# Lobbying



Iowa Democrats won't speak truth to ethanol power

The biofuels industry got a big win in the Iowa legislature this week, as the state House and Senate approved a bill requiring most gas stations in the state to dispense a higher ethanol blend known as E15 from at least half of their pumps.

All but a handful of Democratic legislators voted for the bill, and no Democrat spoke against the proposal during Senate or House floor debate.

It was the latest example of how Iowa Democratic politicians have embraced biofuels industry talking points and avoided challenging any policies seen as supporting ethanol.

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Bill would deny justice to truck crash victims

Aside from must-do tasks like adopting a budget for the coming fiscal year, Republican leaders of the Iowa House and Senate hope to secure agreement on a few policy bills before adjournment. The outstanding issues include proposed cuts to unemployment benefits, a plan to divert public education funds to private schools, and changes to Iowa’s can and bottle recycling program.

Another priority for legislative leaders is a bill to shield trucking companies from some kinds of lawsuits and cap damages for other legal claims related to commercial vehicle crashes. The proposal lacked enough support among Iowa House Republicans to advance during the 2021 session, and a revised version produced a rare defeat for House leaders in a floor vote last month.

James Bergert lost his wife Joanna Rizzo and was injured himself in a horrific collision on Interstate 35 last August. He and his wife’s estate filed suit March 18 against the tow truck driver who allegedly caused the crash, as well against the trucking company that driver owns. Bergert and his attorney Erik Luthens spoke to Bleeding Heartland recently about the case and how pending “tort reform” proposals would affect future victims of similar tragedies.

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One Iowa lobbyist's startling—but informative—admission

March 18 was the Iowa legislature’s second “funnel” deadline. Other than tax or appropriations bills, most legislation must have been approved by one chamber and at least one committee in the other chamber in order to stay “alive” for the rest of the year.

Every year, some bills that clear the Iowa House or Senate nearly unanimously die without action in the other chamber, or remain alive in name only, having been gutted while moving through committee.

Why would a proposal with support across the spectrum run into trouble? Sometimes a committee chair or member of leadership has a specific reason for wanting to kill a bill. Other times, powerful interest groups put on a full-court press to slow the momentum of a popular idea.

It’s often hard to get lawmakers or lobbyists on the record about why a bill died under such circumstances. But a few days ago, one experienced lobbyist laid it on the table during a Senate subcommittee hearing.

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Midwifery licensure would improve maternal health, infant outcomes

Bethany Gates is a Certified Professional Midwife from Vinton (Benton County), where she lives with her husband, Judah, and their 4 daughters.

Certified Professional Midwives are midwives who practice in an out-of-hospital setting. Iowa CPMs attend home births; in other states, CPMs attend home births and births in birth centers. 

Here in Iowa, CPMs are unregulated, and the Iowa Code does not have any section addressing their practice. While this may sound like freedom in theory, the reality is that midwives face many challenges as they strive to provide quality care, because Iowa does not license the profession.

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Needed at Purim: another act of courage

Ira Lacher: Jews have not, can not, and must not support people whose mission is to undermine everything that has made the United States of America a haven for Jews.

The following is a copy of an email I sent to someone I know at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). This organization, which calls itself a “bipartisan American organization that advocates for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship,” recently has become anything but.

“AIPAC slammed for endorsing Republicans who refused to certify Biden’s election,” reported The Times of Israel.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency headlined: “AIPAC’s PAC endorses dozens of Republicans who refused to certify Joe Biden as president.”

And the fiercely pro-Israel Jerusalem Post, owned by the right-wing Murdoch clan that owns Fox News, noted: “AIPAC’s PAC endorses dozens of Republicans who refused to certify Joe Biden as president.” The article, which reported that the group endorsed 59 Democrats and 61 Republicans, included “Jim Jordan of Ohio, was prominent in the events surrounding the Jan. 6 insurrection.”

I know a young man who has a prominent position in AIPAC. I was honored to be present at his bar mitzvah, I remain good friends with his family, and, as such, I had to write him personally about this. What follows is the text of my email to him. I have deleted his name and position because I know that, in this stupid age, people mistakenly believe they have the right to harass someone they disagree with.

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Iowa lawmakers should reject bad bill on appraisals (updated)

James C. Larew is an attorney in Iowa City who served as general counsel and chief of staff for former Governor Chet Culver. House File 2299 cleared the Iowa House unanimously last month and is scheduled to be considered in an Iowa Senate Commerce subcommittee on March 7.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” 

House File 2299, a bill aimed to deprive Appraisal Panels from determining the causes of insured losses, by amending Iowa’s longstanding, so-called, “standard fire contract,” located at Iowa Code section 515.109, is a fix for something that is not broken. It should not be approved.

Nearly sixty years ago, Iowa lawmakers wisely adopted a successful provision of New York law, which had provided home and business insurance policyholders with a low-cost, efficient means by which they could obtain full indemnification for their insured losses without need, in most cases, to file lawsuits.

More than forty other states have since adopted the New York-based alternative dispute resolution Appraisal process, under which contentious disputes over insurance claim valuations might be resolved.

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