Iowa lawmakers pass another unconstitutional "Ag Gag" bill

Iowa legislators just can’t quit violating the constitution in the service of livestock farmers and their lobby groups.

Two months after a federal judge comprehensively dismantled Iowa’s 2012 law prohibiting “agricultural production facility fraud,” the state House and Senate approved a bill creating the crime of “agricultural production facility trespass.” Governor Kim Reynolds has indicated she will sign the legislation. (UPDATE: She signed it on March 14.)

Although the drafters modeled the new bill after portions of an Idaho statute that survived a legal challenge, federal courts could and should strike down this law. Like the previous “ag gag” legislation, its primary purpose is to suppress speech reflecting certain viewpoints.

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Who's who in the Iowa House for 2019

The Iowa House opened its 2019 session today with 54 Republicans and 46 Democrats. State Representative Michael Bergan was sworn in for a second term, even though his Democratic opponent Kayla Koether is contesting the outcome. A special committee will consider her complaint in the coming weeks.

The new state representatives include 66 men and 34 women (24 Democrats and ten Republicans, record numbers for both parties).

Four African Americans (Democrats Ako Abdul-Samad, Ruth Ann Gaines, Ras Smith, and Phyllis Thede) will serve in the legislature’s lower chamber; the other 96 lawmakers are white. No Latino has ever been elected to the Iowa House, and there has not been an Asian-American member since Swati Dandekar moved up to the state Senate following the 2008 election. Democratic State Representative Liz Bennett is the only out LGBTQ member of the lower chamber. To my knowledge, Abdul-Samad (who is Muslim) is the only lawmaker in either chamber to practice a religion other than Christianity.

After the jump I’ve posted details on the Iowa House majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing House committees. Where relevant, I’ve noted significant changes since last year.

Some non-political trivia: the Iowa House includes two Smiths (both Democrats), while the other 98 members have different surnames. As for popular first names, there are six Davids (four go by Dave), four Marys (one goes by Mary Ann), three Roberts (a Rob, a Bob, and a Bobby), three men named Thomas (two go by Tom), three Johns and two Jons, and three men each named Gary and Brian. There are also two Elizabeths (a Beth and a Liz) and two men each named Bruce, Chris, Jeff, Michael (one goes by Mike), and Charles (a Chuck and a Charlie).

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Who's who in the Iowa House for 2018

The Iowa House opens its 2018 session today with 58 Republicans, 41 Democrats, and one vacancy, since Jim Carlin resigned after winning the recent special election in Iowa Senate district 3. Voters in House district 6 will choose Carlin’s successor on January 16. UPDATE: Republican Jacob Bossman won that election, giving the GOP 59 seats for the remainder of 2018.

The 99 state representatives include 27 women (18 Democrats and nine Republicans) and 72 men. Five African-Americans (all Democrats) serve in the legislature’s lower chamber; the other 95 lawmakers are white. No Latino has ever been elected to the Iowa House, and there has not been an Asian-American member since Swati Dandekar moved up to the Iowa Senate following the 2008 election.

After the jump I’ve posted details on the Iowa House majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing House committees. Where relevant, I’ve noted significant changes since last year.

Under the Ethics Committee subheading, you’ll see a remarkable example of Republican hypocrisy.

Some non-political trivia: the Iowa House includes two Taylors (one from each party) and two Smiths (both Democrats). As for first names, there are six Davids (four go by Dave), four Roberts (two Robs, one Bob, and a Bobby), four Marys (one goes by Mary Ann), three Johns and a Jon, and three men each named Gary and Charles (two Chucks and a Charlie). There are also two Elizabeths (a Beth and a Liz) and two men each named Brian, Bruce, Chris, Todd, and Michael (one goes by Mike).

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IA-Gov: Boulton, Hubbell lead in early legislative endorsements

State Senator Nate Boulton and Fred Hubbell have locked up more support among state lawmakers than the five other Democrats running for governor combined.

Whether legislative endorsements will matter in the 2018 gubernatorial race is an open question. The overwhelming majority of state lawmakers backed Mike Blouin before the 2006 gubernatorial primary, which Chet Culver won. Last year, former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge won the nomination for U.S. Senate, even though about 60 current and 30 former Democratic lawmakers had endorsed State Senator Rob Hogg.

