Three notable Iowa events that happened on July 4

Independence Day was established to celebrate the July 4, 1776 vote by the Second Continental Congress to adopt Declaration of Independence. But many other noteworthy historical events also happened on this day. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826. New York state abolished slavery on this day in 1827.

July 4 has also been a significant date in Iowa history. Two of the events described below happened within the lifetimes of many Bleeding Heartland readers.

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Iowa lawmakers had their chance. Now governor should issue voting rights order

“Let them vote! Let them vote!” Black Lives Matter protesters chanted a few minutes after Governor Kim Reynolds signed a police reform bill on June 12. Reynolds did not acknowledge hearing them, continuing to pass out pens to advocates of the legislation, which the Iowa House and Senate had unanimously approved the night before.

The protesters want the governor to sign an executive order automatically restoring voting rights to Iowans who have completed felony sentences. Iowa has the country’s strictest felon voting ban, which disproportionately disenfranchises African Americans. Reynolds has resisted calls to issue an executive order, saying she wants the legislature to approve a state constitutional amendment on felon voting instead.

The Iowa legislature adjourned for the year on June 14 without the constitutional amendment clearing the Senate.

For many thousands of Iowans with felony convictions, an order from Reynolds provides the only path to voting before 2024. She should issue one as soon as possible.

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Republicans have underfunded Iowa's State Hygienic Lab for years

Staff at Iowa’s State Hygienic Laboratory have been working around the clock to process tests that reveal the scope of the novel coronavirus epidemic. Governor Kim Reynolds has often lauded their “yeoman’s work” at her daily news conferences.

But as former Vice President Joe Biden famously said, “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” In real terms, state support for a facility critical to Iowa’s COVID-19 response dropped considerably over the last decade.

The Iowa legislature hasn’t increased dollars allocated to the State Hygienic Lab since 2013, when Senate Democrats insisted on doing so. Not only has state funding failed to keep up with inflation since then, the laboratory’s annual appropriation has yet to recover from a mid-year budget cut in 2018.

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This Old House

Paul W. Johnson is a preacher’s kid, former Peace Corps Volunteer, former state legislator, former chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Service/Natural Resources Conservation Service, former director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and a retired farmer. -promoted by Laura Belin

As my life’s journey winds down, I often wake at night and mull over the wonderful life this world, my country, my state, my community, and my friends and family have given me.  Music has been an important part of my life. 

The gospel songs I learned in church, the country and western and pop music of the 1950s came first. Then came classical music.  Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto in D – tense, boisterous, serene. It could be the theme music of my life. Or the theme music of the 300-year-old white oaks in our woods. Or of the Monarch butterflies that stop by our prairies in fall and feast on the nectar of the late-blooming asters before the north winds send them on a wild ride to their winter hangouts in the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico.

Recently Stuart Hamblen’s song of the 1950s, This Old House, has washed over me. It goes, “Ain’t a gonna need this house no longer, Ain’t a gonna need this house no more.” 

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Why this Republican will caucus for Pete Buttigieg

Bill Jackson: “Mayors can’t talk, study and wait. If problems appear, they have to deal with them.” -promoted by Laura Belin

I’m a lifelong Republican who served in the administrations of former Governors Robert Ray and Terry Branstad. I was proud and privileged to do so because of my respect for them, and for my regard of the principles of the party we represented.

The reality is that the Republican Party left me years ago with the election of Donald Trump. He doesn’t believe in the need to balance budgets, to have a foreign policy based on collaboration with world partners, or the importance of treating others whom he dislikes or disagrees with basic decency. These things, and the fact that his words and actions have led to a horribly divided country and to a world with less respect for American leadership, all lead me to look for a different kind of person to lead this nation.

On February 3, I’m switching my party registration to Democrat and caucusing for Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

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