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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A close look at a proposed Iowa constitutional amendment

Marty Ryan is a nearly retired lobbyist after 27 Iowa legislative sessions. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Lawmakers have introduced a glut of proposed amendments to Iowa’s Constitution in the legislature this year. So far, only two have survived. House Joint Resolution 2009 would guarantee the right to bear arms. Both chambers would have to pass identical language during the Eighty-Eighth General Assembly (2019-2020) in order to put that amendment on the November 2020 ballot for Iowans to approve or disapprove.

The other proposal is Senate Joint Resolution 2006, which would change the procedure for who succeeds the governor in case of death, resignation, impeachment, or inability to carry out the duties of governor. It also redefines the procedure for accomplishing that transition.

Reading the legalese of the legislative document will have you bored to death, confused, or excited to solve it like a New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle.

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Why my conservative values make me vote for Democrats

A guest commentary by a committed activist who served on the Iowa Democratic Party Platform and Rules Committees and currently serves on a county central committee. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I believe in obeying the Constitution. The 14th Amendment says that debts of the USA shall not be questioned. Steve King–and most Republicans–voted to not raise the debt ceiling which would have put the government in default. That vote led to the downgrading of the government’s credit rating. The 14th amendment also guarantees equal protection under the law. But Republicans don’t think the Constitution applies to same sex couples who wish to marry. George W. Bush violated the constitutional rights of Americans by spying on them without a warrant. Democrats objected; Republicans didn’t. President Barack Obama nominated a replacement for the late Justice Scalia. Republicans senators refuse to do their duty and vote to confirm—or not—that nominee.

I don’t believe judges should legislate from the bench, but I do believe they must strike down laws that violate the Constitution. Republicans applauded the U.S. Supreme Court for striking down the Washington D.C. handgun law, but went nuts when the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously struck down the law banning gay marriage. Republicans agreed when activist justices on the U.S. Supreme Court created a new right for corporations to spend unlimited secret money to try to buy our elections with misleading TV ads; Democrats want that decision overturned.

Originalists, who claim that the Constitution must be interpreted as the Founding Fathers meant it, are contradicted by the Founding Fathers themselves.

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"Put your bodies upon the gears"

An essay inspired by a “legendary” moment for free speech activism. -promoted by desmoinesdem

There sure is a lot of talk lately about that venerable old document we call the “Constitution.”  There’s a lot of disagreement over how it is to be interpreted, and the intentions of the original Framers regarding language, but one thing everyone seems to agree on:  No one is getting it right…except for ourselves, of course, whenever we want to use it to enforce our views.

Our Constitution is the supreme law of the United States and defines the rules and separation of powers by which the three branches of federal government will operate.  It is the charter that outlines how our government is to work.

Within the Constitution is Article 5 which defines the Amendment Clause; the process by which the Constitution can be changed.  The first 10 Amendments are known as the Bill of Rights, however, 17 more have been added since.  This was created because the Framers, collectively visionary, knew that the world and their young country would change.

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Tom or Ted? You Decide

Gary Kroeger looks at the proposed “First Amendment Defense Act,” which “may very well be the most frightening oxymoron of all time.” -promoted by desmoinesdem

What does it mean to be free in America? I believe it means that in the United States of America, no citizen will be denied services, opportunities, benefits, goods, transactions, acquisitions, access or mobility on the basis of their race, creed (religion), color, or gender. In fact, if there were distinctions to determine the extent of such rights, based on any physical or spiritual difference, then “American Freedom” would become meaningless.

This is not a state to state issue, either. There cannot be one definition for the qualifications of civil rights in one state that differs from another. American citizens can pass freely with a full complement of rights and expect the full protection of federal law. How could that be argued?

Yet it is. It is in legislation that is being re-introduced by Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. And with a supportive Republican Congress and the blessings of President Trump, the First Amendment Defense Act could pass.

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Steve King's unconstitutional Obamacare bill getting national ridicule

For a self-style “constitutional conservative,” Representative Steve King has a lot of trouble with the separation of powers concept. In the past, King has tried to block federal courts from hearing cases related to marriage rights and encouraged state governments to disregard the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling.

King went one step further this week by introducing a bill to prohibit the Supreme Court from citing its previous cases involving the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Legal experts agree King’s proposal is itself unconstitutional.

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