The Great American Give-Away

Coyote Natural Bridge, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

The Trump administration is giving away access to our public lands for discovery and exploitation of minerals and fossil fuel reserves. Conservatives and mining interests are setting a place at the table to get their share.

“Trump signed a pair of proclamations late last year reducing the size of the 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent and the 1.87-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by roughly 50 percent,” according to Huffington Post. “It was the largest reduction of national monuments in history, with more than 2 million acres losing protections. Prohibitions on new hard-rock mining claims in those now-unprotected areas were lifted in early February.”

The administration’s assault on national monuments is upsetting on a number of levels. It is the culmination of an effort by conservatives to divest government control over national parks and monuments, something most of us thought was long settled.

It’s not settled at all.

A Canadian mining firm, Glacier Lake Resources, Inc., has staked a claim on land that was, until recently, part of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. The Vancouver-based company said in a press release it plans to mine copper, cobalt, zinc, and other minerals from the Colt Mesa deposit about 35 miles southeast of Boulder, Utah.

On Feb. 2, four members of the Lamoreaux family, which owns a small mineral company called Alpine Gems LLC, staked an 80-acre claim near Butler Valley, southeast of Cannonville. On May 9, Alpine Gems staked three 20-acre claims in that same area.

Last week, Utah Senator Mike Lee introduced the Protecting Utah’s Rural Economy Act in the Congress. He explained in an opinion piece he wrote for the Deseret News. Here are two excerpts that provide the gist of it:

The looming danger for Utah’s rural communities comes from the Antiquities Act of 1906, which was originally intended to protect objects of historic and cultural interest, such as artifacts and religious sites.

Unfortunately, what was once a narrowly targeted tool for preventing looting on federal lands has become a weapon of faraway elites to use against hardworking rural Americans.

That is why I am introducing the Protect Utah’s Rural Economy, or PURE, Act. This bill would protect Utah from future abuses under the Antiquities Act by prohibiting the president from establishing or expanding a national monument in Utah unless the proposed monument has been authorized by an act of Congress and the state Legislature.

Rural Americans want what all Americans want: a dignified, decent-paying job, a family to love and support and a healthy community whose future is determined by local residents — not their self-styled betters thousands of miles away.

Lee’s argument is a genome away from political theorist and the seventh vice president of the United States John C. Calhoun’s arguments in support of slavery and state’s rights. Calhoun is remembered for defending slavery and for advancing the concept of minority rights in politics, which he did in the context of defending white Southern interests from perceived Northern threats, according to Wikipedia.

The Wilderness Society is challenging Trump’s proclamations in court and monitoring the progress of the mineral companies seeking to extract minerals. It may not be enough.

Read more about The Wilderness Society’s efforts to protect our wild areas and fight back against the anti-conservationist movement at wilderness.org. If you are in a position to help financially, here is a link to donate to the Wilderness Society.

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Thomas Frank To Read At Prairie Lights

What’s the Matter With Kansas and Listen, Liberal author and journalist Thomas Frank will read from his new book of essays, Rendezvous With Oblivion: Reports from a Sinking Society on July 18 at 7 p.m. at Prairie Lights Bookstore Iowa City.

What does a middle-class democracy look like when it comes apart? When, after forty years of economic triumph, America’s winners persuade themselves that they owe nothing to the rest of the country.  For those who despair of the future of our country and of reason itself, Rendezvous with Oblivion is a booster shot of energy, reality, and moral outrage.

Thomas Frank is a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal and Harper’s, the founding editor of The Baffler and writes regularly for The Guardian. He lives outside Washington, D.C.

“A decade of fraud, exploitation, and hypocrisy gets mercilessly dissected in these caustic essays.  . . . In several trenchant pieces probing Donald Trump’s rise, Frank avoids simplistic claims of voter bigotry and instead emphasizes issues of trade, economic decline, and the Democrats’ abandonment of the working class for a politics of centrist neoliberalism. Frank’s combination of insightful analysis, moral passion, and keen satirical wit make these essays both entertaining and an important commentary on the times.” — PW starred review

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Hubbell Promises To Restore Medicaid. Thank You!

Hubbell Hart

Rita Hart and Fred Hubbell

 

As many have read we have been navigating the health care system with an elderly relative for the past couple of months. What we have found has been very problematic. You can find my most recent post on this just down the page.

Our health care system grew into a disjointed sprawl over many decades. Obamacare was a good first step in reigning in some of the problems. Unfortunately Republicans wasted little time in taking sledge hammers and ball peen hammers to the program.

One of the sledge hammers here in Iowa was the Branstad / Reynolds administration turning Medicaid administration over to fumbling, bumbling private companies whose focus is profits, not patient outcomes.

