The 2007 votes that made 2019 a historic year for transgender Iowans

Only three months in, 2019 is already the most significant year for transgender equality in Iowa since 2007, when state lawmakers and Governor Chet Culver added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes in the Iowa Civil Rights Act. That 1965 law hadn’t been significantly amended in decades.

The crucial Iowa House and Senate votes on the civil rights law happened during the first year since the 1960s that Democrats controlled both legislative chambers and the governor’s office. Support for LGBTQ equality is often taken for granted now in Democratic circles, but the issue was seen as more politically volatile twelve years ago. The bill amending the civil rights act came late in the 2007 legislative session and could not have passed without some Republican votes.

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Republicans are worried about Iowa Senate district 30, with good reason

Voters in Cedar Falls, Hudson, and part of Waterloo will elect a new state senator on March 19. Three candidates are on the ballot for Iowa Senate district 30: Republican Walt Rogers, Democrat Eric Giddens, and Libertarian Fred Perryman.

Republicans took some advantages into this campaign, which is on a shortened timetable because Senator Jeff Danielson resigned during the legislative session. Rogers was better-known than Giddens, and Governor Kim Reynolds scheduled the vote during spring break for the University of Northern Iowa and Cedar Falls public schools, when many people in Democratic-leaning constituencies would likely be out of town.

But since Bleeding Heartland previewed this race in late February, Giddens has emerged as the favorite. Republicans tacitly acknowledged their weaknesses by launching a second over-the-top negative television commercial on March 15, rather than closing on what was supposed to be Rogers’ selling point: giving Black Hawk County and UNI a voice in the Iowa Senate majority caucus.

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Steve King voted "present" on anti-bigotry resolution (updated)

Representative Steve King (IA-04) was the only member of the U.S. House to vote “present” on March 7, as the chamber passed a broad resolution condemning various forms of bigotry. Every Democrat, including Iowa Representatives Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), and Cindy Axne (IA-03) supported the measure, along with 173 Republicans (roll call). Another 23 Republicans voted no.

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U.S. House votes to preserve Iowa redistricting system

The U.S. House of Representatives amended a broad election reform bill today to exempt the state of Iowa from new rules on redistricting. Democratic Representative Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) offered the amendment, which House members adopted by voice vote. Her office said in a statement enclosed below that Finkenauer “worked tirelessly over several days to ensure the matter was addressed.”

Bleeding Heartland reported on March 4 that Iowa House Republicans were depicting H.R. 1 as an attempt by Congressional Democrats to “overturn nonpartisan redistricting in Iowa.” Finkenauer’s amendment stipulates that the bill’s section on independent redistricting commissions, which is designed to prevent gerrymandering elsewhere,

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Grassley, Ernst can show they're serious about executive overreach

The U.S. House voted on February 26 to terminate President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to build a wall that Congress repeatedly declined to authorize or fund. All 232 Democrats present, including Iowa’s Representatives Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), and Cindy Axne (IA-03) backed the resolution, joined by thirteen House Republicans (roll call). Representative Steve King (IA-04) was among 182 Republicans who opposed the joint resolution.

In statements enclosed in full below, Finkenauer, Axne, and Loebsack highlighted the need to defend the checks and balances prescribed by the U.S. Constitution, which grants spending power to Congress.

The National Emergencies Act requires a U.S. Senate vote within eighteen days on any House-approved joint resolution to terminate a presidential declaration. Three Senate Republicans have already pledged to vote for the resolution. More than half a dozen others criticized Trump’s decision and seem open to formally rejecting it.

Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst are not seen as potential supporters of this bipartisan effort. They have never defied the Trump administration and had little to say about the president’s power grab. But given their stature in the Republican caucus and their forceful denunciations of President Barack Obama’s executive actions, Iowa’s senators have an excellent opportunity to show some principles matter more to them than political loyalty.

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