoted by Laura Belin

When a police officer pulls me over for a traffic stop, I don’t think death sentence. I think where is my registration and insurance card, and what did I do now?

That’s white privilege, and that’s not how any of this should work.

I know it’s possible to honor and respect the police, and still be horrified when unarmed person of color is murdered by a police officer, often on video, and then the officer is exonerated by internal investigation or by the courts.

I also know there is a middle ground between the “Defund the police” crowd and those who know we need strong, fair, well trained, law enforcement not required to play the role of social worker or psychologist. 

Something has to change in this country. Iowa lawmakers took a first step in 2020, but didn’t follow through this year.

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It's as bad as the voucher bill

Bruce Lear identifies problems with a charter school bill Iowa House Republicans passed on March 24. -promoted by Laura Belin

When I was a teenager, my Mom told me, “Nothing good happens after midnight.” I didn’t believe it then, but I do now. It’s especially true when the majority party tries to sneak a bad bill through the Iowa House after midnight.

That’s exactly what happened when Republicans passed House File 813, an effort to promote charter schools, with no public hearing and little public notice. This bill would change how a charter school may be started in Iowa by keeping the provision in current law allowing application to a local school board, but expanding that application process so the “founding group” may bypass the local school board and go directly to the Iowa Department of Education.

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It's all about censorship

Bruce Lear covers a bill that didn’t get much attention this week. -promoted by Laura Belin

Here is a good rule of thumb. If a state legislature tries to fool around with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it never ends well.  After all, the First Amendment is pretty clear and if there is ambiguity, we have courts to interpret.

But in their never-ending quest to break what isn’t broken, majority Republicans pushed Senate File 478 through the Iowa Senate. This bill masquerades as a free speech, but it actually penalizes professors and teachers who exercise a freedom we hold sacred.  

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It's hard to believe this legislative session is real

Bruce Lear covers some low points of this year’s Republican work in the Iowa House and Senate. -promoted by Laura Belin

Even though this Iowa legislative session may seem like a sketch from Saturday Night Live, it’s real.

But if it had a theme, it might be “Solutions in search of a problem,” or maybe “If it ain’t broke, fix it anyway.”

In a legislative session this extreme, it’s really hard to focus on specific bills solving nonexistent problems, not because they are hard to find, but because there are so many.

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The deadly Trump sting

Bruce Lear: Donald Trump has already stung the GOP. But unlike the animals in a well-known fable, Republicans haven’t learned, “It’s just his nature.” -promoted by Laura Belin

As the Republican Party struggles with how to handle Donald Trump in his post-presidency, it may do well to remember the fable of the scorpion and the frog.

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