Loretta Sieman on the public option and why she's in that ad

Industry-funded groups have recently spent more than a million dollars on television and online advertising in Iowa opposing Democratic plans to expand access to health insurance.

Some ads primarily focus on single-payer plans (often known as Medicare for All), which more than half a dozen presidential candidates are supporting. But Partnership for America’s Health Care Future has used its hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Des Moines market targeting more modest proposals to offer a “public option” on exchanges selling private health insurance policies.

Many central Iowa Democratic activists were surprised and upset to see Loretta Sieman, a longtime West Des Moines city council member, in one of the partnership’s commercials. Sieman spoke to Bleeding Heartland on September 11 about why she opposes the public option and why she agreed to appear in the ad, now in heavy rotation on YouTube as well as Des Moines broadcast and cable stations.

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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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Bill Dix was never as smart as he thought he was

Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix’s eighteen-year legislative career ended today after Iowa Starting Line published a video and photographs showing Dix and a lobbyist snuggling in a Des Moines bar on March 1. The majority leader did not comment on the alleged relationship in any statement to the media or in his resignation letter.

State lawmakers having affairs with lobbyists is hardly a new phenomenon, but given the potential for abuse of power, as well as the massive media coverage of the sexual harassment problem in the Iowa Senate GOP caucus, you’d think Dix would avoid having such an intimate conversation in public.

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Five takeaways from the Iowa legislature's opening day in 2018

The Iowa House and Senate convened Monday with the usual big promises and platitudes about working together to build a better future for Iowans.

Behind the optimistic rhetoric, all signs point to another contentious legislative session. The opening day speeches by Republican and Democratic leaders, enclosed in full below, revealed almost no common ground about the focus of lawmakers’ work and no indication that the most important bills will incorporate Democratic ideas. My takeaways:

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Sexual harassment investigator had warned Iowa senators about clerks' attire

Secretary of the Iowa Senate Charlie Smithson has sometimes encouraged senators to “tell your clerk to wear something different” if a female clerk’s short skirt or top was attracting attention from older male lawmakers, he told an audience earlier this year.

Smithson’s handling of concerns about clerks’ attire raises further questions about whether he was the right person to investigate alleged sexual harassment within the Senate Republican caucus.

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No wonder Bill Dix wanted to bury the GOP sexual harassment investigation

Less than two weeks ago, Iowa Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix led journalists to believe there was no written report from the internal investigation of sexual harassment in the Senate GOP caucus.

Senate leaders arranged to have a redacted version of that report (addressed to Dix’s attention and dated August 15) published the day after Thanksgiving, when few Iowans would be paying attention to political news.

No wonder the original plan was to keep these findings secret: they reveal ongoing problems in the workplace as well as inherent flaws of an in-house investigation.

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