How to create activist judges

September Lau and Kimberly Graham make the case against a Republican effort to pack Iowa courts with conservatives. -promoted by Laura Belin

Ever since the 2009 Iowa Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, conservative groups and legislators have attempted to reign in what they describe as an “activist” court. Never mind that that opinion, Varnum v. Brien, was a deliberate and thoughtful walk through equal protection analysis. Conservatives simply didn’t like the decision because it wasn’t the result they wanted.

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New bill is "clear attempt by MidAmerican to monopolize the sun in Iowa"

A new bill backed by MidAmerican Energy would devastate the ability of Iowans to install solar panels for their homes or businesses. House Study Bill 185 would undo a longstanding policy of net metering, which “allows residential and commercial customers who generate their own electricity from solar power to feed electricity they do not use back into the grid.”

Iowans served by monopoly providers MidAmerican or Alliant Energy have been able to use net metering since the 1980s, under rules adopted by the Iowa Utilities Board.

In recent years, MidAmerican has periodically sought to subvert net metering in various ways. Environmental advocates have been concerned the policy would become the next target for Republican lawmakers who destroyed Iowa’s decades-old, successful energy-efficiency programs last year at the behest of utility companies.

State Representative Gary Carlson introduced House Study Bill 185 this morning in his capacity as leader of the Iowa House Commerce Committee. MidAmerican’s lobbyist immediately registered in favor–often a sign that an interest group or company had a hand in writing legislation. The utility’s media relations staff did not respond to an inquiry about why the company is pushing this bill.

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Five Senate bills target Iowans on public assistance

Matt Chapman has attended Iowa House and Senate subcommittee meetings nearly every day. These bills were among the most significant he has tracked lately. -promoted by Laura Belin

Over the past week, Iowa Senate subcommittees considered five bills drafted to address fraud in Iowa public assistance programs. Each bill would direct revenue generated by Iowa taxpayers to private vendors, who are charged with finding fraudulent claims. If investigation supports the claims of fraud, those funds could be recovered, and criminal charges filed.

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Iowa Senate broadens ethics code, but not transparency rules

Iowa state senators have amended their chamber’s ethics code following a high-profile complaint against Democratic Senator Nate Boulton, which was dismissed late last year.

The new language cover actions occurring outside the capitol building and allows citizens to file a complaint more than three years after an incident. However, the updated code would still lead to dismissal of a complaint like Sharon Wegner’s allegations against Boulton.

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Protecting Iowa's courts

Connie Ryan on the current Republican effort to pack the courts: “Iowans understand this legislation is intended to advance the specific political agenda of a small group with a loud voice, placing our courts in harm’s way.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Interfaith Alliance of Iowa jumped into the business of protecting Iowa’s fair and impartial courts upon the announcement by the religious right in the summer of 2010 that they intended to unseat three highly qualified Supreme Court justices. They were politicizing the retention elections simply because they were mad the court ruled for the marriage rights of same-sex couples based on equal protections under our constitution.

The thought of a special interest group seeking revenge on our courts for a constitutionally-based and unanimous decision was unprecedented and frightening. Iowans wondered if this was where the division in our country was really taking us? Would extremist, special interest groups actually go after highly qualified justices committed to the constitution and the rule of law as retribution? The answer was yes.

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The intersection of anti-choice warriors and misogyny

Matt Chapman: “The need to control women is what this is about, and the rage stems from a perception of impotency, caused by that lack of control.” -promoted by Laura Belin

It was impossible to miss the sea of white the Democratic women of the U.S. House wore to the State of the Union address on Tuesday. It was a nod to the suffragettes, who paved the way to winning the right to vote on August 26, 1920, and a celebration of the record-breaking diversity of the 116th United States Congress sworn in on January 23, 2019, almost one hundred years later.

Yet reminders of how far there still is to go echoed throughout the chamber. While President Donald Trump acknowledged the record-breaking number of women legislators elected, it took a moment for the modern-day suffragettes to stand and applaud. His praise was unwelcome, due to his history of misogyny.

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