# Commentary



How Iowa Democrats could have saved the caucuses

Anyone who was paying attention has seen this day coming for years.

The Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee voted on December 2 for a new presidential nominating calendar, leaving Iowa out of the coveted early group. Though the Iowa Democratic Party will hold precinct caucuses in early 2024, as state law requires, we will no longer have presidential candidates campaigning around the state.

Some activists are already focused on adapting to life without being first-in-the-nation. I applaud their pragmatic mindset and welcome guest commentaries about how to rebuild the party without the money and national media spotlight we have enjoyed during presidential campaigns for decades.

But first, let’s acknowledge what some Democrats gloss over as they fondly recall the good times or grouse about President Joe Biden’s “complete kick in the teeth.”

Iowa Democratic leaders might have avoided this outcome if they had addressed problems with the caucus system a long time ago.

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Iowa Democrats, we have an opportunity!

Jackie Norris is a community leader and small business owner. She once served as the assistant to President Barack Obama and White House chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama and worked in leadership roles on the Gore and Obama Iowa campaigns

Dear Iowa Democrats,

I’m an eternal optimist and choose to focus on what’s next.

We have an opportunity.

Let’s focus on what we can control – our own state’s future.

Let’s hold on to the qualities we loved so dearly about the Iowa caucuses and apply them to help elect Democrats across our state.

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Corporations exploit CO2 pipeline regulatory gaps in tax credit gold rush

Carolyn Raffensperger is the executive director of the Science & Environmental Health Network. Sheri Deal-Tyne is a researcher for the Science & Environmental Health Network.

A contentious battle wages in the Midwest, Gulf states, and California over Carbon Capture and Storage and siting of CO2 pipelines. One key issue in the battle: the federal pipeline regulatory agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), does not have regulations in place that can assure the safety of these extraordinarily dangerous pipelines. PHMSA itself acknowledges that CO2 pipelines are underregulated, and the agency currently lacks the technical knowledge required to inform minimum safety standards.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which Congress approved and President Joe Biden signed in August, is driving the rush to site these pipelines. That law unleashed a gold rush in 45Q tax credits for carbon capture and storage, and the thousands upon thousands of miles of CO2 pipelines, which would be required to transport the CO2 away from facilities where the CO2 is captured to the disposal or usage sites in distant states.

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Iowans join Congress, Biden in forcing bad contract on rail workers

Every member of Congress from Iowa voted this week to force a five-year contract on the freight rail industry, as President Joe Biden had requested to avert a possible strike on December 9. It was the first time since the 1990s that Congress exercised its power to intervene in national rail disputes.

Four unions representing tens of thousands of rail workers had rejected the tentative agreement, which U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh helped negotiate in September. The main sticking point was the lack of paid sick leave. Instead,

The deal gave workers a 24% raise over five years, an additional personal day and caps on health care costs. It also includes some modifications to the railroads’ strict attendance policies, allowing workers to attend to medical needs without facing penalties for missing work.

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Good people making bad gun decisions

Bruce Lear lives in Sioux City and has been connected to public schools for 38 years. He taught for eleven years and represented educators as an Iowa State Education Association Regional Director for 27 years until retiring.

Educators need quite a few things. They need unlimited paper, markers, books, pens, glue, multicolored construction paper, and high-speed internet. They also need more school funding, freedom to teach, more preparation time, more respect, more salary, better benefits, and smaller classes. 

But they don’t need guns.

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Joni Ernst chooses right side of history

Iowa’s U.S. Senator Joni Ernst was among twelve Republicans who helped Democrats pass the Respect for Marriage Act on November 29. Her vote reflected both a personal evolution and a smart political calculation.

The bill would repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which banned same-sex marriages when it was enacted in 1996. It would also “require the federal government to recognize a marriage between two individuals if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed.” Finally, although the bill would not require states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, it would require states to give marriages performed elsewhere “full faith and credit, regardless of the couple’s sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”

Senate rules require at least 60 votes to overcome a filibuster by the minority party, and the vote on final passage was 61-36 (roll call). Iowa’s Senator Chuck Grassley was one of the 36 Republicans who opposed the bill.

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