This not only affect the direct medicaid patients, but the cutback in payments to doctors and hospitals have forced them to make cuts to their services which has hurt all patients.

So we were very happy to see Candidate Fred Hubbell come out with a forceful statement that he will work from day 1 to bring Medicaid back under state control

That gets at least 6 votes in my family right there. Nearly every family in the state has been affected by the Reynolds / Branstad Medicaid policy and I haven’t read of any that have been affected in a positive way.

So thanks to the Hubbell – Hart team. This is the change real Iowans are looking for

Posted in #trumpresistance, 2018 Election Campaign, Blog for Iowa, Branstad, Kim Reynolds | Tagged | Leave a comment

Sunday Funday: And It’s Fair Season Edition

Image (1) countyfair01-big.jpg for post 26323

The middle of July and it is time for county fairs. These slice of Americana are often one of the core events in a county every year. In agricultural states they are the high water mark of the calendar year. This is the time when animals, crops and handmade goods are judged for their worthiness to go on to the state fair competition. Often a full year of work gets is on the line when the judges make their choices.

When fairs began and prospered in this state there was no electricity, cars or trucks or other modern conveniences. As the world has progressed especially in recent years, the pull of the county fair for most citizens has waned. Where the fair was once one of the few places where a person could view new gadgets we can now do that instantly on our phones any time of any day.

Yet a day at the local fair is always a day that will be memorable. A place to eat foods you would never eat elsewhere, see old friends, catch some free entertainment under a shady tree and maybe score a prize for one of the kids. You can also view the prize winning work of your friends and neighbors that exhibit everything from calves to pies and flowers.

A day at the fair will also be magical for the kids and they gaze at the food wagons, take in the bright lights and ride the big rides. Have Fun at your local fair in the next few weeks!

Yet another WTH week.

  1. One of the most beloved Iowans, what former governor died last Sunday at age 89?
  1. In a mockery of a congressional hearing what FBI agent was grilled by hostile Republican congress members?
  1. Hey, another presidential pardon! What fine upstanding citizens were pardoned this week?
  1. Kim Jung Un made a fool our Secretary of State last week. North Korea released a photo of Kim visiting where instead of negotiating with Pompeo?
  1. In a public statement at the NATO summit our Dear Leader publicly claimed what country was “a captive of Russia?”
  1. Due to public demonstrations against him, Dear Leader had to forego a trip to what international capitol?
  1. In a real surprise what small Balkan country finds its soccer team in the championship World Cup game today?
  1. No matter what, what will be significant about the new Justice that will be appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court this fall?
  1. Iowa Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell promised last week to restore what program to state control?
  1. Indictments were handed down for what group on Friday as announce by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein?
  1. The US not only opposed what UN resolution but threatened trade sanctions on some countries that support the resolution?
  1. Among the most inspiring news of the week and maybe for years was the story of the rescue of the Thailand soccer team from a flooded what?
  1. In Britain, what former London Mayor and Foreign minister left the Theresa May cabinet as her government got shakier and shakier?
  1. Speaking of Britain, a group of protesters flew a huge balloon of who as a baby in a diaper as that world leader visited Britain?
  1. In an interview with the Sun newspaper in Britain, Dear Leader claimed he had better poll numbers than what earlier Republican president?
  1. Brett Kavanaugh was nominated by Dear Leader for SCOTUS Monday. Kavanaugh is probably the only judge in America who believes that a sitting what should not be bothered by legal matters?
  1. What pizza magnate resigned as board chair following another racial slur incident?
  1. What inmate in the Russian probe lost his VIP jail accommodations when he complained that the location interfered with his ability to prepare for his trial?
  1. Dawn Sturgess died in Britain after exposure to a nerve agent known to be used by what country?
  1. What high administration official came to Iowa last week and gave little but lip service to Iowa farmers beset by administration trade policies?

Heard on the radio:

“Vote Republican for your boss’s boss. Vote Democratic for your children’s children.”

Answers:

  1. Robert D. Ray
  1. Peter Strzok
  1. In Oregon, Dwight and Steven Hammond who set fires on public lands were pardoned.
  1. A potato farm
  1. Germany
  1. London
  1. Croatia
  1. The new justice will be a woman as all candidates are women. The current Iowa SC is all male
  1. Medicaid – thank you Fred!
  1. 12 Russian intelligence officers
  1. A resolution to promote breastfeeding
  1. Cave
  1. Boris Johnson
  1. Dear Leader
  1. Abraham Lincoln
  1. President – lucky for Dear Leader that Kavanaugh believes that
  1. Papa John Schnatter
  1. Paul Manafort
  1. Russia –  it was the same agent that nearly killed the Skripals
  1. VP Mike Pence
Trump in Europe

once again a tip of the hat to democraticunderground.com

Posted in #trumpresistance, 2018 Election Campaign, Blog for Iowa, Humor | Leave a comment

