Iowans lose out to industrial ag in 2020 legislative session

Emma Schmit is an Iowa organizer for Food & Water Watch. -promoted by Laura Belin

While coronovirus disrupted the Iowa legislative session this year, it failed to hinder business as usual.

Once again, legislators across the state preferred to serve Big Ag instead of their constituents. It’s hardly a surprise given the hundreds of thousands of dollars that flow into the coffers of our elected officials from Farm Bureau, Bayer-Monsanto and fat cats of the factory farm industry, including the Hansen and Rastetter families. While the needs of everyday Iowans were ignored for yet another year, industrial agribusiness cemented its rule over our state.

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Ashley Hinson dodged Iowa House debates on high-profile bills

State Representative Ashley Hinson didn’t miss a roll call vote as the Iowa House wrapped up its work in June, legislative records show. But the two-term Republican mostly stayed out of the House chamber while colleagues debated controversial bills.

The tactic allowed Hinson, who is also the GOP challenger in Iowa’s first Congressional district, to avoid public questioning about policies she supported. Notably, she was absent during most of the House deliberations on imposing a 24-hour waiting period for abortions, establishing a barrier to voting by mail, and giving businesses near-total immunity from lawsuits related to COVID-19.

Neither Hinson nor her Congressional campaign responded to Bleeding Heartland’s repeated inquiries about those absences.

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Iowa's COVID-19 fatalities surpass eighth leading annual cause of death

At least 702 Iowans have died from novel coronavirus infections, according to the state’s official website at midday on June 26. Less than four months since the state recorded its first case, the death toll from COVID-19 alone is higher than the number of Iowans who have died in any recent year of flu or pneumonia, which has been the state’s eighth leading cause of death. Those fatalities occurred despite social distancing and other unusual precautions like restricted nursing home visits since March.

Statistics archived by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicate that 697 Iowans died of flu or pneumonia in 2018, reflecting a worse than usual flu season. Iowa deaths in that category numbered 582 in 2014, 618 in 2015, 504 in 2016, and 578 in 2017.

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Denial is not a strategy for opening Iowa schools

Bruce Lear on what’s missing and what’s problematic in the Iowa Department of Education’s new guidelines for schools to reopen in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. -promoted by Laura Belin

Americans love to pretend. We dress up like our favorite character on Halloween. We tell our children about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But we can’t afford to pretend when a pandemic is sweeping across the globe.

The Iowa Department of Education issued guidance on June 25 for returning to school. The document pretends everything is normal, and offers only political guidance for the reopening of Iowa’s public schools.

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