# Iowa Citizen Action Network

Iowans are health care voters

Sue Dinsdale of the Iowa Citizen Action Network reports on efforts to mobilize Americans who need quality, affordable health care, with protections for pre-existing conditions. -promoted by desmoinesdem

After watching U.S. Representatives Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04) vote time after time to repeal their coverage, Iowans understand that it has never been more important for lawmakers to stand up for our right to health care. And as one poll after another shows, health care will play a significant role in this year’s election.

Because of the urgency surrounding this issue, across Iowa and across the country, there is an aggressive mobilization effort underway in all 50 states by Health Care Voter in order to hold Republicans feet to the fire for their efforts to undermine and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

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Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 1)

I expected 2009 to be a relatively quiet year in Iowa politics, but was I ever wrong.

The governor’s race heated up, state revenues melted down, key bills lived and died during the legislative session, and the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Varnum v Brien became one of this state’s major events of the decade.

After the jump I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from January through June 2009. Any comments about the year that passed are welcome in this thread.

Although I wrote a lot of posts last year, there were many important stories I didn’t manage to cover. I recommend reading Iowa Independent’s compilation of “Iowa’s most overlooked and under reported stories of 2009,” as well as that blog’s review of “stories that will continue to impact Iowa in 2010.”

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Labor Day links and events coming up this week

Hope you’ve been enjoying the perfect Iowa weather during this holiday weekend. The U.S. Department of Labor and Blog for Iowa provide background on the history of Labor Day.

Organized labor doesn’t have a lot to celebrate right now, with more job losses in the manufacturing sector and unemployment rising across the country (though Iowa’s unemployment rate is significantly lower than the national average). The Iowa Policy Project finds that “the state of working Iowa” is not good. As in the previous recession, we are losing jobs with good benefits as wages stagnate for the people who still have jobs. We now rank 32nd in terms of median wages, and lower incomes mean less money for consumers to spend at other businesses. Click here for the full report, which also explains that “policy makers could do more to make work pay for low- and moderate-income working families and to insist upon job-quality requirements in economic development strategies.”  

Iowa hasn’t adopted most of organized labor’s key legislative priorities in recent years, in part because of the “six-pack” of Iowa House Democrats that blocked those bills. On the plus side, Curt Hanson’s victory in the House district 90 special election means we haven’t lost any ground on this front. We only need to persuade one or two “six-pack members” (or defeat them in Democratic primaries) to find the 51st vote for “prevailing wage,” for instance.

I haven’t heard much lately about Senator Tom Harkin’s efforts to find a compromise on the Employee Free Choice Act. Getting 60 votes in the Senate for anything meaningful is likely to be quite difficult. The Service Employees International Union has some news related to the EFCA here.

Two years ago I attended the Solidarity Fest Labor Day celebration in Des Moines, featuring John Edwards and Hillary Clinton. The same event, sponsored by the South Central Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, takes place today in the 4-H building at the State Fairgrounds from noon to 2 pm. Later today, the Friends of Iowa Midwives are having a family-friendly potluck picnic at Raccoon River park in West Des Moines (4 to 8 pm, suggested donation $5).

After the jump I’ve posted details for lots of other events coming up this week.

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Events coming up this weekend and next week

I was downtown today helping set up a couple of booths for the Natural Living Expo tomorrow, which has been taking up a lot of my time lately. Maybe I’ll see some of you there, but I won’t have my “desmoinesdem” hat on, so won’t be talking about partisan politics.

As always, please post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of an event I’ve left out.

The calendar is after the jump.

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Events coming up this week

Happy Spring, Bleeding Heartland readers! There’s a lot happening this week, and I’ve posted the events after the jump.

Post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of something good happening that I’ve left out.

If you live within striking distance of Iowa City, there’s a benefit for the Iowa Renewable Energy Association tonight at the Mill (details below).

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Events coming up during the next two weeks

There’s a lot going on in the next couple of weeks for those who haven’t split Iowa for spring break. Event details are after the jump.

Please post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of an event I’ve left out.

FYI, the Iowa Environmental Council has a job opportunity:

The Iowa Environmental Council is in the process of establishing an air quality program area. The Council is seeking an individual to conduct research, engage in coalition building and public education and advise the Council on policy opportunities available to protect Iowa’s air quality. For job requirements, description, salary information and how to apply, go to: www.iaenvironment.org, and click on “job opening” on the gold sidebar.

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Iowa Citizen Action Network announces 2009 award winners

Congratulations are in order for the three winners of the Iowa Citizen Action Network’s 2009 awards.

