Reynolds, GOP killed way to reduce racial, economic disparities in Iowa courts

Governor Kim Reynolds made headlines last week with two vetoes: blocking language targeting the attorney general, and rejecting a medical cannabis bill that had strong bipartisan support in both chambers.

A provision she didn’t veto drew little attention. For the foreseeable future, it will prevent Iowa courts from using a tool designed to make the criminal justice system more fair to defendants of all races and income levels.

Reynolds should appreciate the value of the Public Safety Assessment (PSA), since she works closely with two former State Public Defenders: Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg and the governor’s senior legal counsel Sam Langholz. But last year she ordered a premature end to a pilot program introducing the tool in four counties. The governor’s staff did not reply to repeated inquiries about the reasoning behind Reynolds’ stance on this policy.

Notably, the owner of Iowa’s largest bail bonding company substantially increased his giving to GOP candidates during the last election cycle, donating $10,100 to the governor’s campaign and $28,050 to Republicans serving in the state legislature.

Continue Reading...

2019 Iowa legislative recap: Constitutional amendments

Bleeding Heartland continues to catch up on the legislature’s significant actions during the session that ended on April 27. Previous posts related to the work of the Iowa House or Senate can be found here.

Republicans showed little interest in amending the Iowa Constitution during the 2019 session. Only one amendment passed both chambers. If and when that proposal appears on a statewide ballot, it will spark a costly and divisive campaign about gun rights and regulations.

The Senate and House debate over the pro-gun amendment is the focus of the first half of this post. Arguments raised on both sides will surely return in future television commercials and mass mailings.

The rest of the post reviews this year’s unsuccessful attempts to change the constitution. One amendment (backed by Governor Kim Reynolds) made it through the Iowa House, and four others advanced from a House or Senate committee but did not come up for a floor vote. The rest did not get through a committee, even though some of the same ideas went further last year.

Continue Reading...

David Young beats too-clever-by-half Zach Nunn to IA-03 starting gate

Former U.S. Representative David Young became the first declared Republican candidate in Iowa’s third Congressional district on May 6, telling the Des Moines Register’s Brianne Pfannenstiel he looks forward to campaigning against the Democrat who defeated him last November.

“I spent a lot of time with folks around the 3rd District, listening to their priorities and listening to their voices, and they are not being heard right now in the U.S. Congress,” Young said in an interview. “The policies that Cindy Axne is putting forward with Nancy Pelosi is not what Iowans are talking about or wanting.”

Young gave the exclusive to the Register about nine hours after State Senator Zach Nunn announced a “listening tour” of the district’s sixteen counties while he pretends to be merely considering a bid for the U.S. House.

Continue Reading...

House bill would update Iowa divorce law, removing tool for abusers

Amanda Rex-Johnson reports on a lesser-known bill that made it through the Iowa legislature’s first “funnel.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Two types of people immerse themselves in politics: those who are motivated by personal achievement, and those who find motivation born in affliction, for whom adversity becomes a catalyst.

While I’ve always expressed my convictions, often in the political sphere, opinions alone don’t typically change the rules that govern society. It wasn’t until Iowa law affected my family that I was prodded into action.

Continue Reading...

Iowa Senate district 8 preview: Dan Dawson vs. Steve Gorman

Every election, a handful of Iowa legislative races turn out to be far closer than expected. One of the sleepers in 2018 was Steve Gorman’s rematch against Republican State Representative Mary Ann Hanusa in House district 16, covering part of Council Bluffs.

Hanusa was a four-term incumbent and had defeated Gorman by 6,847 votes to 5,120 (57.2 percent to 42.8 percent) in 2016. Last year, Republicans spent about $83,000 on direct mail, radio, and digital advertising for Hanusa (see here and here), far less than they spent in districts they worried about losing. By the same token, Democrats spent at least $100,000 in more than a dozen Iowa House races during the 2018 campaign, including $128,000 defending the other Council Bluffs-based seat. Gorman had to raise all of the $24,405.45 the party spent on his behalf.

Nevertheless, Gorman nearly pulled off an upset, losing to Hanusa by 4,949 votes to 4,835 (49.5 percent to 48.4 percent), with 208 votes going to Libertarian Steve Sechrest. Now Gorman’s the first announced Democratic candidate for a Republican-held Iowa Senate seat. Both parties will surely take his challenge seriously in 2020.

Continue Reading...
View More...