Dan Rather Facebook Post 7/13/2018

Dan_Rather

pic from wikipedia

From Dan Rather’s facebook page:

From the farce of yesterday’s hearing on Capitol Hill (“oversight” by mendacity) to the spectacle in Great Britain (a President’s destabilizing, unstable, and racist interview) to the trailing exhaust of American leadership left in Brussels (with a friend like the U.S. who needs… Russia?) to what awaits in Helsinki (a bromance with a wily KGB agent), what we are witnessing is far beyond the realm of this reporter to put into full context. 

I doubt Dante could imagine the circles in which we find ourselves. P.T. Barnum couldn’t figure out a way to sell it. And Rod Serling would shake his head in disbelief. All metaphors are rendered largely impotent – be they circus, swamp, or dumpster fire – because they seem to understate the sheer dangerous absurdity of it all. There can be no individual accounting of all damage. 

I surmise this is what in some ways passes for the strategy of the President and his accomplices. See how many reactionary judges they can install, how many loopholes for the rich and connected they can construct, how many protections to health, water and air they can shred before the inevitable backlash. 

I list all of this not to sow the seeds of hopelessness. Quite the contrary. That is what the forces of authoritarianism wish – that they can launch a reclamation of the Gilded Age on the backs of a demoralized majority. But I have seen these types of actors before. I have seen these odds. They cannot understand that the forces of goodness can channel a fury of righteousness and action. The time for slumber is over. No one can ever argue that elections do not have consequences. Even with the hurdles they are erecting to democracy no President and no political party, no matter how cynical they may be, is bigger than the country at large. 

Editor’s comment:

The goal of Trumppublicans was to disrupt. This was not stated by Dear Leader. His job was to lie and keep resistance tamped down.

Steve Bannon and others expressed the real goal of disruption. So far they have tremendously disrupted our country and our individual lives.

Could you have imagined two years ago that we would have a president under investigation for treason? That our allies would be seen as our enemies and our enemies as our allies. Who could have thought that NATO would be a punching bag for a US president? That we would be breaking trading partnerships with our closest and most trusted allies? 

We all knew that Obamacare would be a major target as would Roe v. Wade. But who could have imagined that soybean farmers and pork producers would also be targets. It is little surprise for a Trumppublican administration to open the treasury and hand it off to their rich donors, but who thought they would kick the teeth of their base in?

Racism is making a huge and very open comeback. Everyday we see a new video of attacks on people of color with racist language and often using police to act as a quasi military against people of color. 

Every cabinet official was chosen not because of their expertise in a given area but specifically for their animosity to the area they were charged with. Betsy DeVos at Education and Scott Pruitt at the EPA may be the worst, but others are not far behind.

But who, two years ago, could ever have imagined that our government would be jailing babies? That out government would be ripping families apart never to be united again. The specter of babies being hauled into court at age 1 to defend themselves is beyond absurd – yet it is reality in America today.

So we have an election on November 6th. You can accept today’s reality and vote for Trumppublicans or not vote. Not voting is a vote for what is happening. Or you can get off your butts today and get to work to end this madness. There are candidates in nearly every race from the county courthouse to the statehouse and congress that are standing up to say “ENOUGH!”

They need workers, they need money and they need your vote and that of your friends. 

If you don’t just try to imagine what else could be coming. Maybe your children in jail? You may laugh, but did you ever imagine what is going on at the border in your name?

If you think this could never happen to US citizens, let me tell you about the citizens of Puerto Rico who have been abandoned by their government in a time of greatest need.

Posted in #trumpresistance, 2018 Election Campaign, Blog for Iowa | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Dismantling Healthcare In The US

Image (1) medicare-cutoff-question.jpg for post 14844

As I wrote last week we have been deeply involved in the health care system as an elderly relative seems to be entering the latter stages of life. 

What a goddamned mess. It is so hard to believe that Americans have gone through such a totally discombobulated system without near riots. We were at that point during the 2008 presidential campaign when the combination of outrageous costs, pre-existing conditions, disjointed care, bankruptcies caused by health care bills led to the health care system being one of the top issues.

Ten years later and hundreds of thousands of hours of media blitz against Obamacare, attacks in courts and nibbling away at state levels we are almost back in the same situation once again. Now that our Dear Leader has a candidate for the SCOTUS who is known to be totally opposed to government involvement in healthcare crashing not just Obamacare but other areas of healthcare as well. Think of chipping away at Medicare and Medicaid through the courts.

