# Women's Issues

Commission sends Iowa Supreme Court short list to Branstad

After interviewing 60 applicants for the three vacancies on the Iowa Supreme Court this week, the State Judicial Nominating Commission sent Governor Terry Branstad a list of nine candidates on January 27. After the jump I’ve posted the press release naming the nine finalists. Five are lower-court judges (four district court, one appeals court), three are attorneys in private practice, and one is on the University of Iowa law school faculty. Branstad has to select three appointees within the next thirty days. Click here for information about and writing samples by all 60 applicants.

My first thought on reading the short list was that going forward, Iowa’s high court will have no women justices for the first time in many years. Twelve women applied for the Supreme Court vacancies, including District Court Judge Annette Scieszinski of Ottumwa and two assistant attorneys general, Jeanie Vaudt and Elisabeth Reynoldson. Since former Chief Justice Marsha Ternus was not retained by Iowa voters and had been the only woman on the court, I expected the commission to include at least a couple of women on the nominees list sent to Branstad. However, only University of Iowa Professor Angela Onwuachi-Willig made the short list, and I see zero chance Branstad will select her. It’s not that she is the youngest of the nine candidates; at her age (37), Branstad was governor of Iowa. The salient fact is that Onwuachi-Willig submitted a friend of the court brief in the Varnum v Brien case, supporting the plaintiffs who were seeking to have the Defense of Marriage Act struck down. I can’t imagine any scenario in which Branstad chooses a public supporter of marriage equality for a judgeship.

Nathan Tucker of the recently-formed conservative 501(c)4 group Iowa Judicial Watch posted the party affiliations and campaign donation history of all nine finalists, as well as links to their application materials and interviews with the judicial nominating commission. Eight of the finalists refused to fill out Iowa Judicial Watch’s questionnaire. Appeals Court Judge Edward Mansfield filled out most of the lengthy document but declined to answer question 26, containing some three dozen more specific questions about his “judicial ideology.” Still, Tucker took a cheap shot at Mansfield, stating, “Though a registered Republican, Mansfield’s wife has donated good and services to Planned Parenthood.” Dangling modifiers aside, donations by Mansfield’s wife don’t necessarily reflect the judge’s views and certainly don’t affect his competence to serve on the Iowa Supreme Court. Looks to me like Tucker wanted to signal to The Iowa Republican blog’s readership that they should oppose Mansfield despite his Republican affiliation.

A more extensive update on news related to the Iowa Supreme Court is in progress. Meanwhile, share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

P.S. Before the commission began interviewing candidates, Iowa House Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Anderson withdrew his application to serve on the Iowa Supreme Court.

UPDATE: Only two women have ever served on the Iowa Supreme Court: Linda Neuman from 1986 to 2003 and Marsha Ternus from 1993 to the end of 2010. If appointed by Branstad (she won’t be), Onwuachi-Willig, who is black, would be the first ethnic minority on the Iowa Supreme Court.

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CDC birth control guidelines could reduce breastfeeding

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine warns that recently updated “birth control guidelines released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could undermine mothers who want to breastfeed,” I learned from the ByMomsForMoms blog, sponsored by Lansinoh. From the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s news release:

“The new guidelines ignore basic facts about how breastfeeding works,” says Dr. Gerald Calnen, President of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM). “Mothers start making milk due to the natural fall in progesterone after birth. An injection of artificial progesterone could completely derail this process.”

The CDC report, “U.S. Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use, 2010,” released in the May 28 issue of Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), contains important changes in what constitutes acceptable contraceptive use by breastfeeding women. The criteria advise that by 1 month postpartum the benefits of progesterone contraception (in the form of progestin-only pills, depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DPMA) injection, or implants), as well as the use of combined (progestin-estrogen) oral contraceptives outweigh the risk of reducing breastfeeding rates. Previously, progesterone birth control was not recommended for nursing mothers until at least 6 weeks after giving birth, and combined hormonal methods were not recommended before 6 months.

Based on clinical experience, breastfeeding support providers report a negative impact on breastfeeding when contraceptive methods are introduced too early. One preliminary study demonstrated dramatically lower breastfeeding rates at 6 months among mothers who underwent early insertion of progesterone-containing IUDs, compared with breastfeeding rates of mothers who underwent insertion at 6-8 weeks postpartum.

I have met women whose milk supply collapsed after they received a progesterone shot. One acquaintance had successfully nursed previous babies and was never informed by her health care provider that a birth control shot could impede her ability to produce enough milk for her infant.

It’s illogical for the CDC to give its blessing to early postpartum use of hormonal birth control when the federal government has supposedly been trying to promote breastfeeding for more than a decade. Earlier this year, the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity set a goal of having half of U.S. babies breastfed for at least nine months by 2015, and recommended a number of specific policies to help reach that goal. But breastfeeding without a full milk supply is quite difficult no matter how educated the mother is or how supportive her environment. I hope the CDC will revise its guidelines and recommend non-hormonal forms of birth control for women in the early months of breastfeeding.  

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Republicans put government between women and their doctors

Remember last year when Republicans claimed health care reform would put government bureaucrats between patients and their doctors? It was a hypocritical talking point to begin with, given how often insurance companies overrule doctors’ orders, in some cases denying sick people access to life-saving medical care.

The hypocrisy is especially apparent now that Republicans are cheering two new laws passed in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Legislature voted Tuesday to override the governor’s vetoes of two abortion measures, one of which requires women to undergo an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus before getting an abortion.

Though other states have passed similar measures requiring women to have ultrasounds, Oklahoma’s law goes further, mandating that a doctor or technician set up the monitor so the woman can see it and describe the heart, limbs and organs of the fetus. No exceptions are made for rape and incest victims.

A second measure passed into law on Tuesday prevents women who have had a disabled baby from suing a doctor for withholding information about birth defects while the child was in the womb.

To clarify: Republicans passed a law dictating the way doctors communicate with patients and how they must proceed with every woman seeking an abortion, regardless of her individual circumstances. According to the New York Times, the Center for Reproductive Rights has already filed suit to challenge the constitutionality of the ultrasound law, claiming it “violates the doctor’s freedom of speech, the woman’s right to equal protection and the woman’s right to privacy.”

The second law is in some ways more offensive, because the government is shielding doctors who deliberately do not level with their patients. I have close friends who have learned while pregnant that their future child has serious medical problems. To give doctors license to deceive women in that situation is unconscionable. Pregnant women must be able to make informed decisions regarding all medical care. Who’s to say that doctors will stop at “merely” hiding birth defects? Maybe some will decide it’s better not to tell women they have cancer or some other disease that might prompt them to terminate a pregnancy.

The new laws are similar to two anti-abortion laws the Oklahoma Supreme Court already struck down. Clearly Republicans won’t let a little thing like the state constitution get in the way of their desire to intimidate women and interfere with the information they receive from their doctors. I agree with Charles Lemos: this is a sign of how extreme today’s Republican Party has become.

Iowans who don’t take reproductive rights for granted may want to know that Arianna Huffington is coming to Des Moines next Tuesday to help raise money for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (formerly Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa). Click the link for event details.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread. I recommend this post from the Ms. Magazine blog on the 10 worst myths about abortion in the United States.

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Events coming up this week

I didn’t manage to compile calendars the past couple of weeks, but I wanted to get back on track today, because there are lots of newsworthy events happening in the coming week around Iowa.

I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to the DAWN’s List reception honoring outstanding Iowa Democratic women tomorrow. I’d appreciate it if someone who attends would post a comment or a diary here about the reception.

Other notable events this week include a symposium in Des Moines about Iowa’s 2008 floods, a sustainable communities conference in Dubuque, and a public workshop in Ankeny about competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. Details on those and other happenings are after the jump.

Keep checking John Deeth’s blog for news about statewide, Congressional and state legislative candidate filings, which continue through March 19.

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Massive Iowa Legislature linkfest (post-funnel edition)

The Iowa Legislature has been moving at an unusually fast pace during the shortened 2010 session. It’s time to catch up on what’s happened at the statehouse over the past three weeks. From here on out I will try to post a legislative roundup at the end of every week.

February 12 was the first “funnel” deadline. In order to have a chance of moving forward in 2010, all legislation except for tax and appropriations bills must have cleared at least one Iowa House or Senate committee by the end of last Friday.

After the jump I’ve included links on lots of bills that have passed or are still under consideration, as well as bills I took an interest in that failed to clear the funnel. I have grouped bills by subject area. This post is not an exhaustive list; way too many bills are under consideration for me to discuss them all. I recommend this funnel day roundup by Rod Boshart for the Mason City Globe-Gazette.

Note: the Iowa legislature’s second funnel deadline is coming up on March 5. To remain alive after that point, all bills except tax and appropriations bills must have been approved by either the full House or Senate and by a committee in the opposite chamber. Many bills that cleared the first funnel week will die in the second.  

