Government

Iowa Idol contestant gets capitol support, gender wage gap remains in Iowa, food shaming bill moves on: Iowa Capitol Digest, April 9

Former Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma speaks Monday, April 9, 2018, at the Capitol in Des Moines to urge supporters of a constitutional convention to pressure members of the Iowa Senate to pass House Joint Resolution 12 calling for an Article V convention. (James Q. Lynch/The Gazette)
Former Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma speaks Monday, April 9, 2018, at the Capitol in Des Moines to urge supporters of a constitutional convention to pressure members of the Iowa Senate to pass House Joint Resolution 12 calling for an Article V convention. (James Q. Lynch/The Gazette)

A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Monday, April 9, 2018:

MOVE THE RESOLUTION: Former Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma urged supporters of a constitutional convention to put pressure on members of the Iowa Senate to pass House Joint Resolution 12 calling for an Article V convention.

The Convention of the States rally that drew about 75 people to the Capitol rotunda Monday featured “Move It” boxes that were part of the “move the resolution” theme.

Backers of a constitutional convention want to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution to impose fiscal restraints, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government and request Congress to similarly propose such amendments.

A similar resolution, HJR 11, was approved 58-38 by the House last year, but the Senate has not taken action. The holdup, according to Mark Meckler of Citizens for Self-Governance, is three Republican senators who say they will vote for the resolution if it comes to the floor, but don’t want it to come to the floor.

Coburn called that the “worst kind of politics — politicians who don’t want to take a vote.”

IOWA IDOL: Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, is encouraging Iowans to set aside partisan differences and support Clarksville native Maddie Poppe, who is one of the final 24 competitors on ABC’s “American Idol.”

“I thought it could be something we could all do together and be really excited about,” Upmeyer told her colleagues in a point of personal privilege Monday. She encouraged legislators and House staff to download the “American Idol” app at http://abc.go.com/shows/american-idol/ so they can vote for Poppe to “help a young lady from Iowa be successful.”

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Poppe has been singing since she was a kid and is hoping her style and singer-songwriter format will help her stand out for the judges, according to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. RAGBRAI riders also may know Poppe as she has performed along the route since 2014, when the bike ride passed through Clarksville.

DAY OF ACTION: NextGen America will hold nine #YouthVote Day of Action events across Iowa on Tuesday to register and organize young voters ahead of November’s midterm elections.

At the University of Iowa, organizers say students will rally to protest Donald Trump’s 100th day as president in 2018 and show Iowa Republicans that young voters are ready to hold their representatives accountable and reshape the state’s political landscape.

Seven months ahead of the midterms, young people continue to demand change and organize around issues such as gun violence and immigrant rights, according to officials with NextGen America, which has been conducting organizational activities in Iowa since February.

NextGen America is an environmental advocacy nonprofit and political action committee created in 2013 by former hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer supporting candidates and policies that take action against climate change.

GENDER WAGE GAP: A new analysis issued Monday by the National Partnership for Women & Families found that a woman employed full time, year-round in Iowa typically is paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to a man, which amounts to a yearly pay difference of $11,594.

The state-by-state analysis of U.S. census data released for Equal Pay Day on Tuesday determined that Iowa women lose a combined total of nearly $8.8 billion every year to the gender wage gap. If that gap were closed, on average, a woman working full time in Iowa would be able to afford 85 more weeks of food for her family, nearly 10 more months of mortgage and utilities payments, 1.3 additional years of tuition and fees for a four-year public university, the full cost of tuition and fees for a two-year community college, more than 15.5 additional months of rent or nearly 17 more months of child care each year. Officials with the partnership said Iowa has the 11th largest cents-on-the-dollar gap in the nation based on the latest data analysis.

“Equal Pay Day is a disturbing reminder that women overall have had to work more than three months into 2018 just to catch up with what men were paid in 2017, and black women and Latinas must work considerably further into the year,” said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership. Findings for each state from the National Partnership’s new wage gap analysis are available at NationalPartnership.org/Gap.

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NEW CAMPAIGN PLAY BOOKS: Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said Monday his office is distributing the Cybersecurity Campaign Playbook to more than 300 candidates who filed for federal, statewide and legislative races this year.

The playbook was created by the Defending Digital Democracy Project, a bipartisan initiative at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School. Pate said the Cybersecurity Campaign Playbook is an important document that will provide candidates with basic recommendations to help them prepare for cybersecurity risks, but it is not intended to be a comprehensive reference guide.

“There have been no unauthorized intrusions into Iowa’s elections systems, and we are working with all 99 county auditors to keep it that way,” Pate said in a statement.

FOOD SHAMING: Although supporters said a Senate amendment watered down legislation to prevent “food shaming,” the House voted 95-0 to approve the change and sent HF 2467 to the governor.

HF 2467 will establish guidelines for schools dealing with parents who owe money for school lunches. It will prohibit schools from posting names or otherwise identifying students whose parents owe money for school meals. In some cases, schools have required those students to sit together at tables separate from classmates, do chores to pay for meals or not participate in school activities, lawmakers said.

It also will direct schools to provide information concerning free and reduced-price lunches to parents and enable schools to recoup owed money by garnishing state tax refund or gambling proceeds when appropriate to cover their budgets.

COLD, WET SPRING DELAYS FIELD WORK: Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig says the weather is not cooperating with Iowa farmers’ spring field work plans.

“Another week of cold, wet weather prevented nearly all fieldwork and continued to challenge cow-calf producers,” Naig said in his latest Iowa Crop Progress and Condition report, in which he noted that 4 percent of the oat crop has been planted — more than a week behind last year and the five-year average. “The weather forecast for the next couple of weeks looks mixed, so we are still likely a few weeks out from widespread spring fieldwork,” Naig added.

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There was less than a full day that was suitable for fieldwork last week because of weather conditions, although Naig noted there were isolated reports of grain transport and fertilizer applications. Topsoil moisture levels are rated 2 percent very short, 7 percent short, 76 percent adequate and 15 percent surplus, while subsoil moisture levels are rated 3 percent very short, 12 percent short, 77 percent adequate and 8 percent surplus. Also, livestock conditions continued to be mixed, Naig said, with cold weather and snow hampering early spring pasture growth and continuing to present challenges for calving throughout much of the state.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The only thing keeping us here is that the soil temperature hasn’t gotten up to whatever the critical number is.” — Rep. Guy Vander Linden, R-Oskaloosa, on prospects for concluding the session before farmland is warm enough — at least 50 degrees — for corn planting. It was in the 30s on Monday.

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