Add into that the “progress” the right has made over the years in chipping away at a woman’s right to choose since the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade. Iowa now has the most restrictive abortion restrictions in the country on the books and going through the court system. There is a very good chance that Iowa’s bill may end up as the test case to overturn Roe.

Then just to add insult, the current administration announced last Saturday evening – the Saturday of a holiday weekend – that they would be cutting billions paid to insurers from other insurers to even out the risk costs. This is not “government” money. The Hill does a great job of explaining how this will scare insurers and probably drastically raise premiums:

The flurry of activity is the result of a surprise announcement Saturday by the administration that it had suspended $10.4 billion in funding that is supposed to be paid to insurers to help them provide coverage to particularly sick and costly enrollees.

Insurers denounced the move.

“This action will significantly increase 2019 premiums for millions of individuals and small-business owners and could result in far fewer health plan choices,” Scott Serota, CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, said in a statement. “It will undermine Americans’ access to affordable coverage, particularly those who need medical care the most.”

With that as background we continue to try to do what is right for our elderly relative. This has involved 4 or 5 trips to the ER that are certainly costly not to mention hard on a body. It has also involved a change of nursing homes. Some of the care here has been, shall we say kindly, not up to snuff causing discomfort for the patient and some confrontational moments.

And at every stop along the path there is a little cop of sorts that hops out and screams “payment first!” Well that is hyperbole, but it feels like it. “How will you pay? How will you pay? Over and over.

We have the presentation of the insurance papers – one of those “privatized” Medicare policies that seems to put a scare into every one that sees it. Then after the various treatments have been administered here comes the insurance specter once again to hover over the process. The specter acts like a presence that constantly nags “get her out of the hospital. Don’t pay one penny extra! Coverage ends today at noon!” 

Once we went to visit in the hospital and found her just being loaded into a van for a trip back to the nursing home without any notification to us. Just this week we arrange a discharge plan for the next day only to be called on our way home to be told that insurance would not cover her after noon so she had already been transferred back to the nursing home. 

The patient has seemingly been tossed back and forth like a bag of beans. Then we got a call from the nursing home informing us that her status had been changed. This resulted in some additional charges and they needed some money up front – today.

Just think – our patient had done some planning and had insurances and plans. I shudder to think what a person who had one of the new crap policies that Iowa is selling now would do. Medicaid has changed drastically in this state. Branstad and Reynold’s privatization has dried up much of those funds and put it into the hands of businesses instead of providing patient care.

Along with having fewer funds available for Medicaid patients, the privatized Medicaid organizations have not been paying bills on time, paying at lower rates or denying claims after services have been rendered. Thus hospitals across the state have had to eat millions of dollars in costs that have not been reimbursed. All they can do is cut back on personnel and services. This can make a hospital stay traumatic at times.

In a previous life I helped design a flow chart of our business. The object of this exercise was to identify stopping points in our system that added costs and decreased service to the customer. Certainly the ideal flow would be from the manufacturing line to the customer with no stops except the loading and unloading of the transport truck. No warehousing, no moving it around between warehouses or inside warehouses or any other handling or processing that would add costs without adding benefits.

Applying this in our situation, the ideal would be to get the patient in a care system where the patients needs are the focal point of the system. When there is need to move the patient for extra care, all costs are covered and a plan is made and executed with input from the family. The patient’s health is always top concern. Thus moves, change of medications, health care personnel are all planned as best as is possible. The system should be set up so that money concerns are eliminated. There is simply a continuous alignment toward a good health end.

I am told this is how many countries have their single payer systems aligned. I understand this is the concept behind the team concept at the Mayo Clinic.

Instead our current system is similar to the Middle Ages where castles with moats and drawbridges are erected. Every time a patient must go to a different castle their must be a tribute paid. At the end of the visit, communications between castles may or may not happen. 

America has lots of very smart and talented people yet we let this non-system that seems to be set up for the benefit of the insurance companies just clunk along. The people who are in charge of making these changes seem to be captives of the insurance companies. 

Health care needs to be a top priority this election. If it isn’t it may be even more dismantled by 2020. Do you want to bet your life on it? Because that is already what is being done!

And if all that isn’t enough, Monday HHS is planning on deleting 20 years of critical medical guidelines. Don’t believe it? Read it and weep here. If we leave Republicans in charge expect bleeding as a medical procedure to make a comeback.   

Posted in #trumpresistance, 2018 Election Campaign, Blog for Iowa, Branstad, Health Care & Medicare, Kim Reynolds, Medicare | Tagged | Leave a comment

Important Changes In Early Voting

With Iowa’s new voter ID law the rules changed for early voting.

Here’s good information from Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert about the new rules. I modified the press release to make it applicable statewide.

