Iowa legislative recap: Constitutional amendments

Iowa lawmakers went home for the year on May 5. In the coming weeks, Bleeding Heartland will catch up on some of the legislature’s significant work that attracted relatively attention.

Two proposed state constitutional amendments passed both chambers and could appear on the 2020 general election ballot, if the House and Senate approve them in the same form during either 2019 or 2020.

Three other constitutional amendments cleared one chamber in 2017–in one case unanimously–then stalled in the other chamber as lawmakers completed this two-year session. Those ideas may resurface next year. But since changes to the state constitution must be passed by two consecutively elected legislatures before landing on the general election ballot (the last step in the process), Iowa voters would not be able to ratify those proposals until November 2022 at the earliest.

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Iowa House passes energy giveaway bill like sneak-thieves in the night

Last night’s highly irregular Iowa House proceedings inspired Matt Chapman’s latest commentary. The chamber’s rules do not normally permit debate past midnight, but Republicans approved an amended version of a terrible energy bill a little past 5 am. A forthcoming Bleeding Heartland post will discuss the substantive changes to the legislation, which goes back to the Iowa Senate. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Senate File 2311, the Aliant Energy/Mid-American omnibus energy bill, was trotted out in the Iowa House after a more than eight-hour caucus after 10:00 pm last night. Much like last year’s bill that busted the unions for 180,000 public employees, this cowardly approach of sneaking legislation through while working Iowans are sleeping seems to be on par with the GOP’s values.

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Fourteen Iowa House Democrats who seem content to stay in minority forever

Iowa Democrats are in a deep hole, controlling only 20 of the 50 seats in the state Senate and 41 of 100 in the House. On the plus side, strong candidate recruitment and a wave of Republican retirements are giving Democrats plenty of opportunities to pick up House seats. (The 2018 Iowa Senate map is less promising.)

Raising money can be challenging for leaders of a minority party, who don’t call the shots on legislation. Furthermore, Iowa Republicans have a natural advantage, since the policies they promote are often tailored to suit wealthy individuals or corporate interest groups. While money doesn’t always determine campaign outcomes, quite a few Democratic lawmakers and challengers lost in 2016 after being massively outspent on television commercials and direct mail (see here, here, and here for examples).

Yet the latest set of campaign financial disclosures reveal little sense of urgency among Democratic incumbents who could do much more to help others win competitive districts this November.

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