Laura Belin

Ashley Hinson didn't walk her talk on LGBTQ equality

“No person should be discriminated against, no person should be bullied because of who they are, and no person should be discriminated against in the workplace, for any reason,” Republican Congressional candidate Ashley Hinson told an eastern Iowa magazine geared toward LGBTQ readers last fall.

Hinson had a chance to put her stated beliefs into action on February 25, when the U.S. House considered the Equality Act. The bill would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the areas of employment, education, housing, public accommodations, jury service, and access to credit or federal funding. But the new member of Congress from Iowa’s first district voted against it, as did all but three House Republicans (roll call).

Representative Cindy Axne, the lone Democrat in Iowa’s Congressional delegation, co-sponsored the Equality Act and was part of the 224 to 206 majority that approved it.

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Iowa governor objects to "biased" federal COVID-19 funding formula

Governor Kim Reynolds and 21 of her Republican counterparts complained on February 27 that the latest Democratic COVID-19 relief package “punishes” their states.

It’s a strange take on a bill that would provide $350 billion to state and local governments across the country, including more than $2.5 billion to Iowa. In contrast, a smaller coronavirus response proposal from Republican members of Congress would allocate zero new dollars to state and local governments.

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Revised GOP election bill would exclude thousands more Iowa voters

On a party-line vote of 30 to 18, the Iowa Senate on February 23 approved Senate File 413, a new version of a bill that would restrict every aspect of the early voting process. The following day, the Iowa House approved the bill on a party-line 57 to 37 vote. Governor Kim Reynolds is expected to sign the bill; Republican Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley have each endorsed limits on early voting in recent days.

Although State Senator Roby Smith’s amendment addressed a few of the concerns raised by county auditors and advocates for vulnerable populations, the revised legislation would make it even harder for thousands of Iowans to have their absentee ballots counted. In a new twist, it shortens election-day voting hours as well.

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Iowa Republicans unveil assault on early voting

UPDATE: The Iowa Senate and House approved a revised version of this bill on February 23 and 24. Original post follows.

Republican-controlled states “are increasingly not ‘laboratories of democracy,’ but ‘laboratories of democratic backsliding,’” political scientist Jake Grumbach noted in a new article by Perry Bacon Jr. for FiveThirtyEight.com.

Look no further than the Iowa legislature, where House and Senate Republicans unveiled a wide-ranging election bill on February 16. The 37-page legislation would make it much harder for Iowans to obtain and cast absentee ballots, either using the mail or voting early in person.

While House Republicans worked with Democrats to remove many voter suppression provisions from election bills the Iowa Senate had approved in 2019 and 2020, House State Government Committee chair Bobby Kaufmann is now on board with every piece of this year’s attempt to make it harder for Iowans to vote.

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The politics of Ashley Hinson's balancing act in IA-01

Eighth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2020 state and federal elections.

During her first six weeks serving in the U.S. House, Representative Ashley Hinson has been speaking in two distinct voices.

In many public statements, she has positioned herself as a unifier within the House Republican caucus and Congress at large, willing to work with anyone for the benefit of her constituents. Meanwhile, she has regularly demonized Democrats as threats to America, especially when speaking to perceived supporters or on conservative platforms.

The dual messaging reflects Hinson’s dependence on Donald Trump’s base in a swing district where future Republican victories are not assured.

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