Iowa lawmakers pass another unconstitutional "Ag Gag" bill

Iowa legislators just can’t quit violating the constitution in the service of livestock farmers and their lobby groups.

Two months after a federal judge comprehensively dismantled Iowa’s 2012 law prohibiting “agricultural production facility fraud,” the state House and Senate approved a bill creating the crime of “agricultural production facility trespass.” Governor Kim Reynolds has indicated she will sign the legislation. (UPDATE: She signed it on March 14.)

Although the drafters modeled the new bill after portions of an Idaho statute that survived a legal challenge, federal courts could and should strike down this law. Like the previous “ag gag” legislation, its primary purpose is to suppress speech reflecting certain viewpoints.

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Action Alert: Voucher bill in the Iowa Senate (updated)

State Senator Claire Celsi sounds the alarm about the latest attempt to divert public school funding to private schools and homeschooling families. -promoted by Laura Belin

Every year, like clockwork, a dangerous and ruinous private school voucher bill comes up in the House or Senate. In 2018, the bill made it to a House subcommittee, but was never brought to the full committee because it didn’t have the votes. State Representative Walt Rogers, who brought the bill forward last year, was not re-elected.

This year, the Iowa Senate is emboldened to pass this legislation, Senate File 372. Monday, March 4 will be the big test of whether Republicans are serious about moving it forward. The meeting will be held in the Iowa Senate in room 22 at 2:00 p.m. Public comment is not allowed at this meeting, but people are encouraged to attend. Show up early and be prepared to stand for up to an hour. Wear your “Red for Ed” apparel.

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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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Key GOP lawmaker not interested in limiting state auditor's subpoena power

Republicans in Wisconsin and Michigan responded to recent election losses by limiting the powers of some Democratic statewide officials. GOP lawmakers are rumored to be considering similar legislation in Iowa, where Rob Sand just took office as the first Democrat to serve as state auditor in more than 50 years.

But Republican State Representative Bobby Kaufmann, who chairs the Iowa House State Government Committee, told Bleeding Heartland he has no interest in revoking or curtailing the subpoena power of Sand’s office.

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Part 3: How to corrupt the Iowa Senate

Third in a series by Tyler Higgs, an activist from Clive, Iowa. He previously explored how to corrupt a school district and how to corrupt the Iowa House. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Let’s say you are a state senator with strong political aspirations and no moral compass. You can rise to power quickly, if you play your cards correctly. State Senator Charles Schneider (Senate District 22) demonstrated how it pays to sell out your constituents:

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