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Weekend open thread with events coming up this week

The coming week will be busy at the state capitol, because February 12 is the first “funnel” date. All bills excluding appropriations bills that have not been approved by at least one committee by February 12 will be dead for the 2010 session, unless something extraordinary happens.

Also, Iowa House Republicans are expected to try to suspend the rules this week to force consideration of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. If last April’s events are any guide, they can expect help from two Iowa House Democrats: Geri Huser and Dolores Mertz. Meanwhile, Mertz is working with a group of Republicans on a constitutional amendment that would “recognize human eggs as persons worthy of legal protection.” Such an amendment would outlaw abortion and probably some forms of birth control as well.

With the compressed legislative calendar and severe budget restraints, there may be fewer bills passed in 2010 than in previous sessions. If you’re keeping your eye on any bill, let us know in this thread. I hope the Iowa Senate Labor and Business Relations Committee will pass Senate File 2112, introduced by Senator Pam Jochum, on “workplace accommodations for employees who express breast milk.” It’s already cleared the subcommittee. Last hear State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad introduced a similar measure in the Iowa House, and I think there’s a decent chance of getting this bill through the House Labor Committee. Employers also benefit from practices that make it easier for their employees to continue breastfeeding.

Jochum is an all-around outstanding legislator. If I lived in the first district, she would definitely have my vote for Congress whenever Bruce Braley decides to run for U.S. Senate.

This thread is for anything on your mind this weekend. Am I the only one out there who doesn’t care who wins the Superbowl?

After the jump I’ve posted details on other Iowa political events scheduled for this week.

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Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 1)

I expected 2009 to be a relatively quiet year in Iowa politics, but was I ever wrong.

The governor’s race heated up, state revenues melted down, key bills lived and died during the legislative session, and the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Varnum v Brien became one of this state’s major events of the decade.

After the jump I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from January through June 2009. Any comments about the year that passed are welcome in this thread.

Although I wrote a lot of posts last year, there were many important stories I didn’t manage to cover. I recommend reading Iowa Independent’s compilation of “Iowa’s most overlooked and under reported stories of 2009,” as well as that blog’s review of “stories that will continue to impact Iowa in 2010.”

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Events coming up during the next two weeks

I’m looking forward to the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner this weekend. It will be live-streamed for those who can’t be there in person. The Iowa branch of Organizing for America is having a grand opening on Saturday as well, right before the JJ dinner.

Details for those and other events are after the jump. Post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know if something I’ve left out.

Linn County Dems: Don’t forget that November 24 is the special election in Iowa House district 33.

One more “save the date”: the Culver-Judge campaign’s holiday party will be on Saturday, December 5 at the Val-Air Ballroom in West Des Moines from 7:30 pm to 11:00 pm. Tickets are just $35 for an individual, $10 for students and $50 for a family. Call 515-244-5151 or go to www.chetculver.com for more information.

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Free campaign advice for Democratic women and their staffers

Lynda Waddington, contributor to Iowa Independent and creator of the Essential Estrogen blog, will be the featured speaker at two seminars on “developing campaign web pages and blogs for Democratic women candidates, and those who work their campaigns.”

If you know any women who have considered running for office, or anyone who wants to work on a woman candidate’s campaign, please spread the word. Waddington promises to “show participants the good, the bad, and the (oh so very) ugly that can come with being a politically active woman in the age of the internet and high technology.”

The Des Moines seminar will take place on Saturday, November 14, from 1:30 to 3:30 pm at the AFSCME office, 4320 NW 2nd.

The Cedar Falls seminar will take place on Saturday, November 21, from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm at the Cedar Falls Public Library.

For more information, contact Jo Ann Zimmerman at 515-225-1136 or atzzzzz AT aol.com, or Marcia Nichols at 515-246-1517 (for the Des Moines event).

The seminars are free, no advance registration required.  Sponsored by DAWN (Democratic Activist Womens Network) and AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees). DAWN was founded in 1992 to recruit and mentor Democratic women to run for public office.

Speaking of women running for office, jamesvw posted information to help get out the vote for Kirsten Running-Marquardt in the November 24 special election in Iowa House district 33.

Events coming up this week

I heard there was a fantastic turnout over the weekend at Capital City Pridefest. If you were there, share your stories and impressions in this thread. We didn’t get downtown–instead, we hit the Blank Park Zoo on Saturday (loved the “Birdman” visiting show). We enjoyed “Sample Sunday” at three of my favorite farms the next day. As a bonus, I helped a turtle cross a country road–I was afraid it would get hit by a car if we left it to creep along.

After the jump I’ve posted details about a bunch of events coming up this week, including LGBT Pride events in Omaha, Iowa City and Davenport this weekend.

I want to highlight the fundraiser for Whiterock Conservancy in Coon Rapids on June 18. It’s a great cause, and whether or not you can come on Thursday, I highly recommend scheduling a visit if you’ve never seen the conservancy.

Democratic politicians and candidates, please let me know about any noteworthy events (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com), so I can include them on my weekly calendars. For instance, State Representative Elesha Gayman is having a fundraiser in Des Moines on June 16.

I learned recently that Bruce Stone is hosting a new liberal talk radio show in Des Moines; it airs weekdays from 6 to 7 pm on Macsworldlive.com. Here’s the link for tuning in live, and here is the link for the archive of programs.  

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Events coming up this week

It’s been a week since same-sex marriage became legal in Iowa, and I’m happy to report that my hetero marriage has not yet collapsed under the strain of sharing rights with gays and lesbians.

Click “there’s more” to read about events coming up this week. As always, post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of something I’ve left out.

Advance warning: May 11-15 is Bike to Work week.

Registration is FREE. Over 500 Bike to Work Socks have been ordered from the Sock Guy. This year’s socks are green. Socks will be available at events throughout the week on a first come, first serve basis. (One pair per pre-registered rider.) Everyone who registers and takes the pledge is eligible for $1,000 in Bike Bucks for use in any sponsoring bike shop and many other prizes! Registration closes at Noon on Thursday May 14th. Questions? Check out Bike to Work Week events and businesses around Iowa at www.bikeiowa.com.

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Events coming up this weekend and next week

I was downtown today helping set up a couple of booths for the Natural Living Expo tomorrow, which has been taking up a lot of my time lately. Maybe I’ll see some of you there, but I won’t have my “desmoinesdem” hat on, so won’t be talking about partisan politics.

As always, please post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of an event I’ve left out.

The calendar is after the jump.

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Don't blow it, Democrats: Stand up for Iowa women

Looking ahead to the 2010 elections, I’m concerned  that Iowa Democratic leaders will try to coast on our party’s voter registration advantage and well-organized early voting effort.

As I’ve written before, I believe Democrats need to have big successes to show for 12 years of control of the governor’s office and four years of a legislative majority. Democrats have posted net gains of seats in the Iowa House and Senate for four straight elections now. Voters are going to ask what have we done for them lately, especially if the country is still in recession 18 months from now.

Trouble is, the budget outlook continues to deteriorate. Deep cuts to education and other popular programs are expected when Governor Culver submits his revised draft 2010 budget to the legislature. Iowa’s budget problems are nowhere near as bad as those faced by some other states, but they’re bad enough to prevent legislators from throwing money toward every good idea.

For those reasons and more, it’s important for Democrats not to blow it when they have a chance to do something tangible (yet inexpensive) for a key voter bloc. You know how they say, “When women vote, Democrats win?” Now Democrats in the Iowa legislature have a chance to return the favor. I enclose part of an action alert the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women sent out on Wednesday:

We need your help today to contact your legislators on all three issues.

   * SF 137 Being the first state in the nation to extend the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to the state level

(The House and Senate have passed different versions and are working to reach consensus.)

   * HF243 Tripling the number of women making decisions that impact our communities by requiring gender balance on local boards and commissions

(Passed the House and now deferred on the Senate Floor for later action. Local government officials have been contacting legislators, urging them to oppose the bill “because it would be difficult” to achieve gender balance.  Please contact your Senators!)

   * Justice Systems Appropriations bill: Keeping Iowans safe by restoring a $4 million state appropriation to fund victim services

For more information on any of these issues, please visit our policy page. Also, you might want to listen to yesterday’s Talk at 12 on Iowa Public Radio, which featured discussion on the wage discrimination and gender balance bills and the issue of women running for office.

If your representatives are Democrats, please contact them about these issues. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is a no-brainer. Frankly, refusing to pass it would be a tremendous insult to all the women who have worked so hard for so many years to elect Iowa Democrats.

It’s false to imply that Iowa lacks enough talented women to serve on boards and commissions.

There aren’t many well-organized interest groups working the phones to demand appropriation for victim services, but cutting those funds would cause real suffering.

It’s time for our leaders to step up and show that when Democrats vote, women win.