Nevertheless, prominent supporters can provide a clue to activists or journalists about which primary contenders are well-positioned. Where things stand:

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Two more Democrats support gun bill in final Iowa House vote

This afternoon the Iowa House approved the amended omnibus gun bill state senators approved earlier this week. House File 517 passed by 57 votes to 35, mostly along party lines. Four Democrats (Bruce Bearinger, Scott Ourth, John Forbes, and Tim Kacena) voted for the bill. Bearinger and Ourth also supported the legislation the first time it came before the House. They explained their reasoning in comments I published here. I have asked Forbes and Kacena why they changed their minds and will update this post as needed.

Only two Republicans voted against the gun bill today. Dave Heaton and Michael Bergan also opposed last month’s version. Heaton could not abide the provisions making it more difficult for local governments to keep guns out of public buildings. His district includes Mount Pleasant, where a fatal shooting occurred during a city council meeting three decades ago. I have not seen public comments from Bergan about this issue, but will update this post if he responds to my inquiry.

Before the final vote, House members debated the Senate amendment to House File 517. Bleeding Heartland discussed the changes to various provisions here. Democratic State Representative Mary Wolfe offered an amendment to the amendment, which would have delayed until July 1, 2018 the implementation of the section allowing Iowans to carry concealed weapons on the state Capitol grounds. Her thinking: while it’s “fine” to let law-abiding Iowans carrying handguns in Capitol, the legislature has a “responsibility to visitors to ensure all permits to carry [are] valid.” The bill calls for the Department of Public Safety to create a statewide verifiable uniform permit to carry, but that process will take much longer than three months. Wolfe pointed to the risk that Iowans without permits might take advantage of the current non-uniformity of carry permits issued by county sheriffs (some with no photo). The state legislature will be held liable “if innocent people are killed by a person who is allowed to carry” a gun in the Capitol building.

Wolfe’s amendment was ruled not germane, and her motion to suspend the rules to force a vote on it failed along party lines. After that, House members approved the Senate amendment by voice vote, leading to closing speeches and the 57-35 vote on final passage mentioned above.

Matt Windschitl, who floor managed House File 517, used part of his closing remarks to go on a riff about Iowans “being lied to.” I expected a diatribe against people like me, who have raised concerns about Stand Your Ground and local pre-emption language facilitating more homicides. But in a plot twist, Windschitl’s target was Aaron Dorr, the none-too-ethical leader of Iowa Gun Owners. That group claims to be “Iowa’s only No Compromise gun rights organization.” On the House floor (beginning around the 4:42:15 mark here), Windschitl hammered Iowa Gun Owners for taking credit for a bill they did nothing to advance. “You need and you deserve the truth. Aaron Dorr is a scam artist, a liar, and he is doing Iowans no services and no favors. I feel better now,” Windschitl said, just before moving for a final vote on his bill.

UPDATE: Forbes commented via e-mail on April 7, “There were several changes made in the Senate that improved the bill and led to my support. While it is still not perfect, the Senate changes give the Governor more flexibility to restrict weapons in emergency situations, adds more safeguards for kids, and adds new protections to keep people who have committed a firearms-related crime behind bars.”

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Who's who in the Iowa House for 2017

The Iowa House opens its 2017 session today with 59 Republicans, 40 Democrats, and one vacancy, since Jim Lykam resigned after winning the recent special election in Iowa Senate district 45. The 99 state representatives include 27 women (18 Democrats and nine Republicans) and 72 men. Five African-Americans (all Democrats) serve in the legislature’s lower chamber; the other 95 lawmakers are white. No Latino has ever been elected to the Iowa House, and there has not been an Asian-American member since Swati Dandekar moved up to the Iowa Senate following the 2008 election.

After the jump I’ve posted details on the Iowa House majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing House committees. Where relevant, I’ve noted changes since last year.

Under the Ethics Committee subheading, you’ll see a remarkable example of Republican hypocrisy.

Some non-political trivia: the Iowa House includes two Taylors (one from each party) and two Smiths (both Democrats). As for first names, there are six Davids (four go by Dave), four Roberts (two Robs, one Bob, and a Bobby), four Marys (one goes by Mary Ann), and three men each named Gary, John, and Charles (two Chucks and a Charlie). There are also two Elizabeths (a Beth and a Liz) and two men each named Brian, Bruce, Chris, Greg, Michael, and Todd.

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