# Pat Grassley



How far can Iowa Republicans go to ban abortion?

The worst-case scenario for bodily autonomy in Iowa played out over the past ten days. First, the Iowa Supreme Court on June 17 overturned its own 2018 precedent that established a fundamental right to abortion, protected by the state constitution. Then, the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24 overturned the 1973 Roe v Wade decision that established a federal constitutional right to an abortion, and the related Casey decision of 1992.

Top Iowa Republicans immediately promised further action to restrict abortion, which is now legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. It’s not yet clear when they will try to pass a new law, which exceptions (if any) may be on the table, or whether a ban modeled on other state laws could survive an Iowa court challenge.

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Six terrible bills Iowa Republicans didn't pass in 2022

After a hectic two days at the capitol, the Iowa House and Senate finished their work for the year shortly after midnight on May 25.

In the coming days, Bleeding Heartland will cover some of the final bills in detail. As usual, there were a few surprises in the “standings” bill, such as a provision expanding open enrollment from public schools. While Democrats opposed many bills sent to Governor Kim Reynolds this week, including a ban on COVID-19 vaccine requirements for schools or child care centers, they welcomed one of the last-minute proposals, which exempts diapers and period products from Iowa’s sales tax.

This piece will focus on bills that didn’t make it through, despite a push from Reynolds or top Republican lawmakers.

I anticipate future legislative battles over most if not all of these proposals. Earlier this year, the governor signed into law two priority items that failed to advance in 2021: a measure banning transgender Iowans from girls’ and women’s sports, and deep cuts to unemployment benefits.

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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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"Frankenstein bill" produces rare defeat for Iowa House GOP

You don’t see this every day—or every year. Despite having a 60 to 40 majority, Iowa House Republicans lost a floor vote this week on a high priority bill for GOP leaders.

Controlling the calendar is one of the most important powers of the majority party. Nothing comes to the Iowa House floor unless Speaker Pat Grassley and Majority Leader Matt Windschitl want members to vote on it. Leaders typically don’t bring up any legislation unless they are confident they have the votes to pass it.

On March 16, Grassley thought he had 51 votes for a mash-up of two controversial bills. But his ability to count (and to persuade reluctant members of his caucus) fell short.

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Who's who in the Iowa House for 2022

The Iowa House opened its 2022 session on January 10 with 60 Republicans and 40 Democrats, a one-seat gain for the GOP compared to last year, thanks to a special election last fall.

The House members include 69 men and 31 women (21 Democrats and ten Republicans), down from a record 34 women in 2019 and 33 women in 2020.

Six African Americans (Democrats Ako Abdul-Samad, Ruth Ann Gaines, Ras Smith, Phyllis Thede, and Ross Wilburn, and Republican Eddie Andrews) serve in the legislature’s lower chamber. Republican Mark Cisneros is the first Latino elected to the Iowa legislature, and Republican Henry Stone is only the second Asian American to serve in the House. The other 92 state representatives are white.

Democrat Liz Bennett is the only out LGBTQ member of the Iowa House. To my knowledge, Abdul-Samad (who is Muslim) is the only lawmaker in either chamber to practice a religion other than Christianity.

I’ve posted details below on the Iowa House majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing House committees. Where relevant, I’ve noted changes since last year’s session. The most significant: Republican Mike Bousselot won a September special election following the death of Republican John Landon, and Republican Jon Dunwell won an October special election after Democrat Wes Breckenridge left the legislature for another job.

Some non-political trivia: the Iowa House has two members with the surname Meyer (a Democrat and a Republican). As for popular first names, there are six Davids (three go by Dave), three Roberts (a Rob, a Bob, and a Bobby), three men named Tom or Thomas, three named Steve or Steven, three named Charles (a Chuck and two Charlies), three Brians, three men named Michael (two go by Mike), three Jons and two Johns, and two men each named Gary, Dennis, and Ross. There are also two Elizabeths (a Beth and a Liz), two Shannons, an Ann and an Anne, and two women named Mary (down from four in 2020).

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Iowa Republicans still pandering to COVID-19 deniers

Iowa’s COVID-19 cases are exploding, and leaders of major hospital systems and clinics are pleading with the public to get vaccinated and take other precautions, including “masking up—even if you’re vaccinated.”

Meanwhile, Governor Kim Reynolds and top Republican lawmakers prioritize the concerns of those who refuse to do the bare minimum to combat the state’s third leading cause of death over the past two years.

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