Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2019

The Iowa Senate convened for its 2019 session on January 14 with 32 Republicans and 18 Democrats. A record eleven senators are women (six Democrats and five Republicans), up from six women in the chamber at the start of the last legislature’s work.

I enclose below details on the majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing Iowa Senate committees. Where relevant, I’ve mentioned changes since last year’s legislative session. Note that Democratic Senator Nate Boulton will serve on committees after all. Minority Leader Janet Petersen had declined to assign him to any committees last month.

A few words about demographics: all current state senators are white. To my knowledge, the only African American ever to serve in the Iowa Senate was Tom Mann, elected to two terms during the 1980s. No Latino has ever served in the Iowa legislature; in 2014, Nathan Blake fell 18 votes short of becoming the first. No Asian American has served in the Iowa Senate since Swati Dandekar resigned in 2011.

Some non-political trivia: the 50 Iowa senators include two Smiths (a Democrat and a Republican) and two Taylors (both Democrats). As for first names, there are three Marks, three Zachs, and two men each named Dan, Jim, Tim, Tom, and Jeff.

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Nate Boulton now subject of Iowa Senate ethics complaint

The Iowa Senate Ethics Committee has received a formal complaint from Sharon Wegner regarding alleged sexual misconduct by Nate Boulton before he was elected to the legislature, Brianne Pfannenstiel reported for the Des Moines Register on November 19. It’s unclear whether the complaint will lead to a broader investigation of Boulton, who has ignored calls from some leaders of his caucus to resign.

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Iowa Republicans left many Democratic lawmakers unchallenged

The Republican Party is not fielding a candidate in more than two dozen Democratic-controlled Iowa House or Senate districts, while Democrats have left only seven GOP-held legislative seats uncontested. The disparity in party strategies is a departure from the last midterm election, when each party failed to nominate a candidate in more than two dozen state House districts alone.

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The "dignity of work" and one's worth

Eric Donat is a Democratic activist, volunteer, and disability advocate from Waterloo. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I once worked at Goodwill of Northeast Iowa. I was paid $0.06 (6 cents) per hour minus meals. For one week of working there I was paid $3.24 – and went out and purchased an ice cream cone.

Prisoners are paid 25 to 50 cents per hour for their work and duties inside prison. Therefore, they are “worth more” and are “more valuable” than me while I was being paid 6 cents per hour when I worked at Goodwill.

For Republicans who go on about the “dignity of work”: for me, there was no dignity in “working”- in the back room sorting ţhings, while being bullied, emotionally abused, and shamed.

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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 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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