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Events coming up this week

Happy Spring, Bleeding Heartland readers! There’s a lot happening this week, and I’ve posted the events after the jump.

Post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of something good happening that I’ve left out.

If you live within striking distance of Iowa City, there’s a benefit for the Iowa Renewable Energy Association tonight at the Mill (details below).

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Events coming up during the next two weeks

There’s a lot going on in the next couple of weeks for those who haven’t split Iowa for spring break. Event details are after the jump.

Please post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of an event I’ve left out.

FYI, the Iowa Environmental Council has a job opportunity:

The Iowa Environmental Council is in the process of establishing an air quality program area. The Council is seeking an individual to conduct research, engage in coalition building and public education and advise the Council on policy opportunities available to protect Iowa’s air quality. For job requirements, description, salary information and how to apply, go to: www.iaenvironment.org, and click on “job opening” on the gold sidebar.

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Democratic Women's Summit set for March 28 in Des Moines

Mark your calendars, Democratic women of Iowa: DAWN’s List (the Democratic Activist Women’s Network) has scheduled a Women’s Summit for Saturday, March 28th.

Midwestern women who have won Congressional elections are among the invited guests. I will post more details about the speakers closer to the time. The event runs from 8:30 to 3:30 at the Iowa Historical Museum (so the food is likely to be good). Registration costs $25 before March 15 and $35 afterwards. Register by sending a check to DAWN’S List, P.O. Box 433, Johnston, IA 50131.

For updates on the Summit, send an e-mail to Joyce Schulte at joyceschulte AT iowatelecom.net or former Lt. Gov. JoAnn Zimmerman at ATZZZZZ AT aol.com.

I won’t be there for the Iowa Democratic Women’s Summit, because I will be helping two non-profit organizations staff their booths for the Natural Living Expo the same weekend.

I hope some Bleeding Heartland reader will attend the women’s summit and tell us about it afterwards. I would be happy to promote a good diary about this event to the front page.

Iowa Senate approves bill banning wage discrimination

Following up on this morning’s action alert, I am pleased to report that the Iowa Senate approved a bill ending wage discrimination today. From a Senate Democrats press release:

Today the Iowa Senate voted to outlaw wage discrimination based on age, race, religion, gender and the other protected classes cited in the Iowa Civil Rights Act.

“Your pay should be based on your job performance, not your religion, age or gender,” said State Senator Staci Appel of Ackworth, Chair of the State Government Committee and the bill’s floor manager.  “This is particularly important for the many Iowa families where women work outside the home.  When an Iowa mom is paid what she is worth, the entire family benefits.”

“Iowa voters are urging us to focus on protecting and growing the middle class,” said Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal.  “Today’s vote to outlaw wage discrimination is just this session’s first step in that direction.”

The legislation, Iowa ‘s version of the federal Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, will have particularly positive impact for Iowa women and their families.  Iowa currently ranks 37th among states when it comes to gender wage equity.  Under Senate File 127, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission would have the ability to award double the wage differential for the period of time the discrimination occurred and up to three times that wage differential in cases of willful violation.

The legislation applies only to employers who have four or more employees.  It does not apply to wage differences that result from a seniority system, a merit system, a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or is based on any other factor other than the age, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, or disability of the employee.

The legislation now goes to the Iowa House for its consideration.

It was a straight party-line vote: 32 Democratic senators in favor, 18 Republicans opposed. Like they say, elections have consequences.

Note: when the U.S. Senate approved the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 last month, four Republicans joined all the Democrats and independents in support of the bill. That included three women Republicans in the U.S. Senate. I wonder why the three women in the Iowa Senate Republican caucus are less concerned about wage discrimination.

The Des Moines Register provides some background on the problem in Iowa:

It’s taboo in the private business world for workers to compare salaries, so Iowa women with careers in finance and insurance may not know that Iowa men earn about $78,000 a year on average, while women bring in $40,000. […]

Iowa’s female workers – both hourly and salaried – earn 78 cents for every dollar male workers make, according to data from Iowa Workforce Development.

For example, in retail home furnishing stores in Iowa, men make $36,000 a year on average while women earn $22,000, according to a study of 1.45 million Iowa workers’ 2007 wages.

In food service, men bring in $13,000, while women take home $10,000.

In Iowa hospitals, men earn $61,000, women make $37,000.

Even in elementary and secondary schools, men make $35,000 a year on average, while women earn $27,000.

These industry averages could reflect factors such as differences in experience and job skills, but also reveal a disproportionately lower wage for women overall, state officials said.

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Contact Iowa senators today on ending wage discrimination

Passing along an action alert from the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women:

The Iowa Senate is scheduled to debate SF137 — Iowa ‘s version of the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act– starting this afternoon!

Read the full text of this bill at the following link:


This bill is a crucial step in ending wage discrimination in Iowa based on gender and other protected class status, like disability and race.

Please contact your State Senator http://www3.legis.state.ia.us/…  BEFORE 1:00 TODAY and let her/him know your thoughts on the bill.  Email works great, but if you’d prefer to phone, call the Capitol Switchboard at 515-281-3221.

Some facts about wage discrimination and the bill:

– Iowa is ranked 37th among states for gender wage equity, and Iowa women are in the workforce at greater rates than the vast majority of other states.

– The bill goes farther to protect Iowans from wage discrimination than the Federal law does.

– It would apply for employers that have 4 or more employees (Federal law only protects those with 15 or more employees).

– It provides a deterrent to those few employers who might be temped to discriminate from doing so in the first place, by allowing damages of up to triple the back wages owed to a person where discrimination has been found, for the entirety of the time discrimination is proved to have occurred (Federal law only provides two years of back wage differential, or in some cases, three years).    

While you’re at it, please share your thoughts on gender balance on local boards and commissions.  SF133 http://coolice.legis.state.ia…. , a bill requiring local boards and commissions to be gender balanced like those at the state level, is also eligible for debate in the Senate. A recent phone survey of all 99 counties found that, across four county economic boards and commissions, less than one in six of those appointed to serve and make local economic decisions is a woman. Our communities deserve better representation and more balanced decision making.

Email works great, but if you’d prefer to phone, call the Capitol Switchboard at 515-281-3221.

Iowa Commission on the Status of Women

Lucas State Office Building

Des Moines, IA   50319=

PH: 515-281-4461 or 800-558-4427

FAX: 515-242-6119


I disagree that e-mail “works great” in these situations. A lot of legislators have huge e-mail backlogs that they never read, or don’t read in time for it to affect their opinion of a pending bill.

I would call the switchboard to weigh in on this issue.

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Action: Tell Congress to support fair pay for women

I received this message from the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women.

Information provided by the National Women’s Law Center:

This is the moment we’ve been waiting for. The U.S. House of Representatives is poised to act as soon as this week on fair pay for women – and we need your help.

Especially during these tough economic times, women need equal pay for equal work to ensure self-sufficiency and dignity. Please contact your Members of Congress now!

The House is expected to vote soon on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act – key bills that would give women the tools they need to challenge pay discrimination. The Senate may follow with a vote as soon as early next week.

Please contact your Members of Congress today with a clear message: It’s time to sign, seal and deliver pay equity for all women by passing fair pay legislation immediately, so that President-Elect Obama can sign it into law during his first few days in office.

You can e-mail your lawmakers, or call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Ask the operator to connect you to your Senators and Representative. When you’re connected to their offices, tell the person who answers the phone:

1.   I am a constituent. My name is __________.

2.   I urge you to vote in favor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act, and to oppose any weakening amendments and any motions to recommit.

3.   Thank you for supporting fair pay for women.

For background on what happened to Lilly Ledbetter and why this law is needed, read this diary by Daily Kos user Femlaw, a civil rights attorney.

Here is the roll call from a 2007 House vote on this measure. All three Democratic representatives from Iowa voted yes, while Tom Latham and Steve King voted no. If you call the offices of Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack or Leonard Boswell, please indicate that you know they voted for this bill in 2007 and would appreciate their continued support.

If you live in the fourth or fifth Congressional districts, you may want to be armed with more talking points about why this is a good idea. I don’t expect Latham or King to change their stand because of phone calls, but it can’t hurt to let them know that their constituents are watching and are paying attention to this issue.

Senate Republicans filibustered the bill last spring. Even then, there were 56 votes in favor. Since Democrats picked up eight Senate seats, we should have enough votes to break a filibuster this year (even if Republicans temporarily block the seating of Senator Al Franken because of Norm Coleman’s unfounded election contest).

You probably won’t be surprised to learn from the Senate roll call that Tom Harkin voted yes on the cloture motion (to bring the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act up for a vote), while Chuck Grassley voted no on cloture (to filibuster the bill). If you call Grassley’s office, urge him to stop obstructing this important bill.

