Five things that are not "fairness"

Governor Kim Reynolds thrilled conservatives when she announced on Fox News last week that she wants to sign a bill banning transgender youth from competing on sports teams not matching their gender assigned at birth.

Defending the discriminatory policy during a news conference on May 5, Reynolds claimed five times that concerns about “fairness” are driving her commitment to address the issue.

This mean-spirited play to the GOP base has several dimensions. None of them are grounded in fairness.

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In unprecedented move, Iowa Senate GOP bypasses budget subcommittees

Passing a budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 is the most important unfinished business for the Iowa legislature’s regular 2021 session. But House and Senate Republican leaders haven’t found consensus on spending targets for several large pieces of the roughly $8 billion state budget.

In a move without precedent in decades, Senate Republicans declined this this year to participate in the joint appropriations subcommittees where lawmakers review and discuss agency spending requests. Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver and Appropriations Committee chair Tim Kraayenbrink did not respond to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiries about who made the decision or why.

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Kim Reynolds bets big on the conservative base

It was certainly a good Friday for Iowans who want to buy handguns but can’t pass a background check.

Governor Kim Reynolds signed House File 756, making permits optional for buying handguns or carrying concealed weapons in Iowa, and House File 621, shielding firearms manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits related to gun violence.

Although Reynolds had postured as undecided on the permitless carry bill, telling reporters her staff would review the legislation carefully, I didn’t talk to any political insider in either party who had any doubt she would sign it. The only question was when. The answer turned out to be, right before the Easter holiday weekend, when fewer people would notice.

Republican lawmakers helped the governor out, waiting nearly two weeks to send her the gun bills, so she wouldn’t have to sign them while mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado were still dominating the national news. (While the Iowa legislature is in session, the governor must decide within three days whether to sign or veto bills on her desk.)

Making it easier for Iowans to buy guns with no screening or training might seem like a risky political move, given the overwhelming popular support for mandatory background checks and Reynolds’ past claims to support permits. The governor is clearly betting that pleasing the gun lobby–just about the only supporters of this legislation–will pay off in the next election.

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The majority should never decide minority rights

On this Transgender Day of Visibility, I want to take a moment to reflect on one part of Selzer & Co’s latest Iowa poll for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom. The survey asked 775 Iowa adults whether they supported various Republican proposals, including this one: “Require public school students to use the restroom of the gender assigned at birth even if the student does not identify as that gender now.”

Nick Coltrain summarized the findings: 47 percent of respondents said they favor restricting school bathroom use, 42 percent opposed, and 11 percent were not sure.

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Three reasons Kim Reynolds should veto permitless carry

Amber Gustafson is a graduate student at Drake University, an Ankeny mom of three, and a gun safety advocate. -promoted by Laura Belin

Earlier this week, the Iowa Senate passed House File 756, a bill that would make handgun carry permits and background checks on unlicensed sales optional for residents of the state.

Having cleared the Iowa House on March 17, the bill now moves to Governor Kim Reynolds’ desk. At this writing, she has not signed it.

At a March 24 press conference, she waffled when asked about her plans for the bill, calling for a “holistic approach” to gun violence prevention.

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