Where things stand with Republican bills targeting Iowa workers

Republican attacks on working Iowans have received less attention this year than in 2017, when new laws shredded public employee collective bargaining rights, blocked local governments from raising the minimum wage, and reduced workers’ compensation benefits, especially for those who hurt their shoulder on the job.

But below the radar, GOP lawmakers have moved several bills lately that would make life harder for working people, including some facing the difficult circumstances of unemployment or workplace injury.

Continue Reading...

There are no Rs and Ds in my community

Matt Chapman has been helping to organize neighbors since residents of his mobile home park recently received notice that rent will go up by some 69 percent in June. -promoted by Laura Belin

The evictions have started where I live at Midwest Country Estates in Waukee. The new owners, Havenpark Capital, have a business model devoid of any compassion or even a passing concern for the elderly and vulnerable in the mobile home park they purchased. They made a promise to the shareholders, and apparently there is no room for empathy when dividends are being maximized.

Continue Reading...

Dear Iowans: Teacher patience is running out

Bruce Lear worries despairing teachers may resort to illegal strikes if Iowans don’t recognize “public schools are a precious resource worth the fight.” -promoted by Laura Belin

I thought about just writing politicians, but frankly, this is too important to leave for political gamesmanship. I’m writing this open letter to sound the alarm. To put you on notice. I’m writing as a public service so we can all avoid what is coming.

It’s a storm warning.

Continue Reading...

House Republicans dropped worst parts of unemployment bill--for now

You don’t hear this every day: in an Iowa House speech on March 21, Democratic State Representative Kirsten Running-Marquardt repeatedly thanked GOP colleagues for their work on a bill she opposed. House File 531 changed some aspects of our state’s unemployment insurance and benefits system. The first draft was much worse than the legislation House Republicans approved on a party-line vote this week.

The bill’s floor manager, State Representative Gary Worthan, warned that next year, lawmakers may return to a idea jettisoned following intense opposition from Democrats and labor groups.

Continue Reading...

Three words

Bruce Lear helped negotiate educator contracts for 27 years as a regional director for the Iowa State Education Association. -promoted by Laura Belin

After February 16, 2017, I heard three words across the bargaining table that sent chills up my spine and tears to my eyes.

We were bargaining at a community college. The college had made an initial proposal to eliminate all provisions of the Master Contract except the base wage. We pushed to hear why. After all, those provisions had been in place for over 30 years, and they worked for both parties.

We didn’t get an answer. We pushed harder and a little louder. Still, there was silence from the other side. Finally, forgetting about everything except getting an answer, I used my undiplomatic voice and shouted, “We expect an answer, and we expect it now!”

The outburst was met with eye averted silence. Finally, in a voice barely above a whisper, the human resource director said, “Because we can.”

Continue Reading...

MidAmerican's bid to crush small solar creates strange lobbying bedfellows

MidAmerican Energy’s effort to crush small-scale solar generation made it through the Iowa legislature’s first “funnel” and will be eligible for floor debate in both chambers. The House Commerce Committee on March 4 approved House Study Bill 185 (now renamed House File 669) without amendment on a party-line 12 to 10 vote. The Senate Commerce Committee amended the companion Senate Study Bill 1201 before advancing it on March 7.

The bill will likely pass the upper chamber, where Republicans have a 32 to 17 majority. Although Republicans outnumber Democrats by 54 to 46 in the House, and MidAmerican’s political action committee donated to dozens of incumbents’ campaigns last year, getting the solar bill through the lower chamber will be no easy task. A utility-backed bill to undercut energy efficiency programs was one of the heaviest lifts during the 2018 session. Only after several concessions did supporters cobble together 52 Republican votes in the House. The GOP held 59 seats at that time.

More than three dozen corporations, industry groups, or advocacy organizations have lobbyists registered for or against MidAmerican’s solar bill. While it’s not unusual for a high-profile bill to draw that kind of attention, the two camps seeking to persuade legislators on this issue reflect alliances rarely seen at the statehouse.

Continue Reading...
View More...