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Bleeding Heartland Year in Review: Iowa politics in 2008

Last year at this time I was scrambling to make as many phone calls and knock on as many doors as I could before the Iowa caucuses on January 3.

This week I had a little more time to reflect on the year that just ended.

After the jump I’ve linked to Bleeding Heartland highlights in 2008. Most of the links relate to Iowa politics, but some also covered issues or strategy of national importance.

I only linked to a few posts about the presidential race. I’ll do a review of Bleeding Heartland’s 2008 presidential election coverage later this month.

You can use the search engine on the left side of the screen to look for past Bleeding Heartland diaries about any person or issue.

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Forum on women in Iowa politics at Drake on Friday

Normally I mention these Iowa Politics events on my weekly calendar, but I only found out about this one today. There are still some spots available for reservations:

Drake to host forum on women in Iowa politics

Drake University will host a bipartisan forum Friday, Nov. 14, on the role women play in Iowa politics and future prospects for women to be elected to represent Iowans in Congress.

The featured speakers will be:

   * Dianne Bystrom, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University

   * Becky Greenwald, Iowa Congressional candidate

   * Mary E. Kramer, former U.S. ambassador

   * Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Iowa Congressional candidate

   * Jo Ann Zimmerman, former Iowa lieutenant governor

The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 11 a.m. in Levitt Hall in Old Main, 2507 University Ave.

Reservations are required for the event, which is sponsored by Drake, IowaPolitics.com and Mediacom, as part of the Cookies and Conversation Series. For reservations, call 515-226-8774 or send an e-mail to Julie Rutz at rutz@IowaPolitics.com.

IowaPolitics.com Des Moines Bureau Chief Lynn Campbell will moderate the program and questions will be accepted from audience members. The panel discussion will be televised to a statewide audience on the Mediacom Connections Channel and will be available for On Demand viewing from Mediacom on Channel 1.

Doors to Levitt Hall will open at 10:30 a.m. Free parking will be available in Drake lots at 26th Street and University Avenue and at 25th Street and Carpenter Avenue.

IowaPolitics.com is an independent, nonpartisan news operation offering a free Web site at www.IowaPolitics.com and paid subscriber products.

This is an open thread for discussing women in Iowa politics.

I still believe that the most important reason Iowa has never sent a woman to Congress is the fact that almost every woman who’s tried was challenging an incumbent.

Many women failed to defeat incumbents in other states too this year, including quite a few who had more money to spend on their campaigns than Miller-Meeks or Greenwald did in IA-02 and IA-04.

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Register examines Iowa's failure to elect a woman to Congress

In June I discussed some of the reasons Iowa is one of only two states never to send a woman to Congress or elect a woman governor.

Thomas Beaumont just explored the same subject in this feature for the Des Moines Register. Iowa women have run for Congress 17 times in the last five decades and come up short every time.

I encourage you to click through and read the whole piece, but here are some excerpts:

Iowa State University political science professor Dianne Bystrom said one reason Iowa women have had a hard time is that challengers win roughly 5 percent of the time nationally, male or female.

“The best way to elect a woman to Congress in the state of Iowa is to run a woman in an open-seat race,” said Bystrom, director of ISU’s Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics. “Better yet, run two women against each other.”

Women have waged competitive challenges that often turned out to be ill-timed.

In 2002, Cedar Rapids Democrat Julie Thomas challenged Jim Leach in the 2nd District, after redistricting prompted the longtime Davenport Republican to move to Iowa City. Also that year, Bettendorf Democrat Ann Hutchinson challenged Republican Jim Nussle in the 1st District, which was altered after reapportionment to include the Quad Cities.

Both women were heavily recruited and received the backing of the DCCC and EMILY’s List. But Thomas lost by 8 percentage points, while Hutchinson lost by 14 points in a year all five Iowa incumbents were returned to office.[…]

One [cultural factor] is states that tend to elect women are more urban than rural. Despite the growth in Des Moines’ suburbs, Iowa remains vastly rural.

Likewise, states with younger and growing populations tend to elect women. Iowa is among the nation’s oldest states and grew by the sixth-slowest rate in the nation from 2000 to 2005.

States prone to electing women also tend to be more politically liberal and less religiously fundamentalist. Iowa is a politically balanced state, although voter registration and voting trends have favored Democrats in the past four years.

I agree that Iowa’s urban/rural demographics are relevant here. In fact, I believe Iowa has a larger proportion of small-town and rural residents than any other state (at least that was the case a decade ago when I heard a political science conference paper on rural voters).

In this diary I also mentioned a few points that did not come up in Beaumont’s article.

I think it’s very relevant that Iowa keeps losing Congressional districts following the census. That reduces the number of races without incumbents, and therefore the opportunities for a woman challenger to break through.

Also, many states have sent exactly one woman to Congress, either a widow of a long-serving man or a daughter or granddaughter in a political dynasty family. We haven’t had either of those types of woman seek political office here in Iowa.  

But no matter where you live, women who are not incumbents seem to have a harder time getting elected to Congress.

I can’t find the link now, but after the 2006 elections I read an analysis of Democratic challengers and gender. The author identified 20 “serious challengers” to Republican incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives. A serious challenger was defined as someone whose campaign had raised at least $1 million by June 30, 2006.

Of those challengers, 13 were men and 7 were women.

In November 2006, 12 of those 13 men were elected to Congress, but 6 of the 7 women lost.

If you want to see Iowa break this barrier sooner rather than later, kick in a few bucks for Becky Greenwald. Mariannette Miller-Meeks is a good person but has virtually no chance of defeating Dave Loebsack in the strongly Democratic second district–not in what looks like a Democratic wave election in Iowa.

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Action: Comment today against rule that could limit women's health care

Midnight tonight (September 25) is the deadline to submit comments on a rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A few weeks ago Planned Parenthood Action sounded the alarm about this proposal, which would allow health care providers to refuse to provide care that goes against their personal beliefs. This diary contains a link to a pdf file of the relevant document from HHS and explains how it could affect women’s health care:

Tweaking the interpretation of existing law, ALL employees of health care organizations would be able to refuse to be associated with providing services to which they are opposed.  The administration says the new rule is targeted at abortion, but the trouble is they have made the rule so vague it could apply across the spectrum in health care, including the birth control women need to prevent abortions.

Creating a special class of employees based on personal beliefs allows everyone from the doctor to the receptionist have a say in your health care.  Any employee can deny care to a patient, and the organization is helpless to take action to correct the situation.

   * The receptionist who schedules your appointment may not do so because he or she does not agree with the type of contraception you use.

   * The doctor may not tell you about all of your options because they are opposed based on their religious beliefs.

A health care organization that ensures patients get access to necessary services may lose its ability to provide federal assistance to low-income patients because of one employee.  And they can take no corrective action.

Cecile Richards, who leads the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, sent out an e-mail yesterday urging concerned citizens to submit a public comment:

The Bush administration has issued a rule that would limit the rights of patients to receive complete and accurate reproductive health information when they visit a health care provider. It’s more of the Bush administration’s bad medicine, and this is our last chance to stop it.

This new rule could allow individual health care providers to redefine abortion to include the most common forms of birth control – and then refuse to provide these basic services. A woman’s ability to manage her own health care is at risk of being compromised by politics and ideology. We have until September 25 at midnight to voice our opposition.

If elected, the McCain/Palin ticket promises to be the most anti-choice administration ever. But first, the current president seems determined to do as much damage as he can before he leaves office. We have just one more day to voice our opposition to the Bush administration rule. Please take a moment right now to add your name to the hundreds of thousands of others who will not stand by and let this happen without a fight.

The Planned Parenthood Action Center has created a page where you can submit your comments on this proposed rule. It’s easy, so please do weigh in.

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Events coming up this week

The big event of the week will be the first presidential debate this Friday. You can sign up to attend or host one of the debate watching parties being organized by Democracy for America by clicking here.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that early voting starts in Iowa on September 25. Last week I gave some reasons to vote early, and Justus wrote a more comprehensive piece on the subject at BooMan Tribune. Remember, it was early voting that put Al Gore over the top in Iowa in 2000.

Please post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of an event I’ve left out.

Sunday, September 21:

Rob Hubler will be at the Monona County Democrats Annual Fall Rally at 4:30 p.m. in the Onawa Community Center.

One Iowa is holding a campaign training session for volunteers from 3:00 to 5:00 pm at the University of Northern Iowa, Mauker Union – Presidential Room in Cedar Falls. For more info, go to http://www.oneiowa.org.

Tuesday, September 23:

Humanities Iowa and Trees Forever are hosting Voices From The Prairie, an Iowa Writers’ Celebration September 23rd, 7 pm at the Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines, Iowa. Our theme this year is “Mixing Sun and Shade” as we explore how the prairie meets the forest. Our featured authors are John T. Price and Debra Marquart, both will discuss environmental issues and be available for questions. This event is free. fmi: Humanities Iowa, dana-mcgillin@uiowa.edu, or steve@southslope.net

One Iowa is holding a campaign training session for volunteers from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the Mason City Library Learning Center, 225 Second St. SE in Mason City. For more info, go to http://www.oneiowa.org.

