# 2023 Session

New Iowa law complicates Libertarian plans for 2024 caucuses

Joseph Howe is a political strategist and former Libertarian Party of Iowa state chair with experience working on campaigns as a state director such as Gary Johnson 2016 as well as campaign director for Rick Stewart 2022 and Jake Porter 2018. He also served as the Polk County co-chair for Rand Paul’s campaign in 2016. In addition to his political work, Joseph is a financial services operations manager and resides in Beaverdale with his wife Amanda and son John.

Last week, Governor Kim Reynolds signed legislation that will not only impact the Iowa Democratic Party’s caucus plans but also have ramifications for the Libertarian Party of Iowa (LPIA). Although House File 716 primarily targets Iowa Democrats due to the loss of first in the nation status, it raises concerns for Iowa Libertarians as well, as I discussed in a previous Bleeding Heartland post

While the final version of the bill did not include the initial requirement to register with your political party of choice 70 days before the caucus date, it did mandate in-person caucusing for major party presidential processes. The LPIA was the first major party to give options other than in-person caucusing via a hybrid online/county megasite strategy in 2018, a tradition that carried into 2020 and 2022.

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Educators, it's time to organize to save books

Bruce Lear lives in Sioux City and has been connected to Iowa’s public schools for 38 years. He taught for eleven years and represented educators as an Iowa State Education Association regional director for 27 years until retiring.

Book banning is nothing new for public schools. In the 1980s, I was teaching Lord of the Flies. One day, I took a call from a grandpa convinced I was ruining his granddaughter’s life by introducing her to characters like Piggy, Jack, and the gang. 

According to Grandpa, the book was porno about a bunch of boys stranded on an island who become savages.  I was happy—at least he understood the basic plot. 

But my happiness was short-lived when he called me “a dirty, commie liberal who shouldn’t be teaching.” I was 23 and didn’t know any communists, but knew I’d soon be fired.

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Iowa is better than this

Deb VanderGaast is a registered nurse and child care advocate seeking to advance state and national child care and disability policy, inclusive child care practices and improve access to quality, affordable child care for working parents. She was the 2022 Democratic nominee in Iowa Senate district 41.

Acting in private on Friday before a holiday weekend, Governor Kim Reynolds signed yet another anti-LGBTQ law Republicans passed during the 2023 legislative session.

This new law forces schools to out trans students, which puts those students’ lives and mental health at risk. It also removes a requirement for health classes to teach about HPV and HIV and bans all school library books and library materials with any sexual content, except religious texts. Not graphic content. Any sexual content.

The same bill, Senate File 496, prohibits any discussion of gender and sexual orientation in grades K-6. In addition, schools would need parental approval before they could give surveys to students related to numerous topics, including mental health issues, sex and political affiliation.

With this and other bills passed this year, Iowa Republicans stoked discrimination and hate, attacked vulnerable kids, and undermined public health.

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Iowa parents, wake up and save your schools!

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

The headline of the May 27 Bleeding Heartland post was jarring and depressing. 

When Laura Belin wrote, “Iowa schools may never recover from the 2023 legislative session,” she predicted a bleak future for Iowa and its youngsters. Devastatingly so, because these same youngsters, mostly public school students, will soon sit on school boards and in the Capitol chambers or governor’s office being charged with carrying forward the state’s business into the second half of the 21st century.

Initially, Laura takes her readers back to the glory days of Governor Robert Ray (in office 1969-1983) when refugees were welcomed and progressive legislation for public schools, students, and their teachers not only seemed possible, but actually passed. 

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Iowa schools may never recover from 2023 legislative session

Two Republican trifectas, 50 years apart, reshaped Iowa’s K-12 schools. But whereas the legislature and Governor Robert Ray put public education on a more equitable, better funded path during the early 1970s, this year’s legislative session left public schools underfunded and unable to meet the needs of many marginalized students.

Governor Kim Reynolds capped a devastating year for Iowa’s schools on May 26, when she signed seven education-related bills, including two that will impose many new restrictions while lowering standards for educators and curriculum.

In a written statement, Reynolds boasted, “This legislative session, we secured transformational education reform that puts parents in the driver’s seat, eliminates burdensome regulations on public schools, provides flexibility to raise teacher salaries, and empowers teachers to prepare our kids for their future. Education is the great equalizer and everyone involved—parents, educators, our children—deserves an environment where they can thrive.” 

Almost every part of the first sentence is false or misleading.

As for the second sentence, this year’s policies make it less likely that any of the named groups will thrive, aside from a small subset of parents who share the governor’s political and religious outlook.

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Luana Stoltenberg's first legislative session in review

Alexandra Dermody is a Davenport based Gen Z activist, nonprofit director, and small business owner who lives in Iowa House district 81.

Luana Stoltenberg, a Republican who traveled to Washington, DC for Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6, 2021, has completed her first legislative session as the representative for House District 81.

While she presents herself as a pro-life activist and author, it is essential to examine her legislative record and consider the implications of her key votes and sponsored bills.

Let’s take a closer look at Stoltenberg’s voting history:

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