It’s less than 120 days until the Nov. 6 election, and voters may now request mailed absentee ballots. Request forms are available on the Secretary of State website where a page is devoted to early voting. The site can be found here. Ballots will be mailed beginning Oct. 8, which is also the first day for in-person early voting.

Note that under the new voter ID law, absentee ballot request forms must include the correct ID number. There is not an “oath” option for mailed absentee ballots – if you do not provide the correct ID number, the auditor cannot mail you a ballot.

If you have an Iowa Driver’s license or Iowa non-driver ID you are required to list that number.  If you don’t have an Iowa license or non-driver ID, use the PIN number from your voter card. (Voters with an Iowa license or non-driver ID do not have a PIN number). The auditor cannot accept the last four digits of a Social Security number on an absentee ballot request.

Voters should visit their county auditor web site or call them with any questions. The Secretary of State provides contact information for all 99 Iowa counties here.

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Help For Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Photo Credit – Campaign Website

A lot of pixels have been spilled over the primary election win of Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on June 26.

Regardless of the methods of her election or her platform — or the buzz around beating 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th Congressional District — if she wins in November she will be one of 435 members of the House of Representatives.

To get anything done, she will need help from other legislators as she attempts to carry the momentum from her district to the Congress. What help can she expect?

Establishment Democrats

“Establishment Democrats” is shorthand that rose to common usage during the 2016 primary season to serve as the whipping boy for all that was perceived to be wrong with the Democratic Party. Think of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz or maybe John Podesta. To the extent members of congress have been categorized as part of the establishment, I believe Ocasio-Cortez will find more common ground with them than not. In any case, she could take a lesson from establishment pol in chief Hillary Clinton when it comes to legislating. Become less a personality in the Congress and more someone willing to work hard to find common ground on issues that matter as Hillary did when she was elected to the U.S. Senate from New York. If she does this, such establishment Democrats as there are will reciprocate.

Hispanic Caucus

The Hispanic caucus has been welcoming despite being more conservative than Ocasio-Cortez. One of her signature policies is abolishing ICE and she outlined a process within the caucus to legislate it.

“What we can do is — I’m unafraid to champion a really bold and strong stance in the sand, and what that does is give us an anchor, a negotiating point,” she said. “I think the abolishment of ICE makes a lot of sense, and I’m willing to have those conversations and figure out how we get that done as a caucus.”

Abolishing ICE is a lightning rod that could diminish Ocasio-Cortez’ influence. I predict regardless of the outcome of abolishing ICE, media (and not just FOX News) will paint her as either a hero or the goat soon after the 116th Congress convenes based on this sole issue. A competent legislator will find there are a lot of ways to shave ice. The Congress has been unwilling to address immigration and naturalization since the Reagan administration. If the time has come, I believe Ocasio-Cortez and the Hispanic caucus will be part of it, bringing new energy and ideas to the stale debate.

Democratic Leader

More than anyone in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi knows how to count votes. While Ocasio-Cortez indicated she may vote for someone else as speaker/leader if elected, unseating Pelosi seems unlikely in the 116th Congress. That means Ocasio-Cortez will have to develop a relationship with her to get anything done. She would be foolish not to.

For Iowa Democrats who worked on many campaigns, it was great to see someone use the skills and techniques in the progressive activists kit bag to win big against an entrenched incumbent. Winning in November looks like a cake walk in Ocasio-Cortez’ heavily Democratic district. Assuming she wins, her real work will begin in the 116th Congress. She will find plenty of Democratic help among liberals, centrists, conservatives and everyone in between.

Adrian Carrasquillo wrote about Ocasio-Cortez’ potential relationship with the Hispanic Caucus at The Intercept here.

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Elect Fred Hubbell – Rita Hart

Rita Hart and Fred Hubbell Photo Credit Hubbell Campaign

Since Iowa Democrats picked Fred Hubbell as their nominee for governor he’s honed his message to a few major issues. In a recent letter Hubbell wrote,

I want to be clear about one thing: I’m not just running against Governor Reynolds and her failed record. I’m running for the people of Iowa. All of Iowa. I’m running on a vision to get Iowa growing the right way and a record of bringing people together to get things done. We’ve got to turn this state around and we don’t have time to waste.

We are all Iowans and we stand united by a simple vision — that if we invest in the future, the people of our great state will benefit.

Hubbell’s priorities are straight forward: make Iowa first in education again; get incomes rising across our state; restore funding to Planned Parenthood; improve our health care system, including mental health; invest in renewable energy; preserve our topsoil; address water and air quality concerns; and restore workers’ rights.

“Blue waves are not automatic; they must be created,” Hubbell said. “It’s on us to make sure every voter has the opportunity to engage with our campaign and hear our vision for Iowa.”