Wednesday, September 24:

From the Sierra Club e-mail list:

Please attend a forum on

Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund

The first two forums are this week–see the entire list of meetings below.

Grinnell  9/24/08 @ 6:30 pmOld Glove Factory,  733 Broad St. (part of

Grinnell College)

Independence  9/25/08 @ 6:30 PMHeartland Acres (the big, barn-like building

on the west side of Independence off HWY 20)

The Sustainable Funding Coalition, a diverse group of Iowa organizations (including Sierra Club, TNC, INHF, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, Iowa

Farmers Union, Izaak Walton League, Environment Iowa, Iowa Environmental Council, Iowa Rivers Revival, etc.) that works for sustainable conservation funding, is sponsoring a series of candidate forums on the proposed Natural

Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. […]

About the Fund: The proposed Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund would provide a permanent funding source to support efforts to improve and preserve Iowa’s water quality, soils, wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation opportunities.

To create the fund, proposed legislation mandates that 3/8ths of a cent from state sales tax revenue will be appropriated for the Trust Fund the next

time the Iowa legislature approves a sales tax increase. The Sustainable Funding Coalition hopes to pass Trust Fund legislation during Iowa’s 2009

legislative session.  NOTE: This bill does not raise taxes, nor does it give voters the ability to raise the sales tax-only the legislature can do that.

Trees Forever will host a symposium entitled “Leading the Way to Greener Communities – Where Culture, Economy and the Environment Grow Together” on Wednesday, Sept 24. The event will be held from 8 AM to 4 PM at the Hotel Fort Des Moines, located at 10th & Walnut in Des Moines. The symposium will explore the economic, cultural and environmental benefits of trees and green spaces in an urban setting, public policies on green infrastructure, and other timely topics. Special guest speakers for the day include Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Commissioner of the City of Chicago Department of Environment, and Alice Ewen Walker, Executive Director of the National Alliance for Community Trees. The cost of the Trees Forever 2008 Symposium event is $25 for Trees Forever members or $35 for non-members, and includes lunch and refreshments. Advance registration is requested. For more information, or to register, log on to www.TreesForever.org or call 1-800-369-1269.

The Center on Sustainable Communities is organizing another Demo Home Workshop:

Join COSC and USGBC Iowa Chapter at our Foundations & Basements On-Site workshop on Wednesday, September 24, 2008 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Des Moines affordable green demonstration home site – 1347 Forest Avenue in the King-Irving Neighborhood. A CHDC (Community Housing Development Corporation) project, this is the second in our series of hands-on workshops at the affordable green demonstration homes in the Des Moines metro area.

A big thanks to the funding supporters of these demonstration home workshops:

   * Greater Des Moines Community Foundation

   * Principal Financial Group Foundation

   * Iowa Department of Natural Resources

   * Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

   * MidAmerican Energy

For more details visit www.icosc.com

RSVP by Monday, Sept. 22nd to Emily at Emily@icosc.com or 515-277-6222.

Thursday, September 25:

There will be a 60th Birthday Celebration and annual pasta dinner for Secretary of State Michael Mauro. Please join Michael and his family to celebrate! Thursday, September 25, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., A. H. Blank Golf Course, SW 9th & County Line Rd. Suggested Donation: $20 (note from desmoinesdem: We all owe Mauro our thanks for his efforts to get rid of paperless voting machines in Iowa. Kick in a few bucks for his birthday if you can.)

One Iowa is holding a campaign training session for volunteers from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at a location to be determined in Ames. For more info, go to http://www.oneiowa.org.

Also on Thursday, Sep 25, beginning at 6:30 p.m., learn about current, proposed conservation legislation and priorities of legislators and candidates, during a regional Candidates Conservation Forum in Independence, Iowa. Information will be presented on current and proposed state legislation to protect and enhance natural resources and the environment. Legislative candidates from a four-county area will be invited to speak about their priorities for legislation and answer questions from the public. The Forum will be held at the Heartland Acres Event Center, 2600 Swan Lake Blvd, in Independence, and is sponsored by the Conservation Board; Buchanan, Black Hawk, Benton and Fayette County Chapters of Pheasants Forever; Buchanan County Extension; the Friends of Hartman Reserve Nature Center, Tallgrass Prairie Center, and other conservation groups in the four-county region. There is no cost to attend.

Friday, September 26:

The first presidential debate will be televised at 8:00 pm central time. Jim Lehrer, Executive Editor and Anchor of The NewsHour on PBS will moderate at Ole Miss college in Oxford, Mississippi.

Saturday, September 27:

From a friend in Johnson County:

Saturday, September 27 is National Public Lands Day and Herbert Hoover National Historic Site is again looking for volunteers to help restore their 81-acre tallgrass prairie.

National Public Lands Day, is the annual nation-wide volunteer restoration effort for America’s public lands. This year’s work will

include cutting down shrubs and collecting or planting prairie seeds. Volunteers who work at Herbert Hoover NHS will be rewarded with a pass

good for free entry any day during the next year at public land sites managed by the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish and

Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Volunteers interested in getting hands-on experience with our natural resources on September 27 should contact Adam Prato at (319) 643-7855 by

Friday, September 26. Dress for the weather and wear comfortable work clothes. Work gloves and tools will be provided. Water, sunscreen,

sunglasses, and hats are recommended. Meet at the Visitor Center at 8:30 a.m. for an orientation and to get signed up. Work in the prairie will be from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

From a friend in Pella:

Women may be interested in Bodies in Focus, a day-long workshop for small groups of women, centering on my fine art professional photographic exhibit of REAL naked women.  The goal of our time together is for us all to move one step closer to     living more intensely as a body.  The workshop is for participant health. The photographed women and I want to share a unique and life-altering experience with portraiture, within a safe community. Ultimately, our gathering together will itself be transformational. The workshop will include exhibit viewing and thoughtful group discussion of being bodies (sharing is always optional).  Please plan to stay all day. You will be a group of up to 12 women, and so continuity of PRESENCE will be vital. Please stay for lunchtime,   as well, resisting the call to run errands.

WHEN: – We’ll meet on Saturday September 27, 2008 at 10:00 to 3:00, with an hour-long lunch included.

WHERE: –  My house: 900 Independence Street; Pella, IA  50219  (Located on the corner of Independence and West First Street)

FOOD: –  The lunch will be vegetarian (non-vegan). Please eat lunch here. Tell me if you have special dietary needs.

FEE    –  $65: Includes workshop and lunch. Please pay prior to the workshop. Bartering is an option.

Please RSVP to Rhonda (641) 621-0171

Sunday, September 28:

From the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation:

You’re invited to an open house honoring Erwin “Erv” Klaas, the 2008 winner of the Hagie Heritage Award!

Please join us in celebrating this conservation hero.

Sunday, Sept. 28, 2008

2:30-4:00 p.m. Open house with refreshments

3:00 p.m. Short program and award presentation

Story County Nature Center, McFarland Park

56461 180th Street, Ames

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation presents the Hagie Heritage Award annually to a person with extraordinary service and commitment to Iowa’s environment. Learn about Erv’s outstanding conservation work at www.inhf.org/hagie2008-klaas.htm

For directions to the event, call the Story County Conservation Board at 515-232-2516.

For more information, call INHF at 515-288-1846 or e-mail us at info@inhf.org .

From the Polk County Conservation Board:

A-mazing Prairie Festival

September 28, Polk County

Gather the entire family and join us 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., at the Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt Longhouse, to play and explore a 14-acre prairie maze. A walk through this maze will not only challenge your navigation and problem-solving skills, but will educate you about our natural heritage as well. Free canoe floats, a raptor release, music from the Barn Owl Band, dog training demonstrations, education programs, and hayrack tours will take place throughout the day. This special event is free to the public. For directions, go online to http://www.conservationboard.o…

One Iowa is holding a campaign training session for volunteers from 3:00 to 5:00 pm at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St. For more info, go to http://www.oneiowa.org.

Monday, September 29:

There will be a fundraiser in Des Moines for Rob Hubler, with a minimum suggested donation of $100. If you are interested, please contact Katrina at 712-352-2077 or katrina AT hublercongress.com

From the Iowa Environmental Council:

Projects WILD/WILD Aquatic/Learning Tree On-line Course, Starting September 29, Internet

This nine-week on-line class (9/29/08 – 11/30/08) introduces students to the national, award-winning Projects WILD, WILD Aquatic, and Learning Tree activity guides as well as Iowa supplements that provide additional background information and resources. All materials are correlated to National Education Standards. Participants are required to spend 3 hours per week on-line completing assignments. Participants should be comfortable navigating web pages. A majority of the course materials are provided on a CD. For more information, contact Shannon Hafner, Aquatic Education Program, Iowa DNR, 641/ 747-2051, Shannon.Hafner@dnr.iowa.gov

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Events coming up this week

As always, post a comment or send me an e-mail if I’ve left out anything important.

