Pandering on police budgets won't save Democrats from bad-faith GOP attacks

Some bills are designed to solve real problems, some create the appearance of solving a real problem, and others just cue up attack ads.

So it was with Senate File 479, which passed on March 10 with a large bipartisan majority even though no organizations are lobbying for it.

The bill would make local governments “ineligible to receive any state funds” if they reduced a law enforcement agency’s budget by a larger percentage than the reduction in the government entity’s total budget. While floor managing the measure, Republican State Senator Chris Cournoyer said, “This is not the time to cut funding” for law enforcement. She claimed the bill would “keep our communities and our citizens safe” and asked colleagues to “show their strong support for law enforcement with a yes vote.”

Ten Democrats–Tony Bisignano, Nate Boulton, Bill Dotzler, Eric Giddens, Kevin Kinney, Jim Lykam, Liz Mathis, Amanda Ragan, Jackie Smith, and Todd Taylor–joined the 31 Republicans present to approve the legislation.

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Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2021

The Iowa Senate convened for its 2021 session on January 11 with 31 Republicans, eighteen Democrats, and one vacancy in the district formerly represented by Mariannette Miller-Meeks. A record twelve senators are women (seven Democrats and five Republicans), up from eleven women in the chamber last year and double the six who served prior to 2018.

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. A few committees have new Republican leaders.

All current state senators are white. 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 chamber, and Iowa’s only Asian-American senator was Swati Dandekar, who resigned in 2011.

Some non-political trivia: the 50 Iowa senators include two Smiths, a Democrat and a Republican. As for first names, there are three Jeffs, three Zachs, and two men each named Craig, Mark, Dan, Jim, and Tim.

UPDATE: Republican Adrian Dickey won the January 26 special election to represent Senate district 41, giving the GOP a 32-18 majority. After he’s sworn in, I’ll note his committee assignments below.

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What the Iowa Democratic Party needs to do ASAP

Amber Gustafson is a progressive activist and was the 2018 Democratic candidate in Iowa Senate district 19. -promoted by Laura Belin

Dear Fellow Iowa Democrats,

It’s a new year and with that comes new perspectives and new outlooks.

In November of 2020, I put my name forward to run for Iowa Democratic Party chair and with it I shared a plan to help our party regain our footing in our state. It was with determination and optimism that I stepped forward to offer my services to our party. But since my initial announcement, my family’s circumstances have come to bear on my plans for 2021.

It is with great regret that I have chosen to withdraw my name for consideration as chair of the Iowa Democratic Party.

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Iowa Senate Democrats' wrongheaded thinking

Jon Green is a former mayor of Lone Tree, where he resides. He works in information technology. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Iowa Senate Democratic caucus has penis problems.

To wit: State Senator Nate Boulton. During his 2018 gubernatorial bid, Boulton was credibly accused of sexually assaulting three women. Brianne Pfannenstiel of the Des Moines Register broke the story. Pfannenstiel, quoting Boulton:

“I don’t have the same recollection,” he told the Register. “But I am not going to offer any additional context to this, other than to say if someone’s perspective is that it was inappropriate and I crossed a line and I misread a situation in a social setting, I do apologize.”

He declined to comment on or discuss the specific incidents, saying, “I think if I add context it quickly becomes victim-blaming, and I don’t want to go down that path.”

Only a lawyer could find that statement satisfying. While Boulton did drop out of the governor’s race soon after, he retained his Iowa Senate seat.

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Nate Boulton and the party that promoted him

Sydney Devine reacts to the Iowa Senate Democratic caucus electing State Senator Nate Boulton as one of five assistant minority leaders last month. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Iowa Democratic Party has failed me. As a reliable Democratic voter who supports women’s issues, why should I continue to be a Democrat? I remember when Nate Boulton suspended his campaign for governor when multiple women came forward, as published in the Des Moines Register, and shared stories of egregious sexual misconduct – reports verified by an eyewitness in one case.

There are so many passionate Democrats who can unite and engage progressives. We simply do not need Boulton, or harassers like him. But how does the party respond? They promote him to Senate leadership. How does the party not find someone to challenge him in the primary?

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Record number of women will serve in Iowa Senate; fewer elected to House

Second in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2020 state and federal elections.

The non-profit 50-50 in 2020 dissolved early this year after working for a decade to increase women’s representation in Iowa politics. Although our state has elected a woman governor, a woman to the U.S. Senate (twice), and will have women representing three of the the four Congressional districts for the next two years, we have a long way to go toward parity in the Iowa legislature.

When lawmakers convene in Des Moines in January, women will make up one-quarter of the Iowa Senate for the first time. However, the number of women serving in the House will drop below one-third of the chamber.

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