# 2022 Session



Governor still playing musical chairs with employment board

For a second straight year, Governor Kim Reynolds has reappointed Erik Helland to Iowa’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) after Helland failed to win Iowa Senate confirmation. In an apparent effort to circumvent the legally required confirmation process, Reynolds appointed Helland to a different position on the three-member board, which adjudicates labor disputes within state and local government or school districts.

She used the same maneuver last summer to name Helland as PERB chair after the Iowa Senate did not confirm him during the 2021 legislative session.

The governor has not filled the now-vacant position of PERB chair, saying in a recent letter to the top Iowa Senate staffer that her administration “has initiated, but has not yet completed, the selection process.” That leaves the board with no quorum; Reynolds has kept one position unfilled since August 2020.

The long-running vacancy allows the governor’s preferred nominees to remain on the board, even if they don’t receive a two-thirds confirmation vote in the state Senate. Asked for comment on Helland’s reappointment, the Democratic senators who reviewed the PERB nominees accused the governor of “a partisan power grab” and “rigging the appointment process so she can get her way.”

Reynolds’ spokesperson Alex Murphy did not respond to eight inquiries about the PERB appointments between late May and July 28.

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School "transparency" is a cruel hoax

Gerald Ott of Ankeny was a high school English teacher, and for 30 years he was a school improvement consultant for the Iowa State Education Association.

The Kansas City Star’s editorial board warned its readers on June 2 that “the arch conservative Liberty Alliance has created a Woke Heat Map.” The website is an interactive map of Missouri with dots representing “hot spots” where, as the Alliance claims, “the Woke Agenda … is permeating.” 

The Alliance is a faction of ultra-right zealots who use a website to undermine democracy—and raise money from an easily duped clientele. The Springfield (MO) News-Leader reports one hotspot in its area, and six in St. Louis, three in Kansas City, and one in Columbia with alleged “woke agendas” — “where toddlers are groomed with sexually explicit books.” This was in the first week.

It’s fraud. In nearly all cases, the New-Leader says, the documentation used to designate a “woke” hotspot is based on a tweet, column, or article from a conservative leader or platform.

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2022 session: Iowa Republicans put politics over people


Matt Sinovic is the Executive Director of Progress Iowa, a multi-issue progressive advocacy organization.

No matter what we look like or where we live, Iowans want similar things. We want to make a good living, care for our families, and feel safe and connected to our communities.

But thanks to the policies of Iowa Republicans, that hasn’t been easy. The things that cost and matter the most—a roof over our heads, childcare for our kids, health care for our families—have long been put out of reach so wealthy corporations and billionaires can pay us less than they owe and rake in record profits.

And once again, Corporate Kim Reynolds and the Republican-led legislature have failed Iowans. As we watched the rest of America get back to work and begin to thrive, Governor Reynolds and GOP lawmakers spent the 2022 legislative session attacking working families, bullying kids, and targeting our public schools and educators. 

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Public school advocates need to be single-issue voters

Bruce Lear: As Iowa’s education foundation crumbles, public school supporters need to be as persistent and passionate as the governor. 

It’s no secret single-issue voters are loud, proud, and powerful. They fuel campaigns with rhetoric and resources. When choosing candidates, they focus on their long-term goals and don’t demand perfection over what’s possible.  

That’s how America woke up to find Donald Trump elected president. Thanks to three U.S. Supreme Court justices he appointed, the court is poised to ignore 49 years of precedent by turning back the clock to when women had few rights, slavery was commonplace, and only land-owning, white, males counted.

Throughout my professional career, I’ve heard educators say, “Yes, public education is important, but it’s not the only issue.”  

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Iowa Republicans fund anti-abortion clinics but not proven maternal health solutions

Iowa’s health and human services budget for the coming fiscal year includes a $500,000 appropriation for a new “maternal health” initiative modeled on an ineffective, wasteful Texas program.

But the bill, negotiated by House and Senate Republicans and approved on party-line votes in both chambers May 23, does not extend postpartum coverage for Iowans on Medicaid, a documented way to reduce maternal mortality.

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Six terrible bills Iowa Republicans didn't pass in 2022

After a hectic two days at the capitol, the Iowa House and Senate finished their work for the year shortly after midnight on May 25.

In the coming days, Bleeding Heartland will cover some of the final bills in detail. As usual, there were a few surprises in the “standings” bill, such as a provision expanding open enrollment from public schools. While Democrats opposed many bills sent to Governor Kim Reynolds this week, including a ban on COVID-19 vaccine requirements for schools or child care centers, they welcomed one of the last-minute proposals, which exempts diapers and period products from Iowa’s sales tax.

This piece will focus on bills that didn’t make it through, despite a push from Reynolds or top Republican lawmakers.

I anticipate future legislative battles over most if not all of these proposals. Earlier this year, the governor signed into law two priority items that failed to advance in 2021: a measure banning transgender Iowans from girls’ and women’s sports, and deep cuts to unemployment benefits.

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