Political bandwidth

Paul Deaton: “It’s easy to say we should balance our politics and policy. I’m not sure about that. A better approach is to recognize there is political bandwidth and tune in.” -promoted by Laura Belin

The 2020 general election will be challenging for a lot of reasons, not the least of which for me is deciding whether policy or politics is the most important part of it.

Politics is the art of what’s possible. I’m over the naive notion that policy matters more than politics, although the art of what’s possible has produced some problems.

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Did Iowa House Republicans commit to nonpartisan map in 2021?

As bad-faith political arguments go, it would be hard to top a headline from a recent Iowa House Republican newsletter, amplified on Twitter: “Congressional Democrats Plan to Overturn Nonpartisan Redistricting in Iowa.”

U.S. House Resolution 1 was designed to ban gerrymandering nationwide “by requiring independent commissions instead of state legislatures to draw congressional maps.” But in the Iowa GOP’s fun-house-mirror view, the federal bill would “inject politics into an already nonpartisan redistricting process.”

The good news is, this stunt puts House Republicans on record opposing any change to the system in use since the 1980s. “There’s no reason to change a process in Iowa that is respected throughout the country and is working well,” the newsletter argues.

The next step is getting top lawmakers and Governor Kim Reynolds to promise not to exploit a little-known provision in state law to enact a gerrymander in 2021.

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Policy vs impact and the fig leaf of semantics

Matt Chapman: Lobbyists tend to disassociate advocating for a bill from the impact of that legislation. I couldn’t disagree more. -promoted by Laura Belin

Spending over two years at the Iowa legislature, watching committee meetings and floor action, I’ve picked up on the theme of decorum. It is necessary when powerful people of different ideology need to come to a consensus. There are times when that divide is too great and the decorum deteriorates. That is usually centered around hot-button topics.

President Ronald Reagan and then House Speaker Tip O’Neill had the six-o-clock rule. It was a designed to put partisan politics aside at the end of the day. They were bitter enemies, yet kept decorum and treated each other as equals. After six o’ clock, policy discussion was ended. They recognized that allowing each other to voice their position was the bedrock of this democracy.

In more recent history, when the debates are over, the debaters tend to go to their own corners.

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On acknowledging victims as we reform felon voting restrictions

Matt Chapman reports from the first legislative hearing on a constitutional amendment to change Iowa’s felon disenfranchisement system. -promoted by Laura Belin

Despite record low temperatures outside, the room was packed for the January 31 Iowa House Judiciary subcommittee meeting to consider House Study Bill 68, a constitutional amendment proposed by Governor Kim Reynolds.

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Representative Bobby Kaufmann lives in a glass House

A GOP lawmaker’s outrage rings hollow when we’ve repeatedly seen Iowa Republicans push policies they never campaigned on. -promoted by Laura Belin

On the Iowa House State Government Committee’s agenda for January 22, a presentation by Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS) CEO Donna Mueller and a special announcement by the committee’s Republican chair Bobby Kaufmann was scheduled for 11:00 am.

Kaufmann had stated at a forum in December, “There will be zero IPERS bills, period. End of story. End of discussion. No tweaks, no changes.” James Q. Lynch from the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported that Kaufmann also plainly stated in his newsletter, “I said it before the election and I will say it again: There will unequivocally not be changes to IPERS.”

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Who's who in the Iowa House for 2019

The Iowa House opened its 2019 session today with 54 Republicans and 46 Democrats. State Representative Michael Bergan was sworn in for a second term, even though his Democratic opponent Kayla Koether is contesting the outcome. A special committee will consider her complaint in the coming weeks.

The new state representatives include 66 men and 34 women (24 Democrats and ten Republicans, record numbers for both parties).

Four African Americans (Democrats Ako Abdul-Samad, Ruth Ann Gaines, Ras Smith, and Phyllis Thede) will serve in the legislature’s lower chamber; the other 96 lawmakers are white. No Latino has ever been elected to the Iowa House, and there has not been an Asian-American member since Swati Dandekar moved up to the state Senate following the 2008 election. Democratic State Representative Liz Bennett is the only out LGBTQ member of the lower chamber. To my knowledge, Abdul-Samad (who is Muslim) is the only lawmaker in either chamber to practice a religion other than Christianity.

After the jump I’ve posted details on the Iowa House majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing House committees. Where relevant, I’ve noted significant changes since last year.

Some non-political trivia: the Iowa House includes two Smiths (both Democrats), while the other 98 members have different surnames. As for popular first names, there are six Davids (four go by Dave), four Marys (one goes by Mary Ann), three Roberts (a Rob, a Bob, and a Bobby), three men named Thomas (two go by Tom), three Johns and two Jons, and three men each named Gary and Brian. There are also two Elizabeths (a Beth and a Liz) and two men each named Bruce, Chris, Jeff, Michael (one goes by Mike), and Charles (a Chuck and a Charlie).

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