Iowa regulator investigating DC group's undisclosed lobbying

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board is seeking further information on Heritage Action for America‘s efforts to lobby state government. The Associated Press was first to report on May 14 that the agency’s top staffer Mike Marshall asked Heritage Action’s executive director Jessica Anderson for details on her Iowa government contacts.

The previous day, leaked video showed Anderson bragging to Heritage donors that her group had “worked quietly” with Iowa lawmakers to help draft and support a new election bill, getting it passed with “little fanfare.”

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Iowa turned down $95 million to test school kids for COVID-19

Governor Kim Reynolds revealed on April 29 that she is sending back $95 million in federal funds designated for testing students for COVID-19.

During a Fox News event featuring Republican governors, Reynolds said of President Joe Biden,

I think he thinks the COVID just started. I just returned 95 million dollars because they sent an additional 95 million dollars to the state of Iowa to get our kids back in the classroom by doing surveillance testing. And I said, “We’ve been in the classroom since August. Here’s your 95 million dollars back.”

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Iowa OSHA's call for "immediate" action on COVID-19 came too late

Eleven weeks after beginning to inspect workplace safety at the Iowa capitol, the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) informed legislative leaders about conditions “that may expose workers to COVID-19 hazards.” OSHA recommended “immediate corrective actions where needed,” as well as a review of safety and health practices “to ensure consistency” with advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines

What took them so long?

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Kim Reynolds bets big on the conservative base

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

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

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

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

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

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Pandering on police budgets won't save Democrats from bad-faith GOP attacks

Some bills are designed to solve real problems, some create the appearance of solving a real problem, and others just cue up attack ads.

So it was with Senate File 479, which passed on March 10 with a large bipartisan majority even though no organizations are lobbying for it.

The bill would make local governments “ineligible to receive any state funds” if they reduced a law enforcement agency’s budget by a larger percentage than the reduction in the government entity’s total budget. While floor managing the measure, Republican State Senator Chris Cournoyer said, “This is not the time to cut funding” for law enforcement. She claimed the bill would “keep our communities and our citizens safe” and asked colleagues to “show their strong support for law enforcement with a yes vote.”

Ten Democrats–Tony Bisignano, Nate Boulton, Bill Dotzler, Eric Giddens, Kevin Kinney, Jim Lykam, Liz Mathis, Amanda Ragan, Jackie Smith, and Todd Taylor–joined the 31 Republicans present to approve the legislation.

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