J.D. Scholten to help Democrats "up our game in rural America"

“Right now, Democratic policies are very popular,” said J.D. Scholten in a video revealing his future plans. “However, they’re being drowned [out] by mis- and disinformation. We have to remember that we’re just a handful of states and under 100,000 votes from a Donald Trump second term and a Republican-controlled House and Senate.”

Many Iowa Democrats–including Scholten’s own parents–saw the two-time Congressional candidate as a possible 2022 contender for U.S. Senate. Others encouraged him to run for governor. But Scholten announced on July 13 that he won’t run for any elected office next year. Instead, he will serve as the executive director of RuralVote.org, a super-PAC with a mission “to improve the Democratic brand in rural communities and empower local advocates to battle misinformation in their communities.”

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Iowa vaccination rates still show racial, geographical disparities

Racial disparities in Iowa’s COVID-19 vaccinations have narrowed during the eight weeks since all adults became eligible to get a shot. However, even with many vaccination sites now accepting walk-ins, reducing barriers associated with online scheduling, people of color and especially Black and Latino Iowans have received fewer doses per capita than white people.

In addition, county-level data show a wide gap between the Iowa counties with the highest and lowest vaccination rates. As in most other states, vaccination rates appear to be correlated with political and demographic features. Residents of more urban and more Democratic counties are more likely to be vaccinated than those living in rural and heavily Republican areas.

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Rural broadband: A mirage

Dan Piller: Far from rescuing rural Iowa, more broadband will hasten the exodus from farms and small towns into the cities. -promoted by Laura Belin

Everybody loves the idea of spending billions of tax dollars to wire the countryside with high speed broadband that is otherwise economically unfeasible. President Donald Trump took a few minutes away from trying to overturn the election last December to reward his loyal rural supporters with $10 billion for the high-speed internet access. President Joe Biden wants to set aside billions more for rural broadband in his “infrastructure” master plan.

In Iowa, Democrats are so cowed by the popularity of rural broadband they’ve acquiesced to Governor Kim Reynolds’ idea to let rural interests help themselves to hundreds of millions of state taxpayer dollars, mostly paid by Iowa’s city dwellers who amount to two-thirds of the state’s population, for rural broadband even though rural broadband will thus join anti-abortion and unlimited gun rights as Reynolds’ calling card to her rural base for her reelection next year.

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Iowa redistricting predictions, part 3: Legislative overview

Evan Burger speculates on how statutory requirements for drawing new Iowa House and Senate districts could impact partisan control of the legislature during the 2020s. -promoted by Laura Belin

Last month, I wrote about the rules governing Iowa’s Congressional redistricting process, and made some predictions. For this post, I’ll do the same for the legislative side of redistricting – but first, a quick mention of two related developments since my last piece. 

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Cutting unemployment during pandemic is immoral, wrong

Charlie Wishman is president of the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO. -promoted by Laura Belin

The COVID-19 pandemic has been not only a public health disaster, but also an economic disaster. Many Iowans have experienced filing for unemployment for the first time this past year. As a result, many now realize just how important this lifeline can be for working people and their families. 

You can tell a lot about what kind of legislature we collectively elected by looking at how lawmakers respond to the economic disaster that is COVID-19. Right now, the Republican-controlled Iowa House and Senate are moving a bill forward that would reduce unemployment benefits, inexplicably, during a global pandemic. 

Are we as a state going to continue to allow the rich to stuff their pockets during this pandemic while families suffer? Or worse, will we actively encourage it? Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening now.

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