In short, it stunk.
I will just pass on a couple of observations. Over at the Iowa Capital Dispatch Kathie O’Bradovich calls the most recent sessions “small.” She then goes on to explain:
We heard from Republican lawmakers that the recently completed legislative session was “historic.” It sure was — historically small.
With a few exceptions, the major GOP priorities of the legislative session will benefit relatively small numbers of Iowans, in some cases at a gigantic cost to the most vulnerable among us.
O’Bradovich expounds on all the ways in which the rich got richer and the poor got poorer in Iowa:
- Private schools
- Don’t Say Gay
- Public Assistance hurdles
- Special interest goodies such as trucking company lawsuit limits or child labor expansion
She does give them credit for doing something about the huge property tax increases. She also notes at the end that they also left many problems untouched.
Over at Iowa Starting Line, guest columnist state Rep. Sami Scheetz of Cedar Rapids labels the session “the most harmful and destructive in our state’s history.” Scheetz then fleshes his claim out with several points:
A billion-dollar voucher scheme that gives handouts to private schools and wealthy Iowans in our largest, richest cities — legislation that will destroy our rural public schools and accelerate the degradation of our public school system statewide.
A series of laws that attack our LGBTQ youth: book banning; bathroom bills; a ban on life-saving care for transgender children.
Legislation limiting the ability for Iowans who die or are catastrophically injured by medical malpractice or negligent truck drivers to be fully compensated for their losses.
A child labor bill that turns the clock back on worker protections and encourages children to not complete their high school education.
Likely the most harmful bill passed this session: legislation that kicks thousands of working-class Iowans off of their food benefits and takes away health care from close to 1,000 Iowa children. This is at a time when Iowans are facing 40-year price highs for food and basic goods.
We all know that Iowa was frequently cited as what bad legislatures would be doing by news sites and bloggers around the country. What Iowa has become makes me sad for a once great state, but this is what fear and hate leads to.
Meanwhile up north of us in Minnesota we have examples of what progressive government could be. Last Friday Governor Tim Walz signed a bill into law that expanded and simplified voting in the state. The “Democracy For The People Act” also increased transparency of campaign money plus allowed pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds and expanded mail in voting.
This bill came in a session that has seen many progressive ideas become law:
Jan. 31: A bill codifying abortion rights and reproductive health care for all (HF1/SF1).
Jan 31: A bill banning race-based hair discrimination (HF37/SF44).
Feb.7: A bill mandating Minnesota utilities transition to carbon-free energy by 2040 (HF7/SF4).
March 3: A bill restoring voting rights to people still on parole or probation (HF28/SF28).
March 7: A bill allowing undocumented residents to obtain driver’s licenses (HF4/SF27); Minnesota has about 80,000 undocumented residents.
March 16: A bill codifying federal Indian Child Welfare Act language into Minnesota law (HF1071/SF667).
March 17: A bill providing free breakfast and lunch for all Minnesota students in the majority of schools (HF5/SF123).
April 27: A bill banning “conversion therapy” for minors and vulnerable adults (HF16/SF23).
April 27: A bill deeming Minnesota a refuge state for transgender people and protecting them from legal repercussions for traveling to Minnesota for gender-affirming health care (HF146/SF63).
And they are still working on it.
It’s like night and day – regressive Iowa and progressive Minnesota. What a contrast across the border.