Note: the first presidential debate is coming up next Friday, September 26. Democracy for America is organizing debate watch parties across the country.

Monday, September 15:

It’s the last day to get the early-bird discount when registering for the Iowa Environmental Council’s annual conference on October 17. For more details on that event, click here or call 515-244-1194, ext 202.

Tuesday, September 16:

It’s the deadline to register for the Interfaith Allliance of Iowa’s Crossroads luncheon on Friday (see below). For more information or to make a reservation, call (515) 279-8715 or email tiaiowa@dwx.com.

Wednesday, September 17:

The Iowa Citizen Action Network is organizing a public forum to discuss what is needed for economic recovery at The Talk Shop Café, 1015 E. 4th Street in Waterloo at 6:30 pm. We are inviting our Congressional representatives and State and Local Officials to hear from US what we need during this week of Economic Recovery talks.

From the Sierra Club:

Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining:  How Iowans Can Help Bring an End to Destructive Mining!

Learn about Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining, and What Iowans Can Do to Stop This Practice and Move our Nation Towards a Clean Energy Future!

WHO:  Concerned citizens, the Sierra Club National Coal Campaign

WHAT:  Come join your friends and neighbors for an educational presentation about how our reliance on coal-fired electricity is destroying the mountains and communities of Appalachia, and what you can do to stop it!  Hear accounts from Appalachian coalfield residents, watch a portion of a soon to-be-released documentary highlighting the effects of coal on communities and the environment, and join us for refreshments as we discuss the ways that Iowans can put a stop to Mountaintop Removal Mining!

WHEN:  September 17th, 2008 from 7:30 to 9 pm

WHERE:  Grace United Methodist Church, 37th and Cottage Grove, Des Moines

RSVP:  If you plan on attending this event, please contact Lauren Trevisan at lauren.trevisan@sierraclub.org

If you would like any additional information about this event, and if you are planning on attending, please contact Lauren Trevisan at lauren.trevisan@sierraclub.org or 202-675-6278.  Thank you!  I look forward to meeting all of you on Wednesday!

From the Des Moines area chapter of the Holistic Moms Network:

Next Wednesday is our next Holisitic Moms Network meeting.

The meeting will start at 6pm and is located at the FOREST AVE. LIBRARY [in Des Moines] (franklin ave had another meeting the same day)

This months meeting is: Decreasing Your Carbon Footprint at Home- I am very excited to announce that we are going to have Jennifer Oredson a lobbyist from Greenpeace come and lead our discussion!  I met her a few weeks ago at a demonstration Greenpeace had at the Drake farmers market.

I hope to see you all there!  Please feel free to bring a snack to share.

Peace- Rebecca


From the DNR:


DES MOINES – Iowans interested in learning about the water quality improvement plan scheduled to be completed for the lower Des Moines River can attend a meeting to be held in three locations the week of Sept. 15.

A segment of the Des Moines River, known as the lower Des Moines River, is on the state’s impaired waters list because of excess E. coli bacteria in the water. This type of bacteria may indicate the presence of disease-causing human pathogens.  

The lower Des Moines segment runs from downtown Des Moines where the Raccoon River enters to the uppermost part of Red Rock Reservoir.  This segment collects water from many important Iowa rivers and streams including Raccoon River, Saylorville Lake, Beaver Creek, Four Mile Creek, North River, Middle River and South River.

The study, or DNR water quality improvement plan, will look at the problems and potential solutions for the river. The document can be used as a guide to improve recreation, wildlife and fishing on the river for local resource agencies, partners, stakeholders and residents interested in making a difference.

“We would like to work with people interested in learning more about water quality and how they can affect positive change in their watershed,” said Jeff Berckes with the DNR’s Watershed Improvement program. “These meetings are the first chance for the public to express their ideas on what can be done to improve the lower Des Moines River.”

Indianola:  Sept. 17, 7-9 p.m., Carver Hall Room 215 at Simpson College, West Clinton Ave.

Staff from the DNR’s Watershed Improvement Program will be on hand to answer questions.

Those not able to attend the public meeting can receive more information at www.iowadnr.gov/water/watershed/tmdl/publicnotice.html Or, they can contact Jeff Berckes, water quality improvement program coordinator,  by emailing jeff.berckes@dnr.iowa.gov, calling (515) 281-4791 or mailing him care of the DNR, Wallace State Office Building, 502 E. Ninth St., Des Moines, IA 50319

After gathering Iowans’ comments, the DNR will complete a draft plan.  When the document is completed, it will be presented to the public for comments and then submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval. Local groups interested in improving water quality in the lower Des Moines River can then use the plan to assist their improvement efforts.

Parents, caregivers and children of all ages are welcome to attend Holistic Moms meetings.

Thursday, September 18:

The Polk County Democrats 9th Annual Women’s Event will take place from 5:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M.

at the home of Dr. Andy McGuire, 100 37th St. in Des Moines (South of Grand Ave on 37th). With Guest of Honor Governor Ruth Ann Minner of Delaware. Please call to RSVP at 515-285-1800 or email polkdems@polkcountydemocrats.org

The Iowa Citizen Action Network is organizing another “listening post” event on health care:

Have you been struggling with your health insurance coverage?  Do you find yourself paying more for less coverage every year?  Have you been denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions?  Have you been dropped from your coverage and aren’t sure how to fight back?  Do you have a family member or neighbor who is struggling?

Here’s your chance to let your elected representatives know what you’re going through, and what you think they should do about it. September 18, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm at the Bob Mickle Community Center at 1620 Pleasant St in Des Moines.

Friday, September 19:

From the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa:

Crossroads is a program of The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa and is an opportunity to learn, to participate in civil dialogue, and to discuss issues at the intersection of religion & politics.

Friday, September 19

Brad Clark, Campaign Director, One Iowa

Fairness for All Families: Why Marriage Equality Matters

Today in Iowa , thousands of committed gay and lesbian couples are doing the hard work of building strong families yet lack the basic legal protections they need to take care of each other and their families.  These Iowa families need and deserve the security, dignity, and legal safety net of protections and responsibilities that marriage provides.  Join us to hear more about marriage equality in Iowa !

The Crossroads luncheon is Friday, September 19 from 11:45 am – 1 pm at Plymouth Congregational Church, 42nd & Ingersoll Avenue, Des Moines.

Reservations are required to attend Crossroads and must be received by noon on Tuesday, September 16.  Cost is $8 and is payable at the door.

For more information or to make a reservation, call (515) 279-8715 or email tiaiowa@dwx.com.

Saturday, September 20:

The Iowa Citizen Action Network is participating in a nationwide canvassing effort to knock on a million doors for peace. MoveOn.org is also involved with this effort. If you’ve got two hours to spare on Saturday, you can sign up to get a list of 40 new or infrequent voters in your neighborhood. You can do this individually wherever you live, or sign up to join groups that will be meeting in Des Moines, Ames and Waterloo. More details are after the jump.  Contact ICAN Organizer Sue Dinsdale at sdinsdale@iowacan.org or 515-277-5077 ext. 14 or go to milliondoorsforpeace.org

From the Sierra Club:

Why our Modern Food System is Not Sustainable

September 20, Ames area

Join us on Saturday, September 20, as we celebrate together the efforts and achievements of fellow Iowa Sierrans and conservation activists at the Story County Conservation Center in McFarland Park north of Ames. Frederick L. Kirschenmann, a Distinguished Fellow, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture will be the featured speaker. His presentation, “Why our Modern Food System is not Sustainable,” will offer Fred’s unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities we face in balancing an agricultural economy with the protection of our natural heritage. The banquet begins with a social time and silent auction at 11:00 a.m. followed at noon by lunch, Dr. Kirschenmann and an awards ceremony. There are also opportunities to hike the many trails in the park. The event will be catered by renowned Lucallan’s Restaurant, featuring local foods. The cost is $35 per person.

Please RSVP to Neila Seaman, 3839 Merle Hay Road, Suite 280, Des Moines, Iowa, 50310 or Iowa.chapter@sierraclub.org or 515-277-8868.

The Latino Heritage Festival runs Saturday and Sunday in Blank Park on SW 9th by the Zoo in Des Moines. The Polk County Democrats need volunteers to help with the booth, especially anyone who speaks Spanish.  Ideally, we would like to have at least one Spanish speaking person on every shift. The hours are 11am to 7pm Saturday, September 20th and 11am to 7pm Sunday, September 21st.  Any time you are available to help during those hours would be appreciated.  To volunteer, please call Tamyra at 515-285-1800.

