Top ten tips for Governor Reynolds' new public relations staffer

Democratic State Senator Claire Celsi has extensive experience in the public relations field. -promoted by Laura Belin

As ranking member of the Iowa Senate’s Administration and Regulation Appropriations Subcommittee, I was supposed to be privy to budget requests from state agencies, including the governor’s office. Unfortunately, Governor Kim Reynolds refused our committee’s request to appear in person to explain why they were requesting a 10 percent increase in their budget while requesting a “status quo” budget from all other state departments.

Since our committee’s process was prematurely cut short by Committee Chair Representative John Landon, I attempted to go through staff back channels to find out what the $200,000 increase would be used for. I was told that Reynolds had requested the hiring of two analysts, one for tax policy and one for healthcare policy. I thought those were perfectly reasonable requests, since both areas have been so completely botched by Republicans in the past three years. But I still wondered why no one would come to our committee meeting to explain the request.

Now we have the answer. Turns out, the governor is planning to hire a “public relations manager.” I have some advice for the new staff member, based on my years of experience in public relations, brand management and communications. Some of my former clients were state agencies, so I know the demands they will be facing.

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Multilevel marketing moguls turned housing profiteers come to Iowa

Matt Chapman brings us up to date on a company’s plan to impose exorbitant rent hikes on him and his neighbors. -promoted by Laura Belin

When Havenpark Capital Partners bought up five manufactured housing parks in Iowa, they brought tension, anger and fear along for the ride. On a Friday afternoon before any of us knew they had bought our Waukee community, a notice was posted on all 300 doors in Midwest Country Estates that the rent was going up 69 percent in 60 days. Residents in the other four communities received similar notes.

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In bait and switch, Iowa governor hiring "public relations manager"

Governor Kim Reynolds asked for and received a nearly 10 percent budget increase for her office operations during the fiscal year beginning on July 1, with a view to hiring two additional full-time employees. Republican lawmakers told members of the Iowa House and Senate the extra funding was for analysts to focus on health policy and tax policy.

This week the governor’s office posted a new job listing on a state government website. Instead of seeking a health or tax policy analyst, the governor is hiring a full-time “public relations manager” to coordinate messaging about her initiatives.

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Affected Iowans, Kim Reynolds discuss policy targeting transgender people

Two transgender Iowans and an LGBTQ advocacy group are challenging the new statute intended to deprive transgender people of Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming surgery. The ACLU of Iowa filed suit in Polk County District Court on May 31 on behalf of Aiden Vasquez, Mika Covington, and One Iowa.

Listening to the plaintiffs explain why they took this step, I was struck by the contrast between their heartfelt, compelling words and Governor Kim Reynolds’ heartless, clueless excuses for signing discrimination into law.

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Reynolds, GOP killed way to reduce racial, economic disparities in Iowa courts

Governor Kim Reynolds made headlines last week with two vetoes: blocking language targeting the attorney general, and rejecting a medical cannabis bill that had strong bipartisan support in both chambers.

A provision she didn’t veto drew little attention. For the foreseeable future, it will prevent Iowa courts from using a tool designed to make the criminal justice system more fair to defendants of all races and income levels.

Reynolds should appreciate the value of the Public Safety Assessment (PSA), since she works closely with two former State Public Defenders: Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg and the governor’s senior legal counsel Sam Langholz. But last year she ordered a premature end to a pilot program introducing the tool in four counties. The governor’s staff did not reply to repeated inquiries about the reasoning behind Reynolds’ stance on this policy.

Notably, the owner of Iowa’s largest bail bonding company substantially increased his giving to GOP candidates during the last election cycle, donating $10,100 to the governor’s campaign and $28,050 to Republicans serving in the state legislature.

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Law denying Planned Parenthood sex ed funding on hold for now

A new state law denying sex education funding to Planned Parenthood will likely be found unconstitutional, a Polk County District Court has determined.

Judge Joseph Seidlin issued a temporary injunction to block new statutory restrictions on Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s access to government sex education grants. His order, enclosed in full below, found Planned Parenthood would suffer “irreparable harm” if the law took effect. State agencies are due to announce fiscal year 2020 recipients for the Community Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and Services Program (CAPP) and the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) on May 31.

In addition, the court’s order stated Planned Parenthood was “likely to succeed on the merits of its equal protection claim” under the Iowa Constitution, since the law contains an exemption for a “nonprofit health care delivery system” that provides abortions in some locations.

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