Iowa Politics

Gage Skidmore

President Trump returns from Asia to political turmoil. 

On this edition of River to River, political analysts Steffen Schmidt of Iowa State University and Scott Peters of the University of Iowa discuss: Republican efforts to stay focused on a tax overhaul; the House and Senate visions for tax reform and the latest effort as part of it to repeal the health insurance mandate; Jeff Sessions' testimony on Russia meetings; and the Justice Department weighing a Clinton investigation. 

John Pemble/IPR

Governor Kim Reynolds has been in office for five months.  In the first half of this River to River program, host Ben Kieffer asks Reynolds about health care, opioid abuse, partisan politics, and the upcoming legislative session.

To start, Reynolds says she had a number of topics to offer Iowa's congressional delegation. 

She says that she thanked them for support of the Renewable Fuel Standard, and work on healthcare.  Her priorities for next legislative session are getting a water quality bill and having a competitive bushiness environment.

Ali Zifan / wikipedia, creative commons

Election night 2016 put Iowa's divisions on display. The state was a sea of red dotted with blue islands representing Iowa's largest metro areas. Iowans talk a lot about the rural urban divide. But voting in the presidential election allowed those divisions to be mapped. On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbes talks with experts about the economic, political, and social differences between Iowa's rural and urban areas.

DACA's Effect in Iowa

Oct 10, 2017
Image courtesy of Pax Ahimsa Gethen

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an immigration policy created with an executive order of President Barack Obama in 2012.  It allows children of illegal immigrants to receive a two-year deferred action from deportation, and it grants them work permits.

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The chairman of the Pottawattamie County Republican Party is urging GOP members to attend a lecture this week by a controversial speaker who will warn of the threat international Muslim extremist groups pose in the Midwest. 

But the county’s GOP Central Committee voted against sponsoring the event, and a Muslim advocacy group is speaking out against it.

County GOP Chairman Jeff Jorgensen invited John Guandolo, a speaker sponsored by the Global Faith Institute in Omaha.  

Iowa Legislature

One of the Democratic candidates for Governor is leaving the crowded field. State Representative Todd Prichard of Charles City says he is suspending his campaign and will instead seek reelection to the Iowa House of Representatives. He did not endorse any of the other seven candidates, saying in a release he “looks forward to supporting progressive candidates at all levels of the Democratic ticket.”

Ross Wilburn

A former mayor of Iowa City is entering the Democratic race for governor. Fifty-two-year-old Ross Wilburn is formally making the announcement that he is joining the field of seven other Democrats Monday at the Iowa State Fair. Wilburn is a native of Davenport and was the first African-American elected mayor of Iowa City in 2006. He served just one term, but was on the city council for 12 years. 

Alex Hanson / Flickr

Sam Clovis is a well-known name in Iowa, especially in western parts of the state. Clovis has been many things during his life – an F-16 fighter pilot, a defense contractor, a conservative radio host in Sioux City - and then last year, chief policy advisor and national co-chair of the Trump-Pence campaign.

Now he is the White House representative at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in charge of coordinating White House and USDA policy and staffing under President Trump.

Iowa Lt. Gov.'s office

Yesterday in Clear Lake, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that she will wait until September to decide whether or not to call a special session for the Iowa Legislature to discuss and act on the looming budget problems the state is facing. 

Emily Woodbury

Just as the founding fathers gathered in taverns to enjoy lively political conversation over a local brew, so do columnists and reporters from The Gazette and Iowa Public Radio.

On this edition of "Pints and Politics," recorded before a live audience at the Amana Millstream Brewing Company, co-hosts Ben Kieffer of River to River and Gazette investigative reporter, Erin Jordan, talk politics with columnists Lynda Waddington and Todd Dorman, as well as political reporter James Lynch of The Gazette. 

Dean Born / IPR

Cedar Rapids mayor, Ron Corbett, says Iowa has “come to the close of the Branstad era.” He’s asking Republicans to nominate him for Governor.

In announcing his candidacy, Corbett is officially opposing Governor Kim Reynolds who is a protege' of the Branstad administration. Terry Branstad resigned a month ago to become U.S. Ambassador to China

Corbett acknowledged the transition during a Tuesday evening picnic in downtown Cedar Rapids, saying, “It’s time to elect new leaders, with new ideas, that have a new game plan for the State of Iowa.”

factory
Christopher Dilts [Barack Obama / flickr]

An Iowa research group says manufacturing jobs continue to decline in the state, even after a new sales tax break was given to manufacturers. 

According to the Iowa Policy Project, a tax break that makes more manufacturing supplies exempt from state sales taxes has not led to more jobs in the manufacturing sector.

The statement comes after the Legislative Services Agency announced that tax break could cost the state about $100 million. It was originally expected to cost about $21 million. 

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A recently formed nonprofit headed by Democrats is trying to get a handle on why Barack Obama supporters in rural Iowa went for Donald Trump in 2016. The group Focus on Rural America is led by former Lieutenant Governor and U.S. Senate candidate Patty Judge. A political scientist at UNI, Chris Larimer, says rural voters should lean Democratic.

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Former Lieutenant Governor Joy Corning died over the weekend at the age of 84. Corning was the first woman to run for the Republican nomination for governor in Iowa, and she had a long and active political career. She served under former Governor Terry Branstad from 1991 to 1998. 

Former Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson, who succeeded Corning in office, joined Emily Woodbury to remember Corning during this hour of River to River. 

