The 19 Bleeding Heartland posts I worked hardest on in 2019

Five years ago, I started taking stock of my most labor-intensive posts near the end of each year. Not all of these are my favorite projects, though invariably, some of my favorites end up on these compilations.

Before getting to the countdown for 2019, I want to give another shout out to guest authors who poured an extraordinary amount of work into two posts Bleeding Heartland published last year.

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Iowa needs one insurance plan for all public employees

Randy Richardson argues that it’s time to revive an idea first proposed for public school districts four decades ago. -promoted by Laura Belin

When I started teaching in 1976, I received fully paid family health insurance as part of my benefits package. That coverage included a $100/$200 deductible. Although this was considered to be a “Cadillac plan,” it was not uncommon to find similar coverage at schools across Iowa. The teachers in my district felt this insurance plan was very important and, over the years, often sacrificed salary increases to keep the coverage.

Shortly after I left the district in 1996, one of my former co-workers was diagnosed with a serious illness and claims from that incident ran well into six figures. Insurance premiums skyrocketed and, in an effort to keep premiums at a reasonable level, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses increased.

Today that district offers a high deductible insurance plan with a single deductible of $3,250 and a family deductible of $6,500. Teachers in that district who wish to have family coverage must contribute more than $1,000 per month to receive that coverage. That alone would be tragic. Even worse, the same scenario has played out in every school district in the state.

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The 19 most-viewed Bleeding Heartland posts of 2019

Chasing traffic never has been and never will be my primary goal for Bleeding Heartland. If it were, I’d publish weekly posts about puppies or Casey’s pizza instead of Iowa wildflowers.

And anyone who has worked on an online news source can vouch for me: a writer’s favorite projects are often not the ones that get the most clicks.

Still, people do ask me from time what posts tend to do well, and I find it fun at year-end to recap the pieces that were particularly popular with readers. Since I started this exercise a few years ago, I’ve always uncovered some surprises.

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Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2019 guest authors

More than 125 authors contributed to the 290 guest posts Bleeding Heartland published this calendar year–way up from the 202 pieces by about 100 writers in 2018 and the 164 posts by 83 writers the year before that. I’m immensely grateful for all the hard work that went into these articles and commentaries and have linked to them all below.

You will find scoops grounded in original research, such as John Morrissey’s exclusive reporting on Sedgwick landing a lucrative contract to administer Iowa’s worker’s compensation program for state employee, despite not submitting the high bid.

The most-viewed Bleeding Heartland post this year was Gwen Hope’s exclusive about the the Hy-Vee PAC donating $25,000 to the Iowa GOP, shortly before President Donald Trump headlined a Republican fundraiser at Hy-Vee’s event center in West Des Moines.

Several commentaries about major news events or political trends were also among the most widely read Bleeding Heartland posts of 2019. I’ve noted below pieces by Ed Fallon, Tim Nelson, Bruce Lear, Randy Richardson, J.D. Scholten, Dan Guild, State Senator Claire Celsi, and others that were especially popular. (This site has run more than 630 pieces since January 1.)

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Action: Public comments needed on Iowa's Impaired Waters List

John Norwood is a Polk County Soil and Water Commissioner. Readers can email comments to Dan Kendall at daniel.kendall@dnr.iowa.gov or mail them to the address enclosed at the end of this post. -promoted by Laura Belin

Friends, Polk County Residents, Iowans,

Below, please find public comments I filed with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) last week on our 2018 Impaired Waters List. The public comment period closes December 28.

My most important takeaway and message to Iowans is that our impaired waters need to be addressed by first, modernizing the vision for our state’s agricultural “machine,” and second, looking at how to support that new vision through systems, conservation infrastructure, policies and practices, and local, regional, national, or international markets.

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