Call to action for Iowans united on issues like health care, climate action

Barb Kalbach is the Board President of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action and a fourth generation family farmer from Adair County. -promoted by Laura Belin

Caucus season means endless polls constantly taking the temperature of how Iowans are dividing themselves among this year’s over-abundant crop of charismatic politicians. At the Polk County Steak Fry the paid staff and supporters of the campaigns competed to hold the most signs and chant their candidate’s name the loudest.

What gets lost in the caucus circus is how much unites us beyond the candidates, like the Selzer Iowa poll for the Des Moines Register in March, which showed 91 percent support among Iowa Democratic caucus-goers for the Green New Deal, 84 percent for Medicare for All, and 76 percent for tuition-free public college.

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Saturday's other presidential candidate event

Ira Lacher reports on the People’s Forum in Des Moines. -promoted by Laura Belin

While thousands sat in single-lane traffic at Water Works Park hoping to hear seventeen presidential candidates deliver ten-minute stump speeches, several thousand Midwesterners from five states crammed into the Iowa Events Center on September 21 to listen to four candidates explain at length why they deserved the votes of progressives.

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Water is our shared lifeblood

Sable Knapp‘s home state is Iowa, and she currently lives in Maine. -promoted by Laura Belin

The human body is two-thirds water, as is the surface of the planet we inhabit. Water quality profoundly affects human health and clean water protections must be upheld. Everyone should be able to have the peace of mind that comes from guaranteed safe, free drinking water.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement works persistently to defend Iowa’s water. By suing the State of Iowa for failing to ensure the safety of Raccoon River, Iowa CCI and Food & Water Watch are sending a strong “No Means No” message to polluters and politicians who authorize the pollution of Iowa’s rivers. Bill Stowe, Des Moines Water Works CEO, aptly said, “We are completely at the mercy of what gets dumped in our rivers each day.”

The rallying cry “Water is Life” is a fundamental truth. Poet and activist Lyla June evokes this power in her poem “And God is the Water,” which concludes with the words, “I am the rock and God is the water.” The way we care for nature reflects the way we care for ourselves.

As America’s waterways slip further into the hands of corporate players, subsequent pollution continuously affects everyone. Iowa’s elected officials must be held responsible for facilitating the revitalization and protection of the water that flows through Iowa.

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Farm Bill failure and the Washington bubble

Barb Kalbach: “Congress panders to corporate ag at the expense of family farms, rural communities, and our food supply.” -promoted by Laura Belin

“This is an evolutionary, not revolutionary Farm Bill,” is the refrain from the Congressional crafters of the recently passed legislation. But this out-of-touch bill locks in a factory farm system that for decades has pushed independent family farmers off their land and left rural residents and our environment worse off.

As our democracy in Washington fails us, important fights at the local and state level are taking on corporate agriculture interests and building a new future for family farmers and rural communities.

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MidAmerican's bid to crush small solar creates strange lobbying bedfellows

MidAmerican Energy’s effort to crush small-scale solar generation made it through the Iowa legislature’s first “funnel” and will be eligible for floor debate in both chambers. The House Commerce Committee on March 4 approved House Study Bill 185 (now renamed House File 669) without amendment on a party-line 12 to 10 vote. The Senate Commerce Committee amended the companion Senate Study Bill 1201 before advancing it on March 7.

The bill will likely pass the upper chamber, where Republicans have a 32 to 17 majority. Although Republicans outnumber Democrats by 54 to 46 in the House, and MidAmerican’s political action committee donated to dozens of incumbents’ campaigns last year, getting the solar bill through the lower chamber will be no easy task. A utility-backed bill to undercut energy efficiency programs was one of the heaviest lifts during the 2018 session. Only after several concessions did supporters cobble together 52 Republican votes in the House. The GOP held 59 seats at that time.

More than three dozen corporations, industry groups, or advocacy organizations have lobbyists registered for or against MidAmerican’s solar bill. While it’s not unusual for a high-profile bill to draw that kind of attention, the two camps seeking to persuade legislators on this issue reflect alliances rarely seen at the statehouse.

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Representative Fisher’s last chance

Leaders of Iowa House or Senate committees can bury legislation without ever allowing discussion, let alone a vote. As Emma Schmit and Adam Mason report, that’s what’s happening with a bill that could help clean up our state’s filthy waterways. -promoted by Laura Belin

Republican State Representative Dean Fisher has less than one week left to do the right thing for Iowa’s rural communities, independent farms, and water quality.

Fisher has a choice to make this week. As chair of the House Environmental Protection committee, he is single-handedly holding up progress on a bill that would enact a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms. We aren’t talking about a floor vote or even a committee vote– we’re talking his outright refusal to even assign the bill to a subcommittee so that it could be debated.

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