On the bipartisan projects they worked on together:

Courtesy of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center

After 171 years of statehood and 40 previous male chief executives, Iowa has it’s first female governor. Kim Reynolds took office yesterday as former Governor Terry Branstad leaves to take office as U.S. Ambassador to China.

Dianne Bystrom is the director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women in Politics. Now that the state has a female governor and has a woman serving in Congress, Bystrom says it’s not unlikely we’ll see more women getting elected in the statehouse by way of a phenomenon political scientists call “the multiplier effect.”

WNPR - Connecticut Public Radio / Flickr

The Republican Senator Bob Corker says the Trump administration is “in a downward spiral”

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by political scientists Rachel Caufield of Drake University and Dave Andersen of Iowa State University. They give their analysis of a White House reportedly in chaos, discuss the reaction from Congressional Republicans and Democrats, and take calls from Trump supporters who see what’s going in the White House differently. They also talk about who will lead the FBI and why it matters.

abby finkenauer
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A Democratic state representative says she intends to run for Congress in 2018 to represent northeast Iowa.

Abby Finkenauer of Dubuque is hoping to challenge Republican Rep. Rod Blum in the race for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District.

Finkenauer says she wants to focus on policies that support working families and raise wages in Iowa.

Amy Mayer/IPR

For 10 years a program from Iowa State University has helped prepare first-time candidates to run for political office. It’s held during odd years and this year’s program has attracted a record number of participants.

Three day-long programs in Ames are offering tips and tools for running a campaign and getting elected, from fundraising and campaign finance rules to communication strategies and social media.

John Pemble / IPR

  

It's the last full week of the 2017 legislative session with many long and complicated discussions about next year's budget.  This week's show stays clear of most of the budget discussion and we can present a final show next focusing on the budget with a wrap up of the past 15 weeks.

For this second to last show in the series, we focus on some of the final non-budget bills passing both chambers.

John Pemble / IPR

As the end of the session nears, leaders are often asked a simple "yes or no" about the likelihood of a bill becoming law.  The Senate president says a bill that would change how independent water utilities are managed isn't moving forward.  This bill's passage would affect the Des Moines Water Works, for example. 

roxanna moritz
Kayla Trail / The Great Scott Times

Four Democratic county auditors say they are considering running for secretary of state in 2018.

They all say they are concerned about a voter ID bill working its way through the legislature and with how Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate has promoted it.

Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz is considering entering the race. 

John Pemble / IPR

  

This week, the House passed the most restrictive abortion bill in the state's history.  It bans abortions after 20 weeks except when the life of the mother is in danger.  The bill originated in the Senate two week ago, but the House makes many revisions.  In this podcast, we condense the six-and-a-half hour long debate from the chamber floor to 15 minutes.

John Pemble / IPR

Since 2007, two legislators are surprised every year with an award from the Herbert Hoover Foundation. On Thursday Senator Rob Hogg and Representative Zach Nunn were honored.  Previous honoree House Speaker Linda Upmeyer says it's one of the most meaningful awards a legislator can receive.

John Pemble / IPR

Six weeks ago, legislation about changing Iowa's collective bargaining law featured a long and contentious debate in both chambers, and hundreds of demonstrators at the Capitol.  During this process lobbyist Drew Klein, state director for Americans for Prosperity, advocated for this bill.  Turns out he was not registered during this time as a lobbyist.  The House Ethics Committee took up a complaint about Klein this week and we'll hear part of the committee's process during their first action of this General Assembly.

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst fielded several questions about health care today at a town hall-style meeting in Cedar Rapids.

Several questioners among the 1,000 or so people in the auditorium at Coe College pushed her to state her position on the House GOP health care plan.

"I can't say today whether I support it or don't support it," Ernst said. 

Ernst added the plan does not solve all health care issues.

John Pemble / IPR

Week 10's podcast begins with the state of Iowa being low on money, again.  The Revenue Estimating Conference projects a $131 million shortfall by July 1st. Legislative leaders say budget cuts this close to the end of the fiscal year aren't practical, so the state's rainy day funds will be used.

John Pemble / IPR

This week, the House passes a bill expanding gun rights.  Among the things it will allow includes a person with a permit can bring a concealed pistol to city council meetings, but not school board meetings.  Similarly, one can be brought inside the state Capitol. 

Representative Matt Windschitl leads the effort to pass this bill. During the debate he says, “If I had my druthers, a law-abiding Iowan would be able to carry a firearm wherever they are lawfully present.”

John Pemble / IPR

This is the first funnel week of the session, where bills that have not come before a committee are eliminated. It also provides party leaders a chance to reflect on what they've accomplished and what they can realistically expect to see coming to the House or Senate floor for debate.  Senator Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids), minority leader, says the Republicans' remaining agenda is "nonsense." House Speaker Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) says Hogg's use of "hyperbole" is an example of the Democrats having a tough time refuting the success of a Republican-dominated session. 

John Pemble / IPR

There is lingering bitterness from last week's long debate about changing Iowa's collective bargaining laws.  On Monday afternoon, Democratic senators use their points of personal privilege to voice their disappointment and to ask more questions about the authorship of the bill.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

President Donald Trump’s first few weeks in office have been a whirlwind. The same can be said for the first few weeks of the Iowa Legislature’s 2017 session.

During this special edition of River to River, recorded before a live audience at the Mill in Iowa City, host Ben Kieffer talks with columnists Todd Dorman and Lynda Waddington of the Gazette, as well as political reporter James Lynch. 

Conversation topics include Russia's interference into the U.S. Election, the likelihood of an investigation, collective bargaining rights in Iowa and many others. 

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