The 2007 votes that made 2019 a historic year for transgender Iowans

Only three months in, 2019 is already the most significant year for transgender equality in Iowa since 2007, when state lawmakers and Governor Chet Culver added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes in the Iowa Civil Rights Act. That 1965 law hadn’t been significantly amended in decades.

The crucial Iowa House and Senate votes on the civil rights law happened during the first year since the 1960s that Democrats controlled both legislative chambers and the governor’s office. Support for LGBTQ equality is often taken for granted now in Democratic circles, but the issue was seen as more politically volatile twelve years ago. The bill amending the civil rights act came late in the 2007 legislative session and could not have passed without some Republican votes.

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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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Nate Boulton won't quit Iowa Senate, discloses past "binge drinking" problem

State Senator Nate Boulton made clear this afternoon he will not resign from the legislature over the sexual misconduct allegations that ended his Democratic campaign for governor in May.

In a written statement posted in full below, he attributed some of his past actions to “binge drinking,” which “has no doubt led me to misread appropriate social boundaries and make choices that I would never tolerate while sober.” Boulton said he began working on his alcohol consumption last November and has not had a drink in months despite the “humiliating public debate” over his behavior. He further resolved to “make my example one of hope for anyone struggling through a personal crisis” and continue serving out his Iowa Senate term, which runs through 2020.

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Whitver, Schneider to lead Iowa Senate GOP; Failor out as top aide

Iowa Senate Republicans elected new leaders today following Bill Dix’s unexpected resignation on March 12. Jack Whitver moves up from Senate president to majority leader, and Charles Schneider moves up from majority whip to Senate president. Amy Sinclair, who has been one of four assistant majority leaders, moves up to majority whip. Jake Chapman will take her place as an assistant leader.

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Do we really need a test to measure civics knowledge?

Randy Richardson reports on a proposed Republican solution in search of a problem for Iowa schools. -promoted by desmoinesdem

According to a study by the Council of Great City Schools, a typical student takes 112 mandated standardized tests between pre-kindergarten classes and 12th grade. At least a few of those tests are of dubious value.

Now it appears as though one more test may be required in Iowa schools. GOP State Senator Jerry Behn from Boone introduced Senate File 2341, which would require Iowa students to take and pass a 100 question multiple choice civics test as a requirement for graduation.

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