Some bad laws for Iowa's environment take effect today

Continuing Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of the Iowa legislature’s work during the 2019 session.

Iowa’s environmental community had something to celebrate when state lawmakers adjourned for the year without passing legislation that would crush small-scale solar development. An unusual coalition including solar installers, environmental groups, and livestock farmers helped keep the bill bottled up in the Iowa House despite intense lobbying by MidAmerican Energy and its allies, along with massive spending by undisclosed donors.

Unfortunately, lawmakers approved and Governor Kim Reynolds signed several other measures that will be detrimental for Iowa’s natural resources and take our state’s energy policy in the wrong direction. The new laws take effect today, as the 2020 fiscal year begins.

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Tricia Gavin challenging Charles Schneider in Iowa Senate district 22

Republican State Senator Charles Schneider coasted to re-election in 2016. He defeated his Senate district 22 challenger Andrew Barnes by more than 4,000 votes after spending only a token amount on the race. In fact, Schneider gave most of his own campaign funds ($133,000) to the Iowa GOP for use in more competitive state Senate districts.

Schneider drew his first declared challenger for this cycle on June 11, when Tricia Gavin announced her candidacy. At least one other Democrat is seriously considering this race, so Schneider’s general election opponent will not be known until after the June 2020 primary.

Given recent political trends in the western suburbs of Des Moines, it’s already obvious that Senate district 22 will be a top Democratic target next year.

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Top ten tips for Governor Reynolds' new public relations staffer

Democratic State Senator Claire Celsi has extensive experience in the public relations field. -promoted by Laura Belin

As ranking member of the Iowa Senate’s Administration and Regulation Appropriations Subcommittee, I was supposed to be privy to budget requests from state agencies, including the governor’s office. Unfortunately, Governor Kim Reynolds refused our committee’s request to appear in person to explain why they were requesting a 10 percent increase in their budget while requesting a “status quo” budget from all other state departments.

Since our committee’s process was prematurely cut short by Committee Chair Representative John Landon, I attempted to go through staff back channels to find out what the $200,000 increase would be used for. I was told that Reynolds had requested the hiring of two analysts, one for tax policy and one for healthcare policy. I thought those were perfectly reasonable requests, since both areas have been so completely botched by Republicans in the past three years. But I still wondered why no one would come to our committee meeting to explain the request.

Now we have the answer. Turns out, the governor is planning to hire a “public relations manager.” I have some advice for the new staff member, based on my years of experience in public relations, brand management and communications. Some of my former clients were state agencies, so I know the demands they will be facing.

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