"Vaccine Hunter" Todd Brady running for Iowa Senate in Ankeny

A Democratic challenger has emerged in the Iowa Senate district now represented by Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, the upper chamber’s top Republican since 2018. Todd Brady announced on July 21 that he’ll run for the seat in Ankeny, a growing suburb to the north of Des Moines.

Brady has a computer science degree from Iowa State University and is best known as the creator of the Vaccine Hunter website, where thousands of Iowans scheduled COVID-19 vaccinations when appointments were scarce in the late winter and spring. Disclosure: in April, that website helped me find an appointment for my older son.

Continue Reading...

How Iowa taxpayers fund private schools, boondoggle for the rich

Peter Fisher is research director for Common Good Iowa. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Iowa legislature recently made a very generous tax credit even more costly and more generous, at the same time expanding a boondoggle for wealthy taxpayers.

As that credit grows more expensive, the rest of the taxpayers must either pay more to make up the difference, or deal with a reduction in public school funding or other state services.

Continue Reading...

Liz Bennett, Breanna Oxley face off in open Iowa Senate primary (updated)

Catching up on some news from before the holiday weekend: a competitive Democratic primary is shaping up for an open Iowa Senate seat covering part of Cedar Rapids. Four-term State Representative Liz Bennett confirmed on June 30 that she will run for the district that State Senator Rob Hogg has represented since 2007. Hogg won’t seek re-election in 2022, he announced last month. Iowa has yet to adopt a new political map, but this district will cover some part of the city of Cedar Rapids.

Bennett is the ranking Democrat on the Iowa House Economic Growth Committee and a member of the Human Resources, Natural Resources, and Information Technology committees, as well as the Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals Appropriations subcommittee. Having won four previous state legislative races, she will be the early favorite in the Iowa Senate primary.

Bennett is also the first out LGBTQ woman elected to the Iowa legislature and the only out LGBTQ person now serving at the statehouse. Only one out LGBTQ person has ever served in the Iowa Senate: Matt McCoy, who did not seek re-election in 2018.

Breanna Oxley, a public school teacher and education activist, was first to declare her candidacy for the Cedar Rapids Senate district on June 15. She told Bleeding Heartland last week she is staying in that race. Her endorsers include former U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack, former State Senator Swati Dandekar, and former Linn County Supervisor Linda Langston.

Continue Reading...

Pissed off: New Iowa law makes fake urine a crime

Marty Ryan covers a new law that received little attention early this year. -promoted by Laura Belin

A private sector employee from Iowa goes across the border on a Friday after work to Illinois. His friends offer a blunt, and he takes a hit. He thinks nothing of it, because recreational use of pot is legal in Illinois. On his way home on Sunday, he realizes that there could be a random drug test early in the week. He’s heard marijuana will stay in his system for up to 30 days, so he purchases a package of fake urine at a vape shop.

Monday morning, he is asked to take a drug test. He manages to get the fake urine into the beaker without anyone seeing him.

Days later, a lab result indicates that he may have used fake urine. Depending on a union contract, an employee handbook, or company policy that has been posted conspicuously, the employee may be disciplined, or in a severe case terminated. Now, he can also be arrested for a simple misdemeanor.

Continue Reading...

Liz Bennett running for Iowa Senate seat in Cedar Rapids (updated)

UPDATE: Bennett announced at a Linn County Democrats’ meeting on June 30 that she will run for this seat. I’ve added her news release below. Original post follows.

State Representative Liz Bennett may join the Democratic field in an Iowa Senate district covering part of the Cedar Rapids area, she announced on June 28.

Bennett said in a news release that after State Senator Rob Hogg confirmed he would not seek re-election in 2022, “numerous community leaders and grassroots activists” encouraged her to run. “Iowa’s political situation is dire and we need an experienced progressive leader in the Senate,” she added.

First elected in 2014, Bennett is the only out LGBTQ person now serving in the Iowa House as well as the first out LGBTQ woman ever elected to the Iowa legislature. She’s the ranking Democrat on the Economic Growth Committee and a member of the Human Resources, Natural Resources, and Information Technology committees, as well as the Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals Appropriations subcommittee. She represents half of Hogg’s current Senate district.

Iowa’s next political map won’t be finalized until sometime this fall, so it’s not clear whether the vacant Senate district will be as Democratic-leaning as Senate district 33 is now. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a nearly two-to-one margin, and Hogg received about 65 percent of the vote in his last re-election bid.

Two other candidates are already seeking the Democratic nomination in the district Hogg will vacate: Breanna Oxley and Sami Scheetz. UPDATE: Scheetz announced on July 1 that he will run for Bennett’s open Iowa House seat in 2022, instead of for the state Senate.

Bleeding Heartland is unlikely to endorse in this primary but welcomes commentaries by any Democrat running, or by their supporters. Guidelines for guest authors endorsing candidates in Iowa Democratic primaries can be found here.

To follow Bennett’s campaign: website, Facebook, Twitter

Continue Reading...

Iowa's new qualified immunity law may not hold up in court

“Iowa’s law enforcement will always have my respect, and I will always have their back,” Governor Kim Reynolds declared while signing Senate File 342 on June 17. Sections 12 through 16 of the wide-ranging policing bill establish a “qualified immunity” standard for Iowa. Effective immediately upon the governor’s signature, state employees or law enforcement officers who violate individuals’ constitutional rights can be sued only if their conduct violated “clearly established” law, such that “every reasonable employee would have understood” the act was illegal.

The provisions were crafted to match decades-old federal qualified immunity standards, and to override an Iowa Supreme Court ruling that was more favorable to Iowans whose rights have been violated by police.

The new law will almost certainly be challenged. And while the conservative majority on the Iowa Supreme Court often defers to other branches of government, the justices may find that Senate File 342’s language on qualified immunity is incompatible with the Iowa Constitution.

Continue Reading...
View More...