Congressman Bruce Braley of Iowa’s first district will receive the award for legislative leadership. (Apparently Braley is a longtime ICAN member–good for him!) The Progressive Coalition of Central Iowa will receive the award for grassroots leadership. ICAN board member Brad Lint, executive director of the Iowa Association for Justice, will receive the political strategist award.

These awards will be presented at ICAN’s 30th anniversary celebration on Saturday, March 28, from 5:30 to 7:00 pm at the Hilton Garden Inn, 8600 Northpark Drive in Johnston. Tickets for this event cost $30. USAction President William McNary will present Braley’s award, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie will present PCCI’s award, and Open Left co-founder Mike Lux (author of the new book The Progressive Revolution) will present Lint’s award.

There’s a lot happening on March 28, and ICAN’s celebration seems like a good place to go after you attend the Iowa Democratic Women’s Summit and/or the Natural Living Expo.  

Events coming up this weekend and next week

Not a whole lot is happening yet, but things will pick up quickly once the legislature is back in session, beginning January 12.

As always, post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of an event I’ve left out.

Saturday, January 3:

The Iowa Citizen Action Network is organizing a “Roadmap to Economic Recovery” town hall meeting from 10:30 am to noon at the Bidwell Riverside Center, 1203 Hartford in Des Moines. For more details about the event, read this post at Century of the Common Iowan.

Monday, January 5:

At 10 am the Des Moines Register’s editorial board will interview top Iowa Republicans in the legislature: Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley, House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen, and House Minority Whip Linda Upmeyer. People will be able to watch the interviews live at the Register’s website.

Tuesday, January 6:

At 9:30 am the Register’s editorial board will interview top Iowa Democrats in the legislature: Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, House Speaker Pat Murphy, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. People will be able to watch the interviews live at the Register’s website.

Thursday, January 8:

From the Iowa Environmental Council e-mail bulletin, via Angela Clark of enrgPATH:

Sustainable Business After Hours meet monthly at Mars Café, the second Thursday of every month. Jan 8 is the next one at 5:30 p.m. This is for anyone in business that is interested in hearing about how others are incorporating sustainability into their business. We feature a non-profit group each month from the Sustainability spectrum as well. Hope to see you there!

Practical Farmers of Iowa is giving you a chance to see the documentary “King Corn” and meet the film-makers:

The movie King Corn is coming to Des Moines, along with co-star Curt Ellis and director Aaron Woolf, for a Practical Farmers of Iowa fundraiser on January 8. The screening will be at the Fleur Cinema, and movie time is 7:00. After the movie, join Curt Ellis and Aaron Woolf for dessert, drinks, and discussion.

King Corn’s Curt Ellis: “We are supporting Practical Farmers of Iowa through this fundraiser because they provide a vision for what all Iowa agriculture might look like a generation from now: family-driven farms growing healthy and sustainable food in thriving local communities.”

King Corn tracks two college kids’ quest to understand the food system.  “As city kids from the coasts, we had no idea that the food we were eating–meat, milk, or soda–had its roots on a corn farm.  When we found out just how much of our diet was coming from that one crop, we decided to see the Corn Kingdom for ourselves,” said Curt. “We moved to Iowa , grew an acre of corn, and followed the fate of our crop as food. Along the way, we found out some wonderful things about agriculture, and some disconcerting things about our food.”

Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, and $10 for students. To purchase tickets, call Suzi at (515)232-5661 or fill out and send in the ticket order form.

Sponsors for this fundraiser are Des Moines Area Community College , Drake University Environmental Science and Policy Program, Environmental Nutrition Solutions, Iowa Farmers Union, Sage, Slow Food Des Moines, and the Wallace House Foundation.

Practical Farmers of Iowa includes a diverse group of farmers and nonfarmers. Corn, soybeans, beef cattle, and hay are the top enterprises for PFI farmers, although many have a variety of other operations, including fruits and vegetables. PFI’s programming stresses farmer-to-farmer networking through research and demonstration, field days, conferences, and more. For more information, call (515)232-5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org.

Friday, January 9:

The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women is having a lunch and learn to discuss its legislative agenda for the coming session:

12 noon – 1 p.m.

State Capitol, Room 116

Free and open to the public * Bring your lunch and join us!