Consider this an invitation to get involved with the Hubbell-Hart campaign.

Check out the Hubbell-Hart website at fredhubbell.com.

Sign up for campaign updates here.

Sign up to volunteer here.

Make a monetary donation here.

“I know we can take back Terrace Hill, but we can’t take it for granted,” Hubbell said. “Can we count on you to join the team today? With your help we can win in November.”

Posted in 2018 Election Campaign | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

2018 Iowa Legislature In Review

State Senator Rob Hogg

Spirit of Citizenship 2018
2018 Legislature in Review
By State Senator Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids
Find bills at www.legis.iowa.gov

More Damage to Iowa’s Working Families, Health Care, Women’s Health, Seniors, Students, Public Safety, and Natural Resources

After the devastation from the 2017 legislative session, the Republican majority in the Iowa Legislature and Governor Reynolds continued to pass legislation that hurts Iowa’s working families, health care, women’s health, seniors, students, public safety, and natural resources. After eight years of the Branstad and Reynolds Administrations, they made significant cuts to vital services and public investments.

Working Families

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds continued to hurt Iowa workers and their families by making more mid-year budget cuts to education, human services, public safety, and natural resources (SF2117), by cutting income taxes for the wealthiest at the expense of working families (SF2417), and by taking away local control over lease-purchase construction projects to the detriment of local workers (HF2253).
The tax bill (SF2417) made larger income tax cuts – in actual dollars and as a percentage – for the highest income earners than for lower-wage workers. For example, the average 2019 income tax cut for the 2,616 taxpayers making $1 million a year or more is expected to be $18,773, or 15.0%, while a worker making $40,000 a year is expected to receive an average tax cut of $92, or only 8.9%. In addition, the tax bill is expected to raise sales taxes by $132.5 million in 2019. Overall, the state will lose over $400 million in income tax revenue, with a total revenue loss of $255 million in 2019, which will lead to even more Republican budget cuts in the future.

These bad bills came on top of the 2017 session during which the Republican majority reduced the minimum wage for 65,000 Iowans (HF295); circumvented “Buy American” and “prevailing wage” rules for road projects (HF203); created barriers and reduced workers compensation for all future injured workers (HF518); took away local control over worker qualifications for construction projects (SF438); and took away collective bargaining rights from state and local public service workers (teachers, firefighters, police, sanitation workers, etc.) (HF291).

Health Care, including Women’s Health

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds passed the most extreme abortion ban in the country (SF359). This came on top of the 2017 legislative session in which they passed a three-day waiting period (SF471) and took away access to Planned Parenthood and other health care providers for birth control, cancer screenings, and other preventive health services by making those providers ineligible for the family planning program (HF653).

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds took away state matching funds for graduate medical education at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Broadlawns, forcing both institutions to cover $8.1 million in non-federal medical school costs (SF2418). This attack on hospitals can on top of 2017, in which hospital reimbursement was cut $27 million (HF653). That funding was not restored in 2018 (SF2418).

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds cut public health by $662,000 (SF2117) and did not restore any funding for addictive disorder treatment (SF2418). State funding for addictive disorder treatment has been cut by $3.7 million since FY16, with an ongoing cut of $2.5 million, or 9% less. (Compare “notes on bills and amendments” for HF2460 in 2016 with SF2418 in 2018).

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds allowed certain agricultural organizations to sell non-insurance health plans that allow discrimination against pre-existing conditions (SF2349). This came after 2017 legislation that took away outreach for the state’s children’s health care programs (HAWK-I and Medicaid) from Iowa’s tax forms (HF625).

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds cut the resource centers at Glenwood and Woodward by a total of $1.7 million, (SF2418), and continued the prior cuts to our two remaining mental health institutes. In 2017, the two mental health facilities (Cherokee and Independence) were cut by $1.7 million (HF653).

Seniors, Children, Families, and Veterans

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds made even more cuts to aging services ($110,012) (SF2117). Since the original budget for FY2017, aging services have been cut by $1.73 million, or over 12%. (Compare “Notes on Bills and Amendments” for SF2418 in 2018 with HF2460 in 2016).

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds cut additional funds for health facility inspections including nursing homes (SF2117/SF2416). Overall, they cut $550,000 from inspections in 2017-18, with an ongoing cut of $357,351 since FY2016 (Compare “notes on bills and amendments” for SF2314 (2016) with SF2416).

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds cut an additional $4.3 million from the Department of Human Services (SF2117). Overall, DHS field operations including child support recovery have now been cut by more than $12 million on an ongoing basis since FY2015, or by more than 16%. (Compare “Notes on Bills and Amendments” for SF2418 in 2018 with HF2460 in 2016).