Johnson County Heritage Trust Autumn Celebration

The 2nd annual “Under a Cider Moon . . . a Celebration of Autumn with the Johnson County Heritage Trust” fundraising event will be held Saturday, September 20, at 6 p.m at Dick Schwab’s round barn located at 2501 Sugar Bottom Road near Solon, Iowa.  There will be a live and silent auction, live music and local food and beverages. Proceeds will assist JCHT identify, preserve and manage land with significant environmental value in Johnson County.  For additional information visit www.jcht.org or call 1-319-857-4741.  RSVP today by mailing your check or donation to Johnson County Heritage Trust, P. O. Box 2523, Iowa City, Iowa 522440-2523 or by calling credit card information to 1-319-857-4741.

Climate Bicycle Ride

Begins September 20, New York to DC

We need Iowans to join us for a bike ride, to promote renewable energy, and getting the word out to people passionate about this issue. It is a fun event – a five day bike tour from New York City to Washington D.C. in September. Along the route, expert speakers will address the riders on the challenges of and solutions to global warming, and the ride will end with a rally and a lobbying session in the nation’s capital. The website is http://www.climateride.org/abo… We currently don’t have any Iowa riders. Our message would be stronger if we had representation from your state. For questions, call David Kroodsma, 413.658.4086.  

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A close-up view of an Obama women's outreach event

I don’t see much evidence that Barack Obama has a problem with women voters. He leads among women by more than Al Gore or John Kerry did at the same time during their own presidential campaigns. The most recent Iowa poll shows Obama leading by six overall but by 12 among Iowa women.

(UPDATE: A new national poll commissioned by EMILY’s list shows Obama leading among women by 12. He leads among women of all age groups, but his narrowest margin is among baby boomer women. Like Digby said, Don’t put baby boomer in the corner.)

Among purveyors of conventional wisdom, however, there is still a perception that Obama has work to do among women voters, and particularly the women who preferred Hillary Clinton in the primaries.

The Obama campaign has been scheduling women’s outreach events to address this issue. Today Governor Kathleen Sebelius is campaigning around central Iowa, and one of her appearances is a lunch in Des Moines specifically geared toward women.

Last Friday I attended a different women’s event featuring Dana Singiser. She served as Director of Women’s Outreach for Clinton’s presidential campaign before joining the Obama campaign as Senior Adviser for the Women’s Vote.

Singiser wrote the Obama campaign memo on John McCain’s “woman problem,” released earlier this week.

Join me after the jump for more.

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Obama campaign releases memo on McCain's "woman problem"

His problem attracting women voters, that is.

The memo is after the jump. Its author, Dana Singiser, did several women’s outreach events for the Obama campaign in Iowa last week. I attended one of those and will write it up when I have the chance. She was very impressive.

Singiser thoroughly documents the gender gap revealed by recent opinion polls on the presidential race. Her memo also gives several reasons why John McCain’s stand on the issues would not appeal to women voters.

The just-released University of Iowa Hawkeye poll showed Barack Obama leading McCain by five or six points overall (depending on which voter screen you use) but by 12 points among Iowa women voters.

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Women need to be aware of family financial matters

I cannot imagine what Maureen Boesen has been going through, trying to deal with her husband’s suicide while parenting four children who suffered a shocking bereavement.

Compounding her grief is a lawsuit from a creditor trying to claim most of her husband’s $3 million life insurance policy:

Maureen Boesen testified that she didn’t know for sure she was in a Great Western Bank office at 10101 University Ave. in Clive or what kind of documents she co-signed with her husband in May.

“I can’t say for sure what I signed,” Maureen Boesen said. “My husband said I was there just to sign some documents because some banks need the wife’s signature on them.”[…]

Great Western officials claim they are entitled to the large majority of the insurance payments because fraudulent documents were used to obtain the loan.

Executives for the bank insisted Maureen Boesen be held responsible for her husband’s filing of false statements to obtain a $3.5 million loan even though they acknowledged she probably didn’t know they were fraudulent. The lawsuit said the bank “does not allege Mrs. Boesen engaged or devised the acts” of falsifying documents.

In many households, the woman keeps track of the family finances. However, many families operate like Ed Boesen’s: the husband handles money issues, and the wife plays little role. It’s easy to see why Maureen Boesen didn’t ask any questions before signing those papers.

When I was growing up, I remember my father warning me many times not to give a future husband total control over the family money, and not to let my husband invest too much into any risky business scheme.

He also taught me that “the most optimistic person in the world is the guy on the brink of bankruptcy,” because he always hopes that the next deal will turn things around.

The Boesen story is making the news because Ed Boesen was a prominent local citizen and died owing an unusually large amount of money. But reckless borrowing by one partner sends plenty of families into bankruptcy every year.

A woman whose husband is the sole wage-earner for the household is particularly vulnerable in this situation:

Maureen Boesen became choked with emotion at one point during Friday’s testimony, when she was asked about her children. The Boesens, who had been married 23 years, have four children, ages 22, 19, 16 and 13. During her examination, she repeatedly insisted she knew little of her husband’s financial world and centered her attention on her family. She said that she would seldom pick up the family’s mail, and all bills were sent to the family accountant.

“I took care of things at the house,” she said. “Ed was at work all the time and he took care of the work part of it.”

Parents, please teach your daughters not to cede total control over family finances and not to sign financial documents without understanding them.

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If you want to elect more Iowa women

Consider heading to DMACC this afternoon for a meeting I only just learned about from Iowa Independent:


Members of The White House Project will visit Iowa on Thursday to help buoy efforts to create a five-year plan to elect more Iowa women into political office.

The meeting will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. May 22 in Building 7, Oak and Maple rooms, Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny.

Two Minnesota staffers from the project will discuss the non-profit, non-partisan group’s national goal to help increase the number of women into elected positions including the U.S. presidency. They’ll also discuss Iowa’s needs and the creation of a five-year plan to increase women political leaders in Iowa, among other things.

Sounds interesting–if anyone attends this event, please put up a diary or at least a comment afterwards in this thread.  

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Good interview with author of "The Lolita Effect"

Iowa Independent has published a good interview T.M. Lindsey did with Gigi Durham, a journalism professor at the University of Iowa who has published a book called “The Lolita Effect.”

“A lot of very sexual products are being marketed to very young kids,” Durham said in a press release. “I’m criticizing the unhealthy and damaging representations of girls’ sexuality, and how the media present girls’ sexuality in a way that’s tied to their profit motives. The body ideals presented in the media are virtually impossible to attain, but girls don’t always realize that, and they’ll buy an awful lot of products to try to achieve those bodies. There’s endless consumerism built around that.”

Durham will read from “The Lolita Effect” at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 8, at Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City.

If anyone makes it to the reading, please put up a comment or diary afterwards to tell us about the event.

If you are concerned about the way the media and various industries sexualize young girls, Mothering.com occasionally publishes news and action alerts about this issue.

Another good resource is Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a group dedicated to “reclaiming children from corporate marketers.” That organization, in collaboration with the group Dads & Daughters, launched a successful letter-writing campaign two years ago, which prompted toy company Hasbro to shelve a planned line of eroticized “Pussycat Dolls” for young girls.

A current letter-writing effort organized by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is urging a children’s hospital not to give naming rights to Abercrombie & Fitch, “among the worst corporate offenders” when it comes to sexualizing children.

Speaking of Lolita, since I studied Russian literature in college I want to let you in on a little secret: it’s not the best novel by Vladimir Nabokov. Seriously, I’ve never met a Russian lit professor or graduate student who thought that was Nabokov’s best work.

If you’re curious about Nabokov, read Invitation to a Beheading (a relatively early novel), The Gift (the last novel he wrote in Russian), The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (the first novel he wrote in English), Pale Fire (probably my own favorite), or Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle.

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McCain shameful behavior roundup

It’s hard to keep up with all the reasons to oppose John McCain. Last night I wrote about his opposition to a bill that would make it easier for victims of job discrimination to seek legal redress.

If you care about that issue, you can sign the petition on “Equal Pay for Equal Work” at Momsrising.org.

Meanwhile, I learned from this diary by TomP that Friends of the Earth Action is running an ad against McCain on CNN. The ad highlights McCain’s support for the nuclear power industry:

TomP’s diary also includes this great quote from Friends of the Earth Action president Dr. Brent Blackwalder:

You know how self righteous John McCain can be when he talks about corporate pork and earmarks, but do you know why he opposes the Lieberman-Warner global warming bill?  He plans to vote against it not because it could lavish $1 trillion on the profitable oil, gas and coal industries, but because he wants to add hundreds of billions of dollars more in earmarks for the nuclear industry!