2009 Policy Agenda

1.      Enhance protections for equal pay.

2.      Provide sustainable funding for domestic violence and sexual assault centers across the state.

3.      Extend gender balance requirement on boards and commissions to political subdivisions of the state.

4.      Support policy and research to assist low-income women entering skill shortage areas.

The annual conference of Practical Farmers of Iowa opens in Marshalltown:

The 2009 PFI conference, “Biological Harvest: The Sustainable Farmer’s Hidden Opportunity,” will take place at Marshalltown Community College January 9 and 10. Keynote speaker Joel Huesby, fourth-generation farmer who farms in Washington State, speaks with great optimism about the future of agriculture and the tremendous opportunities for “farming with the sun.” Friday evening of the conference King Corn co-star Curt Ellis and director Aaron Woolf will show a sneak preview of their new film, tentatively titled “Big River,” that looks at the environmental impacts of high-intensity corn production. Dave Baker from the Beginning Farmer Center is available for private consultations. Holistic veterinarian Will Winter will host a one-on-one coffee shop Saturday. Other highlights include: business meeting, member posters, Iowa-grown meals, silent auction, and many opportunities to network with fellow farmers and agriculture advocates. The conference offers a diverse line-up of workshops. For more information or to register, visit www.practicalfarmers.org or contact Suzi Berhnard, (515)232-5661, suzi@practicalfarmers.org.

Saturday, January 10:

From the Iowa Environmental Council e-mail bulletin:

A meeting of anyone interested in habitat and water quality issues in the Walnut Creek Watershed will occur on Saturday, January 10, in the morning. The exact time and place will be announced later. Walnut Creek is a tributary of the Raccoon River, and it has significant rural and urban watershed areas. The tentative meeting schedule includes an introductory slide presentation and overview, interest- and issue-based working groups, and discussion of outreach to communities and potential funding sources. If you want a detailed announcement of the meeting, please send an email to Lee Searles at searleslr@msn.com or contact him at 515-979-6457.

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Call Chuck Grassley today on universal health care

I want to pass along this e-mail alert from the Iowa Citizen Action Network:


The Iowa Citizen Action Network is leading the Health Care for America Now Coalition in Iowa that is urging comprehensive reform of our health care system so that it truly provides affordable accessible health care for all. We are working with partners to sign every member of congress onto a statement of health care principals that define quality, affordable, health care we can all count on. We have issued invitations to meet with this coalition and sent letters, faxes and emails containing the health care principals and asking Iowa ‘s entire congressional delegation to tell us “Which Side Are You On?”

ICAN and our coalition partners met with Senator Harkin in August where he expressed his support for the health care reform principals and signed on the “Which Side Are You On?” statement in support of our principals. Last month Representatives Loebsack and Braley faxed back signed statements of their support. Thank you!

Now we are turning our attention to Senator Grassley.




We have been talking to Iowa’s Congressional Delegation to get them to explain to us what their views on health care reform are – one that says we all have a stake in covering the 47 million uninsured, or one that says we need less regulation and more “on your own” solutions.

So far, through your hard work, Senator Harkin, Representative Braley, and Representative Loebsack have all signed their support to Health Care for America Now, and a vision that says there is a role for individuals, employers, the community, and the government to fix this health care mess we find ourselves in now.

But we still need your help.  Senator Grassley still has yet to tell us where he stands on this critical issue, and your calls can make a difference.




We’ve put together an easy-to-use webpage for you to call your members of Congress. Just click on the link below, enter in your information – including your phone number – and click the “Call” button. In a few moments, you’ll receive a call to that phone number that will automatically put you in touch with your member of Congress.   http://tools.advomatic.com/8/hcn

Or, if you’d prefer, you can be automatically connected to Congress by calling, toll free, 1-888-436-8427.

Here’s an example of what to say:

Hello, my name is ____________________________.  I’m calling today because I think fixing the health care system should be the top priority for Congress and the New President in 2009 and I want to know now whether Senator Grassley agrees.

I want to encourage Grassley to support guaranteed quality, affordable health care for all and to reject health care proposals that reduce regulations for insurance companies, that tax my current coverage and that drive more people into the individual market to fend for themselves.

I’d like Senator Grassley to respond in writing with his position.  Thanks!

And don’t forget to let us know what you found out by calling organizer Charlie Wishman at 515-277-5077 x15, or by emailing him at cwishman@iowcan.org

When I call the office of a member of Congress, I always like to use my own words rather than a prepared script, but it’s nice to have an example of appropriate things to say.

If you or someone you care about has had a problem related to lack of health insurance, or an insurance company’s failure to cover needed medical treatment, you’ll want to bring that up in your conversation with Grassley’s staff.

I am passionate about making health care accessible for all. I developed a serious infection last winter that could have become life-threatening if I had delayed going to the doctor. Many people without insurance or with limited coverage don’t see a doctor until the health problem is so severe that they need to go to the emergency room.

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