# State Legislature



Exclusive: Labor relations board shifts staff, cases to other agency. Is it legal?

Iowa’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) is transferring most of its staff and caseload to the state Department of Inspections and Appeals.

Since the mid-1970s, PERB members and administrative law judges have adjudicated labor disputes within state and local government or school districts. Following the changes, administrative law judges now working for PERB will handle other matters, while other employees at Inspections and Appeals will hear cases that were previously in PERB’s jurisdiction.

State officials have not announced the changes, which are scheduled to take effect on September 30. It’s not clear who initiated or authorized the plan. Staff in the governor’s office and Department of Inspections and Appeals did not respond to any of Bleeding Heartland’s inquiries over the past three weeks. PERB members Erik Helland and Cheryl Arnold likewise did not reply to several emails.

State Senator Nate Boulton, a Democrat with extensive experience as a labor attorney, has asked Attorney General Tom Miller for an official opinion on whether “it is an illegal shift of an essential PERB duty” to assign its responsibilities “to an unrelated state agency.”

Boulton also asked Miller to weigh in on the legality of Governor Kim Reynolds’ recent appointments to PERB. As Bleeding Heartland previously reported, Reynolds has circumvented the Senate confirmation process by keeping one of the three PERB positions unfilled, so she can name her preferred candidates to a vacant slot while the legislature is not in session.

Continue Reading...

Republicans spending big on Des Moines area legislative races

The Republican Party of Iowa has reserved more than $1.1 million in television air time for six candidates seeking Iowa legislative seats in the Des Moines metro area, and will likely spend hundreds of thousands more to promote them on television during the final stretch of the campaign.

Documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission show the GOP plans to spend more than $650,000 on broadcast tv supporting Jake Chapman and Mike Bousselot, who are running in the party’s top two central Iowa Senate targets.

The party also will spend six-figure sums on tv ads for four Iowa House candidates in Polk or Dallas counties, whose commercials began airing last week.

Those numbers do not include any funds the GOP will spend on direct mail, radio, or digital advertising for the same candidates.

This post focuses on early tv spending on legislative races in the Des Moines market. Forthcoming Bleeding Heartland posts will survey other battleground Iowa House or Senate districts.

Continue Reading...

Iowa House Democrats endorse legal weed

One of these things is not like the others.

Three parts of the Iowa House Democrats’ “People over Politics” agenda will sound familiar to anyone who has followed legislative debates over the past decade. The minority party, which now holds 40 of the 100 House seats, will fight to raise wages and lower costs for essentials like housing and child care, protect reproductive freedom, and invest more resources in public schools.

The fourth part of the Democrats’ campaign platform is new: for the first time, an Iowa legislative caucus advocates legalizing adult use of marijuana.

Continue Reading...

Iowa Libertarians opt out of federal, most statewide races: What it means

Iowa’s filing period for the 2022 general election closed on August 27 with no third-party candidate qualified for the ballot in any federal race, or any statewide race other than for governor and lieutenant governor.

The landscape could hardly be more different from four years ago, when the Libertarian Party of Iowa fielded a full slate of federal and statewide candidates, and no-party candidates also competed in three of the four U.S. House districts.

The lack of a third-party presence could be important if any of Iowa’s Congressional or statewide elections are close contests.

Continue Reading...

Long-term attacks on public schools

Bruce Lear reviews a new worrying line of attack on educators coming out of Republican-controlled states.

As a kid, I loved fishing off the dock because it assured immediate action, since I could catch tiny fish as fast as my worm hit the water.

But my dad practiced real fishing. He’d pack a lunch and fish in a small boat all day, even if nothing but mosquitoes were biting. He was in it for the long term, and it paid off with big catches. If he didn’t catch anything one day, he’d try again the next. He understood big catches took patience.

Like my dad’s long-term fishing, Republicans understand culture wars aren’t about instant gratification. The best example is their 49-year battle against Roe v Wade. They eventually found a right-wing majority on the Supreme Court brazen enough to overturn settled law and rob women of privacy and thus choice.

But the new front in the culture war is clearly public education. The hard right seems determined to chip away through multiple avenues of attack. 

Continue Reading...

Board to scrap proposed open records rules, for now

UPDATE: The Iowa Public Information Board voted on August 18 not to proceed with these draft rules. They may look at open records rules again in the future but did not schedule a date for beginning the process. Original post follows.

The Iowa Public Information Board will not move forward with proposed administrative rules regarding open records requests, the board’s executive director Margaret Johnson told members of the Iowa legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee on July 19. Instead, the board’s rules committee will consider feedback next month and put the matter on the agenda for the full board’s September meeting.

Board members have not yet determined whether to let the proposed rule die by taking no action, or whether to post a formal notice of termination. Nor have they decided whether to draft a new version of open records rules after scrapping their first effort.

Johnson said the board had heard from eight speakers at a public hearing on July 11 and received nineteen written comments on the draft rule. (Board staff provided copies of those comments to Bleeding Heartland.)

When summarizing for state lawmakers the criticism the information board received, Johnson did not mention transparency advocates’ concerns about language that would create new excuses for officials wanting to delay providing records. Rather, she highlighted three objections offered by those representing government bodies.

Continue Reading...
View More...