2019 Iowa legislative recap: Constitutional amendments

Bleeding Heartland continues to catch up on the legislature’s significant actions during the session that ended on April 27. Previous posts related to the work of the Iowa House or Senate can be found here.

Republicans showed little interest in amending the Iowa Constitution during the 2019 session. Only one amendment passed both chambers. If and when that proposal appears on a statewide ballot, it will spark a costly and divisive campaign about gun rights and regulations.

The Senate and House debate over the pro-gun amendment is the focus of the first half of this post. Arguments raised on both sides will surely return in future television commercials and mass mailings.

The rest of the post reviews this year’s unsuccessful attempts to change the constitution. One amendment (backed by Governor Kim Reynolds) made it through the Iowa House, and four others advanced from a House or Senate committee but did not come up for a floor vote. The rest did not get through a committee, even though some of the same ideas went further last year.

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Iowa Privatized Medicaid: It Has Been A Disaster. Here’s Why.

By Simon Davis-Cohen for Tarbell.org

This is a reprint from Tarbell.org, a news website pioneering journalism that reveals who runs America and empowers readers with solutions. Read this on Tarbell.org.

If you have any feedback on this piece, please contact Tarbell’s engagement editor, Danielle Keeton-Olsen, at danielle@tarbell.org.

In 2016, Iowa privatized Medicaid under then-Governor Terry Branstad. He was a founding member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). “Obamacare” is often attacked by the David and Charles Koch-backed group that opposes government action in health care or the economy.

Branstad claimed outsourcing Medicaid would save the state and taxpayers money. However, Iowa has not been able to provide any data that shows privatization saved the state money. In fact, privatization is now costing Iowa money. (Branstad resigned the governorship in 2017 to become the U.S. Ambassador to China.)

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IA-01: First thoughts on a possible Rod Blum-Abby Finkenauer rematch

Thomas Nelson of the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier was first to report last week that former U.S. Representative Rod Blum’s campaign has spent $11,365 on polling this year. Blum’s quarterly filing with the Federal Election Commission showed two disbursements to the candidate’s longtime pollster in early January.

The payments exceeded the $4,119 Blum for Congress owed The Polling Company at the end of December, indicating that Blum commissioned new surveys in the first district and wasn’t merely settling debts left over from the 2018 campaign.

While I have not been able to find details about the questions asked, his campaign likely tested voters’ views on key issues as well as approval and favorability numbers for himself and Representative Abby Finkenauer. Blum hasn’t ruled out running for office again. Nelson noted that he appeared at a Jones County GOP event on April 11.

No Republican has confirmed plans to run against Finkenauer. I see Blum as a weaker challenger than State Representative Ashley Hinson, who has said she’s considering the race and will make her intentions known after the legislative session ends.

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A 2 percent solution to a nonexistent problem

ISU economist Dave Swenson exposes how a Republican property tax bill relies on flawed assumptions and would make the “important job of governing harder” for cities and counties. -promoted by Laura Belin

It is a common canard among the anti-property taxers that city and county governments, those closest to the electorate, are gouging unsuspecting taxpayers. It is their rallying lament, and it requires no substantiation, just confident assertion.

As is frequently the case with made-up woes like this, Iowa House Republicans have a solution. The remedy is House Study Bill 165, a bill to place limits on city and county government property tax growth.

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Public education lines have been drawn. Time to pick a side

State Senator Claire Celsi: “Governor Reynolds has chosen private schools over the public schools 92 percent of Iowa’s children attend.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Governor Kim Reynolds’ private school and voucher activism has gone from coy to brazen. Simply entertaining “Secretary of Education” Betsy DeVos at the state capitol is a signal. Reynolds has never been a credible supporter of public education and now has publicly chosen a side. She chooses the 8 percent of Iowans whose kids attend private schools over the 92 percent who attend public schools. Reynolds has thrown down the gauntlet.

Now, an important question for you. Yes, YOU. Sitting in your comfy chair reading this post. Do you support Iowa’s public schools – or not? Time to make a decision.

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Tax our trust funds

Sable Knapp is from Iowa and currently lives in Maine. She is a member of Resource Generation, “a multiracial membership community of young people (18-35) with wealth and/or class privilege committed to the equitable distribution of wealth, land, and power.” -promoted by Laura Belin

The United States is currently experiencing a $30 trillion intergenerational wealth transfer. For anyone still wondering how the U.S.A. could possibly afford a Green New Deal with a framework that includes a single-payer health care system and accessible higher education, there is an obvious way: Stop handing out tax breaks to us trust fund babies.

Please, vote to tax my inheritance. The estate tax makes sense.

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