Reynolds, GOP killed way to reduce racial, economic disparities in Iowa courts

Governor Kim Reynolds made headlines last week with two vetoes: blocking language targeting the attorney general, and rejecting a medical cannabis bill that had strong bipartisan support in both chambers.

A provision she didn’t veto drew little attention. For the foreseeable future, it will prevent Iowa courts from using a tool designed to make the criminal justice system more fair to defendants of all races and income levels.

Reynolds should appreciate the value of the Public Safety Assessment (PSA), since she works closely with two former State Public Defenders: Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg and the governor’s senior legal counsel Sam Langholz. But last year she ordered a premature end to a pilot program introducing the tool in four counties. The governor’s staff did not reply to repeated inquiries about the reasoning behind Reynolds’ stance on this policy.

Notably, the owner of Iowa’s largest bail bonding company substantially increased his giving to GOP candidates during the last election cycle, donating $10,100 to the governor’s campaign and $28,050 to Republicans serving in the state legislature.

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Democrats face tougher path in two crucial Iowa Senate races

Prospects for Democrats to gain ground in the Iowa Senate took a sharp turn for the worse over the past week. The party’s best pickup opportunity became a more difficult race when GOP incumbent Rick Bertrand unexpectedly decided to seek a third term after all. Meanwhile, Republicans landed their strongest possible candidate for a Democratic-held seat now open because of Senator Chaz Allen’s unexpected retirement.

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Where Iowa's statewide candidates stand financially before primary

Many Iowa candidates filed their last financial disclosures before the June 5 primary on Friday. Those reports were required for anyone running for governor who raised $10,000 or more between May 15 and 29, for those seeking other statewide offices who raised at least $5,000 during the same time frame, and for state legislative candidates who raised at least $1,000.

Follow me after the jump for highlights on fundraising and spending by all the Democratic and Republican Iowa candidates for governor, state auditor, secretary of state, secretary of agriculture, attorney general, and state treasurer. Bleeding Heartland discussed the previous financial reports on the governor’s race here. Those covered campaign activity from January 1 through May 14.

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We must do better

John Grieder is a Democratic activist in Waterloo. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Like so many Iowa Democrats, I have watched this gubernatorial primary with a keen eye. With Terry Branstad leaving Terrace Hill for China and Governor Kim Reynolds continuing the same failed policies, 2018 seemed like the year of hope for turning the governor’s mansion back to blue. I’ve watched and heard and hoped with most of the candidates, flitting from one to another. I fully admit that I have been fickle and changed my mind more than once.

Even now, my absentee ballot sits upon our counter unfilled. So many thoughts, hopes, and fears play out when I look upon that ballot that I have to leave it blank for now, because I do not as yet know the path forward.

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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 little 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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