Six themes from the Iowa legislature's opening day in 2021

The Iowa legislature’s 2021 session began on January 11 with the usual appeals to work together for the good of Iowans. But potential for bipartisan work on high-profile issues appears limited, as the Republicans who enjoy large majorities in the state House and Senate have quite different priorities from their Democratic counterparts.

At the end of this post, I’ve posted the substantive portions of all opening remarks from legislative leaders, as prepared for delivery. The speakers focused on the following matters:

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What the Iowa Democratic Party needs to do ASAP

Amber Gustafson is a progressive activist and was the 2018 Democratic candidate in Iowa Senate district 19. -promoted by Laura Belin

Dear Fellow Iowa Democrats,

It’s a new year and with that comes new perspectives and new outlooks.

In November of 2020, I put my name forward to run for Iowa Democratic Party chair and with it I shared a plan to help our party regain our footing in our state. It was with determination and optimism that I stepped forward to offer my services to our party. But since my initial announcement, my family’s circumstances have come to bear on my plans for 2021.

It is with great regret that I have chosen to withdraw my name for consideration as chair of the Iowa Democratic Party.

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Needed: A ceasefire

Ira Lacher calls for Republicans and Democrats to declare a ceasefire in four areas that escalate tensions on both sides. -promoted by Laura Belin

“Since Election Day and for weeks prior, Trump has all but ceased to actively manage the deadly pandemic, which so far has killed at least 244,000 Americans, infected at least 10.9 million and choked the country’s economy,” reported for the the Washington Post reported on November 14.

In doing so, Trump has disregarded every imperative set forth in the Preamble to the Constitution. His latest impeachable offense is one of many throughout his term. But what did Congressional Democrats impeach him for? A quid pro quo with Ukraine that no one understood.

It’s just one example of how the Dumpstercratic Party has lumbered from one blunder to another: from failing to take advantage of its majority status in the Senate under President Barack Obama (“Maa … Mitch McConnell hit me!”), to spending a two-year primary season quibbling over what it stands for, to feebly sponsoring weak candidates in the general election. The party needs a massive reboot. But not the one you’re thinking of.

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Bumper cars as Tuesday approaches

Ira Lacher shares what’s on his mind two days before a momentous election. -promoted by Laura Belin

When deadline nears for sports columnists and they don’t have a clue what to write coherently about, many resort to “three-dot” columns, emptying their notebooks and typing whatever comes to mind, separated by three dots: “Iowa needed to play better Saturday. … How ’bout them Clones?”

As I write this, the election is just two days away and I don’t have a clue of long-form coherency. Instead, like bumper cars, a jumble of thoughts continues to career around my head; some colliding, some narrowly evading one another, but always in motion. Such as:

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Joni Ernst learned the wrong lesson from Chuck Grassley

Senator Joni Ernst shouldn’t be in this position.

Given Iowans’ tendency to re-elect incumbents and the state’s rightward drift this past decade, she should be running ten points ahead.

Instead, Iowa’s Senate race is universally seen as a toss-up. Ernst has led in only two polls released since the June primary. Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield has led in fourteen polls during the same period.

Not all of Ernst’s political problems are her own creation. The COVID-19 pandemic and President Donald Trump’s disastrous leadership have put at risk several GOP-held seats that once seemed safe.

But Ernst could have set herself up better to survive a tough environment for her party. Her most important strategic error was not following the example Chuck Grassley set as a 40-something first-term senator.

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Bill would allow more guns in Iowa's local government buildings, parks

Bridget Carberry Montgomery sounds the alarm about a bill Iowa Senate Republicans sent to the governor last week. Bleeding Heartland covered its provisions in detail after House Republicans approved the legislation in February. -promoted by Laura Belin

As a member of the Urbandale City Council, I have a responsibility to ensure the safety of residents, employees, and visitors to Urbandale. In that capacity, I implore Governor Kim Reynolds to veto House File 2502, because it interferes with our state’s long history of local control and makes our communities less safe.  

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