Laura Belin

Iowa Democratic groups weigh doing business with Hy-Vee

News that Hy-Vee’s political action committee donated $25,000 to the Republican Party of Iowa shortly before a recent fundraiser featuring President Donald Trump is prompting some Iowa Democratic organizations to re-examine the business they give to the major grocery store chain.

Leaders of the West Des Moines Democrats decided to cancel a contract for Hy-Vee to cater an upcoming picnic that is one of the group’s biggest fundraisers.

Several members of the Polk County Democratic Central Committee raised concerns this week about plans for Hy-Vee to cater the group’s Steak Fry in September, which could attract thousands of caucus-goers.

Continue Reading...

Back to the drawing board for Republicans in IA-02

Osceola Mayor Thomas Kedley announced on June 22 that he will no longer seek the Republican nomination in Iowa’s second Congressional district. In a statement enclosed in full below, Kedley said after traveling the district in recent weeks, “I realized I wasn’t done yet in Osceola,” and “I feel like I can make the biggest impact at the local and state level.”

Though he was the only declared GOP candidate, Kedley was never likely to become the nominee in IA-02. He lacked name recognition, a base of support in a large county, or a track record with fundraising.

Continue Reading...

Iowa House district 46 election to happen before most ISU students return

For the second time this year, voters in a college town will elect a new Iowa lawmaker when most students are not on campus. Governor Kim Reynolds announced today that the special election in House district 46, covering part of Ames, will take place on Tuesday, August 6.

The College and Young Democrats of Iowa quickly denounced the decision: “Anyone else having some déjà vu with the timing of this special election? @KimReynoldsIA is once again denying students – many who will not be on campus until late Aug. – the chance to vote in the IA House district they heavily occupy.”

Whereas Reynolds clearly tried to suppress student and faculty voting by scheduling the Senate district 30 special election during the University of Northern Iowa’s spring break, the timing of the coming vote in Ames is arguably consistent with standard Iowa practice.

However, the governor could have and should have set the date a few weeks later, allowing greater participation by Iowa State University stakeholders.

Continue Reading...

Iowa Medicaid oversight chief to be governor's new health policy analyst

Elizabeth Matney, who has led the Iowa Medicaid Bureau of Managed Care since the state began privatizing nearly the whole program in 2015, is leaving the Department of Human Services to become Governor Kim Reynolds’ health policy advisor, Matney’s LinkedIn profile shows. Her starting date is unclear; the governor’s office has not announced Matney’s hiring or responded to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiries on the subject. A DHS organizational chart dated June 17 still shows Matney as bureau chief for MCO Oversight & Supports, the state’s leading official for overseeing the private companies picked to manage care for more than 600,000 Iowans on Medicaid.

When the new fiscal year begins on July 1, the governor’s office will receive additional funding for staff, so Matney’s work for Reynolds may formally begin at that time. The governor’s previous health policy advisor, Paige Thorson, appears to be staying on as deputy chief of staff, meaning that new funds would be needed to pay Matney (the governor’s staff have not clarified that point).

Continue Reading...

Iowa Regents didn't bargain in good faith with UNI faculty, UI grad students

The state broke Iowa law by refusing to negotiate in good faith when the Iowa Board of Regents delayed contract talks with unions representing University of Northern Iowa faculty and University of Iowa graduate students in late 2016 and early 2017, the Public Employee Relations Board determined in separate rulings last week.

Following the 2016 election, when it was clear Republicans would have total control of state government, United Faculty and the Campaign to Organize Graduate Students (COGS) attempted to negotiate new contracts for their members, following a bargaining schedule used in previous years.

But the governing body for Iowa’s state universities instructed its attorney not to engage in such talks until after GOP lawmakers and Governor Terry Branstad had eliminated most public employee bargaining rights under Iowa Code Chapter 20. Bruce Rastetter was the Regents president at the time. He didn’t seek reappointment by Branstad in 2017, as it was clear Iowa Senate Democrats would have blocked his confirmation.

Continue Reading...
View More...