In 2017, the Republican majority cut veterans home ownership assistance by 20% or $500,000 (HF653). In 2018, they did not restore any of that cut to veterans’ home ownership (SF2418).

Education

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds continued to hurt our students by short-changing our public schools with the second lowest funding increase (1%) in history of the school funding formula (HF2230). This came on top of the third lowest level (1.1%) in 2017 (SF166).

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds again made mid-year cuts to our community colleges ($500,000) and our universities ($10.9 million) (SF2117). These cuts came on top of major cuts to our community colleges and our universities in 2017 (SF130/HF642). Overall, since the original appropriation in FY17, the University of Iowa has been cut $20.7 million, or 9%, Iowa State University has been cut $16.9 million, or 9%, and the University of Northern Iowa has been cut $3.3 million, or 3.4%. (Compare “notes on bills and amendments” for SF2415 in 2018 with SF2323 in 2016). For the University of Iowa and Iowa State University, funding is now at its lowest levels in actual dollars since 1998.

In addition to the cuts to our community colleges and our universities, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds made additional cuts to the College Student Aid Commission (SF2117/SF2415), which now receives $3.1 million less than it did in the original FY17 appropriation for student financial aid, and $6.7 million less than in FY15. (Compare “notes on bills and amendments” for SF2415 in 2018 with SF2323 in 2016).

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds again cut vocational rehabilitation with a mid-year cut of $54,472 (SF2117). Vocational rehabilitation is now receiving $248,000 less than was appropriated in FY17, or 4% less. (Compare “notes on bills and amendments” for SF2415 in 2018 with SF2323 in 2016.)
In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds cut the Department of Education ($784,000) which included more cuts to Early Childhood Iowa (SF2117). They did not restore the $1 million cut they made in 2017 (HF642).

Public Safety

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds continued to make cuts that jeopardize public safety. They cut an additional $3.4 million from corrections (SF2117). This comes on top of cuts to corrections in 2017 (SF130/SF509) as well as cuts to services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault (SF509). Overall, corrections has been cut $16.3 million over two years, and $3.3 million on an ongoing basis, jeopardizing safety in prisons and leading to higher recidivism from loss of post-release community supervision and services. (Compare “notes on bills and amendments” for HF2458 in 2016 and HF2492 in 2018).

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds continued to make cuts ($1.6 million) to our courts, which play an important role in preventing crime through juvenile services and specialty courts (SF2117). Overall, our courts have lost $7.6 million over two years and $1.1 million on an ongoing basis (See “notes on bills and amendments” for SF130/SF508 in 2017 and SF2117/HF2495 in 2018).

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds hurt public safety by passing a so-called “anti-sanctuary city” bill, which is really an unfunded mandate on local government to assist with immigration enforcement, jeopardizing law enforcement relationships with immigrant communities (SF481).

In 2018, the Republican majority also passed a proposed Constitutional amendment for broader gun rights than provided by the Second Amendment (HJR2009). This amendment would have to be passed again in the next General Assembly to go to voters in 2020. This proposed amendment is on top of a bill the Republican majority passed in 2017 to allow expanded use of deadly force, the so-called “stand your ground” bill (HF517).

Water, Energy, and Natural Resources

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds attacked clean energy sources for the first time, ending long-time bipartisan support for clean energy jobs. This attack included a bill that will slash utility energy efficiency investments by over $100 million per year starting in 2019 (SF2311) and a provision to take away the general commercial property tax rollback for new wind energy projects (HF2502).

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds made even more cuts to the Department of Natural Resources ($123,000) (SF2117) and to the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) Program ($2 million) (HF2491). This comes on top of cuts in 2017. Overall, REAP has been cut by $6 million, or 37%, since the original FY17 appropriation, and the DNR has been cut $1.7 million since the FY16 appropriation. (Compare “notes on bills and amendments” for HF2491 in 2018 with SF494 in 2015.) This includes a cut of $115,000, or 5.7%, to the DNR for floodplain management. These cuts also come on top of the elimination of funding for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the elimination of the Watershed Improvement Review program in 2017 (SF510).

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds cut the Iowa Flood Center an additional $28,778, for a total ongoing cut of $328,778, or 21.9% of total funding (SF2415).

After cutting the Iowa Flood Center, the DNR, the DNR floodplain program, REAP, Watershed Improvement, and the Leopold Center, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds promised they would provide additional funding for the voluntary clean water program in the future (SF512). That promise is another Republican bait-and-switch in the making, with no watershed approach and no monitoring or accountability for results.

