# Roby Smith



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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Smith outraising Fitzgerald in treasurer's race. Will it matter?

State Senator Roby Smith is on track to outspend State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, if the latest reports filed with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board are any guide.

A news release from the Republican’s campaign boasted that its donations, totaling $213,391.15 so far this election cycle, “have set an all-time record” for a candidate for Iowa state treasurer. Smith raised substantially more than Fitzgerald during the latest reporting period and had nearly three times as much cash on hand.

But it would be premature to conclude, as Smith’s news release asserted, “Our historic fundraising number and Fitzgerald’s lack of support shows Iowans are clearly ready for change.”

Each candidate takes advantages into what could be Iowa’s most competitive state treasurer’s race in four decades.

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What the Supreme Court said—and didn't say—in Finkenauer case

The Iowa Supreme Court surprised many in the political and legal worlds on April 15 with a unanimous judgment reinstating U.S. Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer to the Democratic primary ballot.

Five justices resolved an apparent contradiction between two parts of Iowa’s election law by saying an incorrect or missing date is not a valid reason for not counting a signature on a candidate’s petition. They reversed a Polk County District Court, which days earlier reached the opposite conclusion: that an undated signature cannot be counted, and therefore Finkenauer did not qualify for the ballot.

Two justices concurred with the outcome of reversing the lower court but did not explain their reasoning.

The result was a big loss for Republican plaintiffs who challenged the State Objection Panel’s decision to let three disputed signatures on Finkenauer’s petitions stand. It’s also an embarrassment for Republican legislators who moved last year to limit the panel’s discretion.

By deciding this case on narrow grounds, the Iowa Supreme Court left some big legal questions to be adjudicated another election year.

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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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Lopsided governor's race imperils whole Democratic ticket

The filing deadline for campaign finance disclosures is always an exciting day for political reporters. My plan for this week was to write a series of posts about fundraising and spending for each of Iowa’s statewide races: governor, attorney general, state treasurer, secretary of state, state auditor, and secretary of agriculture.

I shifted gears after reviewing the latest reports for Governor Kim Reynolds and Deidre DeJear, the only Democrat actively campaigning for governor.

Unless things change dramatically in the coming months, Reynolds will be able to use most of her war chest to help down-ballot Republicans.

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