Advocates ask Iowa SOS to allow Spanish-language voting materials

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) has petitioned the Iowa Secretary of State’s office to allow elections officials in all 99 counties to accept official Spanish-language translations of voter registration and absentee ballot request forms.

The Secretary of State’s office has not yet replied to the petition and did not respond to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiries about the matter. If it doesn’t issue the requested order within 60 days of the filing date (July 28), Iowa’s largest Latino advocacy group can go to court seeking an exception for voting materials from Iowa’s 2002 “English language reaffirmation” statute, more commonly known as the English-only law.

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Governor holds over agency directors Iowa Senate didn't confirm

In an unusual move, Governor Kim Reynolds is allowing two state agency directors she appointed early this year to continue serving through next year’s legislative session, even though they lacked the votes to be confirmed by the Iowa Senate.

Reynolds withdrew the nominations of Department of Management Director Michael Bousselot and Department of Administrative Services Director Adam Steen shortly before state lawmakers adjourned for the year in May. Days later, she rejected the directors’ resignations, saying she would resubmit their names to the Senate in 2022, documents obtained through public records requests show.

The governor’s office has not publicly announced Reynolds’ decision to hold over Bousselot and Steen and did not respond to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiries.

The Department of Management handles state budget planning as well as disbursements from Iowa’s general fund and various other funds. The Department of Administrative Services handles human resources, payroll, and procurement of goods and services for state government.

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Chet Culver to return to federal board

President Joe Biden appointed former Iowa Governor Chet Culver to the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation’s board of directors this week. Assuming Culver is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, it will be his second term on the Farmer Mac board. President Barack Obama named Culver to the board in 2011, and the Senate confirmed him by voice vote in March 2012. President Donald Trump removed Culver from the position in December 2019, replacing him with LaJuana Wilcher, the current board chair.

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Iowa Republicans have abandoned executive branch oversight

Governor Kim Reynolds has been lucky at key points in her political career. Terry Branstad passed over more experienced contenders to select her as his 2010 running mate, allowing a little-known first-term state senator to become a statewide elected official. Six years later, Donald Trump won the presidency and named Branstad as an ambassador, setting Reynolds up to become governor without having to win a GOP primary first.

Most important, Reynolds has enjoyed a Republican trifecta her entire four years as governor. Not only has she been able to sign much of her wish list into law, she has not needed to worry that state lawmakers would closely scrutinize her administration’s work or handling of public funds.

During the legislative session that wrapped up last month, the GOP-controlled House and Senate rejected every attempt to make the governor’s spending decisions more transparent. They declined to hold even one hearing about questionable uses of federal COVID-19 relief funds or practices at state agencies that disadvantaged thousands of Iowans.

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Minority impact statements in Iowa: History and continuing efforts

Marty Ryan of Des Moines lobbied the Iowa legislature for 27 years and now blogs weekly. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Iowa quarter, printed in the latter part of 2004, is based upon a Grant Wood painting depicting a group of students and their teacher planting a tree outside of a county school. The statement on the coin says, “Foundation In Education.” For many decades, Iowa was noted for its first-in-the-nation education status. Likewise, Iowa has been a consistent leader in civil rights.

In fact, Iowa established some standards of equality long before the federal government or other states.

But racial disparities continue to affect Iowans in many areas of life. A reform the Democratic-controlled legislature enacted more than a decade ago has only slightly mitigated the problem.

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Chet Culver to Kim Reynolds: Have Test Iowa contract independently audited

James C. Larew is an attorney in Iowa City who served as general counsel and chief of staff for former Governor Chet Culver. -promoted by Laura Belin

Former Governor Chet Culver wrote to Governor Kim Reynolds on May 7, urging her to have an immediate and comprehensive performance audit conducted of Nomi Health’s COVID-19 testing services in Iowa. The Utah-based company is providing testing at drive-through sites under a $26 million no-bid contract with the state. 

Culver suggested that Reynolds ask State Auditor Rob Sand to perform such an audit, or order a comparable review by a competent and independent agency. His letter outlined serious problems already known to the public about the Test Iowa program. He warned that if not remedied immediately, by making Nomi Health’s performance fully compliant with all applicable federal and state laws, and with best pandemic practices, those difficulties will place the health of Iowans at great risk. The full text of the letter follows:

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