Iowa Senate broadens ethics code, but not transparency rules

Iowa state senators have amended their chamber’s ethics code following a high-profile complaint against Democratic Senator Nate Boulton, which was dismissed late last year.

The new language cover actions occurring outside the capitol building and allows citizens to file a complaint more than three years after an incident. However, the updated code would still lead to dismissal of a complaint like Sharon Wegner’s allegations against Boulton.

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Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2019

The Iowa Senate convened for its 2019 session on January 14 with 32 Republicans and 18 Democrats. A record eleven senators are women (six Democrats and five Republicans), up from six women in the chamber at the start of the last legislature’s work.

I enclose below details on the majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing Iowa Senate committees. Where relevant, I’ve mentioned changes since last year’s legislative session. Note that Democratic Senator Nate Boulton will serve on committees after all. Minority Leader Janet Petersen had declined to assign him to any committees last month.

A few words about demographics: all current state senators are white. To my knowledge, the only African American ever to serve in the Iowa Senate was Tom Mann, elected to two terms during the 1980s. No Latino has ever served in the Iowa legislature; in 2014, Nathan Blake fell 18 votes short of becoming the first. No Asian American has served in the Iowa Senate since Swati Dandekar resigned in 2011.

Some non-political trivia: the 50 Iowa senators include two Smiths (a Democrat and a Republican) and two Taylors (both Democrats). As for first names, there are three Marks, three Zachs, and two men each named Dan, Jim, Tim, Tom, and Jeff.

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Iowa Senate needs to understand: religious freedom also applies to atheists

Justin Scott is the state director for the Iowa chapter of American Atheists. -promoted by Laura Belin

The notion of religious freedom — what it is, what it isn’t and what it should be — is being tested here in Iowa.

In April 2017, the Iowa House of Representatives respected my religious rights when I delivered the first atheistic invocation in that body’s history. The Iowa Senate, however, has denied my repeated requests to perform a similar invocation. In so doing, the Senate is not only directly discriminating against me, but also violating the Constitution, which protects all faiths equally.

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Key GOP lawmaker not interested in limiting state auditor's subpoena power

Republicans in Wisconsin and Michigan responded to recent election losses by limiting the powers of some Democratic statewide officials. GOP lawmakers are rumored to be considering similar legislation in Iowa, where Rob Sand just took office as the first Democrat to serve as state auditor in more than 50 years.

But Republican State Representative Bobby Kaufmann, who chairs the Iowa House State Government Committee, told Bleeding Heartland he has no interest in revoking or curtailing the subpoena power of Sand’s office.

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Nobody asked for my opinion, but I’m giving it anyway (part 1)

Amber Gustafson was the Democratic candidate in Iowa Senate district 19. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Some Key Improvements Iowa Democratic Organizations Can Make Ahead of 2020

Okay, maybe a few people have asked for my opinion on what Iowa Democrats could have done better in 2018, and how we can be in a better position in 2020 to retake one or both of the houses of the state legislature, defeat Senator Joni Ernst, keep Representatives Dave Loebsack, Abby Finkenauer, and Cindy Axne, send Steve King packing, and help rid our country of the scourge of Donald Trump.

It has been about a month since I ran against and nearly defeated Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver in a district where he ran twice previously unopposed – and made him spend more than $500,000 defending his seat in a district with a distinct Republican registration advantage – while proudly running on a platform of protecting abortion rights and reducing gun violence.

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Nate Boulton now subject of Iowa Senate ethics complaint

The Iowa Senate Ethics Committee has received a formal complaint from Sharon Wegner regarding alleged sexual misconduct by Nate Boulton before he was elected to the legislature, Brianne Pfannenstiel reported for the Des Moines Register on November 19. It’s unclear whether the complaint will lead to a broader investigation of Boulton, who has ignored calls from some leaders of his caucus to resign.

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