On a related note, I got an e-mail today from the Sierra Club slamming McCain’s proposal to suspend the federal gas tax between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The Sierra Club notes that the real effect of that policy would be to

[r]aise oil company profits by another 18 cents per gallon — by eliminating the federal gas tax without guaranteeing that Big Oil won’t just keep prices high and take the difference to grow their record profits even more.

The Sierra Club also has an online petition you can sign, which sends this message to McCain:

The best way to deal with high gas prices is to cut, not expand, giveaways to Big Oil. Please vote to end taxpayer-funded subsidies and tax breaks for Big Oil and use that money to invest in clean, renewable energy.

Earlier this week, I got the latest newsletter from Smart Growth America, which also blasted McCain’s proposal to declare a summer holiday from the federal gas tax:

An artificial and temporary reduction of gas prices will simply guarantee that absolutely no money goes towards having suitable roads and bridges for those filled-up cars to drive on – not to mention alternatives to congestion, like commuter rail and transit. Instead, we can send the full price of gasoline directly into the pockets of oil companies. (An estimated $10 billion in transportation revenue would be lost, or enough to fully fund Amtrak rail service for 6 years or so.) Meanwhile, we fall farther behind in maintaining our infrastructure: Rust doesn’t take the summer off.

But that’s not all. To coincide with McCain’s photo-op in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward today, Moveon.org Political Action launched its own online petition calling on McCain to reject the endorsement of right-wing pastor John Hagee. I knew about Hagee’s anti-Catholic bigotry, but I wasn’t aware that Hagee once said, “Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.”

Surely there couldn’t be any more shameful news about McCain to emerge within this 24-hour period, right? Wrong. I learned from Natasha Chart’s post at MyDD today that during a recent visit to Alabama, McCain’s campaign used free prison labor to get out of paying to set up for a private fundraiser.

I guess a campaign that is way behind its Democratic rivals in fundraising has to save money wherever it can.

But it would be more honest for McCain to curtail all campaign spending between now and the Republican National Convention this summer, because he is not complying with limits imposed by his decision to take public financing last year.

If I’ve missed any recent disgraceful behavior coming from the McCain camp, please let me know in the comments section.

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What every woman considering McCain needs to know

One of the worst rulings the Roberts Court has handed down was in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. The five-member conservative majority ruled that the plaintiff lost her right to file a discrimination complaint related to unequal pay because she didn’t file the lawsuit within 180 days of the first discriminatory action by her employer.

Never mind that Lilly Ledbetter didn’t know for many years that she was being short-changed by her employer, which was paying male colleagues substantially more for doing the same job.

The U.S. House passed a bill seeking to remedy this egregious ruling last July. The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

would put into law a clarification – wage disparity based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and disability is not a one-time occurrence. Every discriminatory paycheck represents an ongoing violation. Employees would still have 180 days to challenge the discrimination, but from the last check, not the first.

You would think everyone would recognize the value of this bill. Does it make sense for the courts to grant legal immunity to employers that manage to keep their discriminatory behavior a secret for many months? Or does it make sense to allow employees to file a lawsuit within 180 days of the time they have learned about the violations?

The U.S. Senate took up this bill today, and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama took time off from the presidential campaign to go back to Washington and vote for it.

But John McCain skipped the vote. Though 56 Senators voted in favor, Republicans were able to block it with a filibuster. McCain confirmed today that he would have opposed this bill if he’d been in the Senate chamber:

“I am all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind of legislation, as is typical of what’s being proposed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems,” the expected GOP presidential nominee told reporters. “This is government playing a much, much greater role in the business of a private enterprise system.”

Right, he’s “all in favor” of equal pay–he just doesn’t want women who are denied equal pay to be able to seek legal remedy for that discrimination.

Clearly wage discrimination doesn’t bother McCain nearly as much as the idea that we might have more women filing lawsuits against employers who have been cheating them for years.

If you know any women who might lean toward McCain because they think he is a reasonable moderate, let them know about his stand on this issue.

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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

You can find statistics about sexual assault and resources for survivors and those who wish to become counselors at the website of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault:

IowaCASA’s mission is to unite people and organizations to promote a society free from sexual violence and to meet the diverse needs of survivors.

[…] Today, IowaCASA has 27 member sexual assault crisis centers serving survivors of sexual assault throughout Iowa. Eleven staff work on several initiatives including: technical assistance and training to member centers; civil legal assistance for survivors of sexual assault, including immigration assistance; improving responses to sexual assault within communities of color; a training initiative for assisting survivors with developmental disabilities; a national project providing peer-based assistance to other sexual assault coalitions; statewide sexual assault prevention; training for allied professionals; and public policy efforts at the state and national level.

If you or someone you care about is in danger because of an abusive situation, the site provides this advice:

Email is not a safe or confidential way to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life. To discuss a confidential issue please call our office at 515-244-7424 or the statewide Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline at 1-800-284-7821 to be connected to a sexual assault counselor in your area.

I’ve put contact information for all member centers of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault after the jump.

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More events at the Capitol this week

I heard that the nurse-in organized by the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women was a big success yesterday, with about 20 families represented. A friend who was there e-mailed to say:

Rachel Scott with the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women sort of organized us yesterday and wanted us to know that there’s a meeting of the subcommittee on this particular bill – HF2292 – tomorrow morning [Wednesday] at 9:15.  Here’s what she had to say:

“What I need for tomorrow is to have 3 or 4 women to come, especially those who can speak to breastfeeding/ pumping at work or who worked somewhere where a reasonable accommodation was made that they could describe.   Another great thing would be if anyone knows of a small business owner who would come and speak to how easy this is.”

It really is easy to accommodate a woman who needs to express milk, or nurse a child, occasionally during the work day. If you know anyone who can attend this hearing on Wednesday morning, please spread the word.

Rachel Scott can be reached at rachel.scott AT iowa.gov

Meanwhile, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement had their rally and meeting with the governor scheduled for today. If anyone was there, please put up a diary to let us know how it went.

Wednesday is Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa’s lobby day. Here are the details:

Lobby Day is from 9:30 to 4 on Wednesday March 5.

Those unable to attend the entire event can meet us at the capitol between 12:15 and 3pm (you can find us on the second floor in pink and black “Prevention First” t-shirts).

The day will begin at 9:30 in the Botanical Center with a training on citizen lobbying and a briefing on PPGI’s legislative agenda.  Participants will be given a “Prevention First” t-shirt to wear to the capitol and we will break into groups based on legislative district.  We’ll have lunch and take a bus to the capitol where we will be lobbying for the following legislation:

   1.  Healthy Families Initiative: Creates Iowa’s first state fund for contraception for low-income women ( Iowa is currently 48th in the nation in contraceptive accessibility.  Over half of our counties have no family planning center)

   2. HPV Insurance Coverage:  Requires all insurance companies cover the HPV vaccine

One of our most persuasive arguments in the legislature is that voters support these initiatives.  We want to create a strong presence at the capitol and need as many supporters there as possible.  Group lobbying provides a great first-time experience in citizen lobbying.  The day will conclude with a brief reception in the Botanical Center from 3 to 4pm.

Please RSVP to Susan Alexander at salexander AT ppgi.org or (515) 235-0441 or register online at http://www.ppaction.org/ppiowa…  

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Political events coming up this week

I’m going to try to flag political events for the week ahead every weekend. Please send me tips or put up a diary if you know of something interesting about to happen soon.

This Thursday is the “funnel” day, the date that will determine which bills have a chance of advancing this year and which are dead for the session. As a result, a bunch of groups are holding lobby days at the capitol this week.

On Monday, please consider helping the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women build support for a bill that would make it easier for working women to keep breastfeeding. Click the link for details about the “nurse in” at the capitol or how to contact your legislators.

On Tuesday, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement are holding their rally and lobby day. Details can be found in this diary that was posted a few days ago.

Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa is holding its lobby day on Wednesday to push for its “Prevention First” agenda. Click the link to read a post at Blog for Iowa with more details about this event.

On Friday, Windsor Heights Mayor Jerry Sullivan, Democratic candidate for Iowa House district 59, is having a campaign kick-off event at the Ankeny Regional Airport from 5 pm to 8 pm. Weather permitting, short rides on helicopters and small planes will be available at that event. For more information, check out the Sullivan for State Representative website.

I am proud to say that I wrote a check for Sullivan’s campaign a couple of weeks ago.

I encourage everyone to support our candidates for state and local office this year. Your donations go further in those races than they do in a multi-zillion-dollar presidential campaign.

Speaking of which, I recently learned that James Van Bruggen is running against Dwayne Alons in House District 4. Van Bruggen’s campaign website is here.

You may remember Alons for his idiotic comment that global warming is not a problem in light of modern refrigeration and air conditioning, or his baffling observation that global warming may help us by making us stronger and taller, like the ancient Mayans. House District 4 leans strongly Republican, but I am very glad someone has stepped up to challenge Alons.

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