Voting Rights

In 2018, the Republican majority and Gov. Reynolds targeted voters in Linn and Polk Counties by making it harder for them to vote for County supervisors county-wide, rather than by districts, by imposing a two-thirds vote requirement on those two counties to choose county-wide elections (HF2372). This comes on top of their attack on voting rights in 2017 by imposing multiple new government barriers to voting, including restrictive and costly identification requirements and more restrictive absentee voting periods (HF516).

Key Bad Bills from 2017 (see www.legis.iowa.gov)

SF130 – Made major mid-year budget cuts for our community colleges and our universities, courts, corrections, public safety, and human services, and emptied the Cultural Trust Fund
SF166 – Short-changed Iowa’s public school students with third lowest school aid funding level (1.11%)
SF438 – Prohibited local governments from using pre-qualification for project bidders
SF471 – Mandated three-day waiting period before abortions can be obtained
SF509 – Cut state funding for services to survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault by 26% ($1.7 million cut) and made additional cuts to corrections ($7.3 million total cut)
SF510 – Ended funding for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State, eliminated Watershed Improvement Review program, and slashed REAP natural resource funding by 25% ($4 million cut)
HF203 – Circumvented “Buy American” and “prevailing wage” rules for road projects
HF291 – Took away collective bargaining rights from more than 180,000 public service workers
HF295 – Took away local minimum wage increases for 65,000 Iowa workers
HF516 – Created new government barriers to voting, issued costly new voter cards (cost: $700,000+)
HF517 – Allowed expanded use of deadly force, even when a court or jury finds it was not reasonable
HF518 – Created barriers and reduced compensation for injured workers
HF625 – Reduced outreach for our children’s health insurance program (HAWK-I)
HF640 – Cut funds for nursing home inspections ($270,000 cut)
HF642 – Made deeper cuts to university funding (total $24M cut – for University of Iowa and Iowa State University, now lowest level since 1998), cut Iowa Flood Center ($300K cut); cut early childhood programs ($1M cut), and cut vocational rehabilitation for workers with disabilities ($300K cut)
HF653 – Cut field operations for department of human services, reducing child abuse and elder abuse investigations (over $10M cut); cut hospital reimbursements ($27 million); cut veterans home ownership assistance by 20% ($500K cut); cut two remaining mental health institutions ($1.7M cut); and made Planned Parenthood and other health care providers ineligible for family planning program

Key Bad Bills from 2018 (see www.legis.iowa.gov)

SF359 – Ban all abortions after detection of fetal heartbeat (approximately six weeks)
SF481 – Mandated cooperation with ICE on informal detainer requests – so-called “anti-sanctuary city” bill
SF512 – Promise future funding for voluntary clean water practices, but no guarantee of funding, no watershed approach, and no measuring of or accountability for results
SF2117 – More mid-year budget cuts to our community colleges, our universities, vocational rehabilitation, courts, corrections, public health, human services, aging services, and natural resources
SF2311 – Impose 2% cap on utility energy efficiency programs, slashing investment by over $100 million/year
SF2349 – Allow certain agricultural organizations to provide non-insurance health plans that can discriminate
SF2415 – Continued most cuts to our community colleges, our universities, and vocational rehabilitation; did not restore additional mid-year cut to Iowa Flood Center (total cut of $328,778)
SF2416 – Only $50,000 restored toward nursing home inspections (ongoing cut from FY16 of $357,351)
SF2417 – Increase sales tax collections by over $130 million a year; reduce income tax revenue by over $400 million a year which will cause further budget cuts; slash income taxes for million-dollar incomes by average of $18,773 in 2019, while average cut for earners making $40,000 is $92.
SF2418 – Continued 2017 cuts to hospital reimbursement and made Broadlawns and University of Iowa Hospitals pay non-federal share of graduate medical education ($8.1M); addictive disorder funding (substance abuse treatment) has been cut $3.7 million, with an ongoing cut of $2.5M each year
HJR2009 – Constitutional amendment for broader gun rights; no gun regulation unless passes “strict scrutiny”
HF2230 – Shortchanged public school students with 1% funding growth (second lowest in history)
HF2253 – Ban use of lease-purchase agreements by cities and counties that prefer local companies or labor
HF2372 – County districts must use LSA to draw map; for Linn & Polk, 2/3 vote required to elect county-wide
HF2491 – Additional cuts to REAP ($2 million) and DNR; no restoration of DNR floodplain program
HF2492 – Corrections funding: $16.3 million in total cuts in 2017-18; ongoing cut of $3.3M
HF2495 – Judicial Branch funding: $7.6 million in total cuts in 2017-18, ongoing cut is $1.1M
HF2502 – End commercial property tax rollback for new wind energy developments

Posted in 2018 Election Campaign, Iowa Democrats, Iowa Legislature, Iowa legislature 2018, Rob Hogg | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment