- Associated Press - Monday, October 29, 2018

Des Moines Register. October 26, 2018

Voters should restore political balance to Iowa Legislature

The state cannot withstand more of the extremist GOP agenda

Two years ago, voters gave Republicans control of the Iowa Legislature. What did the majority party do with its power?

Rammed through a bill decimating Iowa’s collective bargaining law.



Forfeited federal money and ended a family planning program, which contributed to the closure of health clinics and has made birth control less accessible.

Refused to make a small increase in sales tax to generate money for the conservation and recreation trust fund, which voters approved eight years ago. Iowa does not have one penny in a fund needed to clean up waterways, preserve natural habitats, repair trails and maintain public areas. Legislators instead approved water-quality legislation dedicating only a fraction of the money that would be raised by the sales tax.

Passed gun-rights legislation that included a half-baked “stand your ground” provision that many in the legal community have criticized as unclear and one judge labeled “void for vagueness.”

Essentially banned abortion in this state with an extremist “fetal heartbeat” bill signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds and now tied up in court.

Twiddled their thumbs while problems with the privatization of Medicaid intensified.

Passed a tax-cut package that a new analysis from the Washington-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy concludes benefits the wealthy, while doing little for middle- and low-income taxpayers. And of course it further starves the state of needed revenue.

Cleared the way for unregulated “health plans” that are neither health insurance nor subject to state oversight.

Passed an unnecessary “Voter ID” bill orchestrated by Secretary of State Paul Pate (an official also on the ballot this year) that imposes hurdles to voting. The Iowa Supreme Court upheld a temporary injunction halting enforcement of sections pertaining to absentee ballots, but has yet to rule on the overall law.

Had enough yet, Iowa?

Because the GOP lawmakers who hurried through their radical agenda now want you to rehire them on Election Day for another term. Voters should not comply.

The state needs some political balance again, which Iowans can provide by voting for Democrats up and down the ballot. (That requires filling in all the bubbles on a ballot, since straight-ticket political party voting has been eliminated).

Before the GOP took control of the Iowa Legislature in early 2017, a slim Democratic majority in the Senate ensured bills were debated, the most radical ideas were thwarted and lawmakers compromised. Iowa needs to return to those days to prevent more damage.

To see the kind of economic havoc Republican control can wreak over time, one need look no further than Kansas, a state with a population and demographics similar to Iowa.

Former Gov. Sam Brownback took office in 2010 intent on pursuing the mythical GOP philosophy that tax cuts generate economic growth and government revenue. His self-described “real-life experiment” resulted in huge revenue shortfalls and devastation to state services before he ultimately asked state lawmakers to slow income-tax cuts, raise taxes on cigarettes, overhaul school funding and divert money from the state’s highway fund to balance the budget.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal spent eight years in office and entered with a $1 billion surplus. He pushed tax breaks for wealthy residents and new financial incentives for businesses, and he oversaw the gutting of government services. The state teetered on the brink of economic disaster. Abused children slept in government offices, college graduations were canceled and a $1 billion deficit loomed before voters put a Democratic governor in office to try to address the damage.

Back in Iowa, the GOP continues to focus on tax cuts and smaller government while thousands fewer public employees work to assist the elderly, maintain the environment, issue driver’s licenses, respond to child abuse, comply with federal requirements and implement the GOP’s short-sighted laws. Dozens of unemployment offices closed in 2011, when the unemployment rate was over 6 percent. Two mental health facilities were shuttered. Schools have not been adequately funded. Correctional officers are assaulted in understaffed prisons.

No doubt Republicans would say that Democrats swung the policy pendulum too far when they scored the trifecta of controlling the governor’s office, Senate and House during Gov. Chet Culver’s single term from 2007-2011.

Since the beginning of Gov. Terry Branstad’s first term, in 1983, split government between the governor’s office and one or both chambers of the Legislature has been the rule rather than the exception. That arrangement has often served Iowa well, forcing each party to the table to compromise on a path forward that no one liked in total but the majority could live with.

Most election forecasters predict a tight governor’s race, Republicans maintaining control of the Iowa Senate and Democrats with a reasonable shot at taking control in the House.

Iowa cannot take more of the anti-government philosophy imparted by the Republican majority. Next up on the GOP agenda may be making budget cuts so deep they undermine the judicial system or giving tax giveaways to big businesses at the expense of services for the most vulnerable.

Voting is the way to stop the madness.

______

Fort Dodge Messenger. October 28, 2018.

Support Kim Reynolds for governor

Our state is booming, let’s keep it that way

Iowa is doing well. The economy is healthy and growing. State government is well-managed. Taxpayers are seeing their money spent wisely and with frugality. Unemployment is at a historic low. Assorted national rankings put our state ahead of most other states in a diverse assortment of categories. People all across America are coming to realize that the Hawkeye State is one of the best places in the nation to make a home and build a career.

The leadership of Gov. Kim Reynolds is helping Iowa thrive. She has made initiatives that stimulate plentiful jobs for Iowa workers that pay well among her top priorities. Great success in accomplishing those goals is being achieved.

Reynolds also understands that keeping Iowa’s educational system top-rated and in sync with the needs of employers are crucial to the state’s future prosperity. That’s why she has been long been a strong champion of enhancing science, technology and mathematics education in our state’s schools.

As lieutenant governor, Reynolds became recognized as one of the nation’s leaders in promoting STEM programs. She was co-chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. Reynolds’ achievements were noted and applauded well beyond our state’s borders. For example, STEMconnector named her to their “100 Women Leaders in STEM.”

Reynolds understands that selling Iowa’s agricultural and manufactured products not only all across American, but also worldwide is essential. She’s led economic development trade missions to China, Germany, South Korea, Vietnam, Philippines and Thailand. The goal is two-fold. She wants to increase Iowa’s sales abroad. Beyond that, however, she knows that greater international investment in this state can be an important way to create more jobs and increased wealth for Iowans.

Reynolds has only been governor for a short time. Even so, she brought to this role vast relevant experience. Before becoming lieutenant governor she served as a state senator and a county treasurer. As lieutenant governor in the administration of former Gov. Terry Branstad, she was a key leader in the administration. She participated in virtually all aspects of policymaking and was given critical assignments that included:

? Co-chair of the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress board, which comprises chief executive officers from the state’s major industries.

? Chair of the first-ever Iowa Energy Plan.

Reynolds is also determined to stay in touch with her fellow Iowans. Each year she visits each of Iowa’s 99 counties at least once to learn from them how state government can better address their needs.

Reynolds’ roots in her home state are deep. A native of St. Charles, she and her husband, Kevin, have made their home in Osceola. They have three daughters and eight grandchildren.

The Messenger is impressed with Reynolds’ leadership. She should stay at the helm. We urge our readers to cast their votes for this outstanding governor.

___

Quad-City Times. October 24, 2018

Bustos pragmatism works

Six years ago, Cheri Bustos got elected to Congress, pledging to stand up to the excesses of Republican congressional rule that threatened to cut Medicare and shrink the social safety net.

Since then, she’s risen through the ranks, and a few weeks ago said she’d run for the Democratic caucus’s fourth highest leadership post if the party retakes control of the House.

Bustos has been fortunate in that she’s not faced much competition at the polls since being elected. That’s enabled her to help her party find and elect candidates in the Midwest and other parts of the country. And she’s received widespread attention for her pragmatic approach to winning elections, and at governing.

You won’t find Bustos agitating for abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, impeaching the president or in the vanguard of the single-payer health care movement. But she has been a strong liberal voice, calling out the president, criticizing the tax cuts that lavish too much on the wealthy, and she has stood up to threats to cut Medicare.

With the federal debt growing, it’s clear some Republicans in Congress again have Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in their sights.

Bustos has also looked after her district, fighting against misguided attempts to bog down the Farm Bill with ideological crusades and seeking to help the Rock Island Arsenal.

This year, the Moline Democrat is running against Republican Bill Falwell, a a real estate professional from Galena, Ill.

In August, Republican Party leaders in the state disavowed his candidacy, citing, among other things, his social media posts that refer to some mass shootings as “false flag” events. He also has questioned whether the U.S. government was involved in 9/11.

Bustos, who previously was an East Moline council member, hospital executive and a journalist at this newspaper, has proven herself to be a hard-working lawmaker who’s stayed in touch with her community. She’s risen through the ranks of her caucus but, at the same time, has remained rooted in the views of people who live here - and sensitive to those who belong to the opposing party.

Cheri Bustos deserves another term in Congress.

____

Dubuque Telegraph Herald. October 26, 2018

What’s in your medicine cabinet?

Right now - well, after you finish reading this editorial - go to your medicine cabinet and look inside. If you’re like most Americans, you have unused and outdated containers of prescription medication in there. You’ve always been meaning to do something about them, but they’re not going to hurt anything, right?

Wrong.

Prescription drugs that fall into the wrong hands or are disposed of improperly represent a danger to the community as well as individuals.

Especially as they involve opioids and other strong painkillers, people ingesting prescriptions intended for other uses or for others - be they “borrowed” from the family medicine cabinet, stolen or bought on the street - could bring harm to themselves and potentially those around them.

And remember the way well-intentioned citizens used to - and probably still do - dispose of old prescriptions? By flushing them down the toilet? It is an efficient method, certainly, but, unless recommended by your pharmacist, having all those drugs hit our water treatment systems, where they might not entirely filter, and possibly reach our waterways, makes that disposal approach a terrible practice.

That’s why we’re putting in a good word for the next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Coordinated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in cooperation with law enforcement agencies, pharmacies and other entities serving the community, the semiannual event will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at locations across the country.

There are several sites - there should be more, in our opinion - around the region where folks may safely dispose of unused, unwanted and out-of-date prescription medications. No questions asked.

Removing temptation to misuse or to improperly dispose of these drugs is a big deal. Participating anonymously - no police will be quizzing anyone on how the drugs were acquired - is vital.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2016 reported that 6.2 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs - most of them obtained from family and friends, and often from the home medicine cabinet. Given what we know about the opioid epidemic, that number is probably much higher today.

Fortunately, citizens are getting the message. At the previous Take Back Day, in April, nearly 6,000 collection sites across the U.S. took in nearly 1 million pounds of drugs. That’s a lot of pills. Statewide totals included 12,290 pounds in Iowa, 37,172 pounds in Illinois and a staggering 62,195 pounds in Wisconsin.

We doubt that leftover drugs are three to four times more prevalent in Illinois and Wisconsin than in Iowa, so it appears that more needs to be done to inform and educate Iowans about these issues and this opportunity.

While the Take Back Day program is a great public service, it hits just two Saturdays a year. Thus, it’s good to know that there are other disposal locations always available, from participating pharmacies to other no-questions-asked drop boxes, such as the one outside the Dubuque Law Enforcement Center.

(There is also the “last resort” option of trashing the stuff, but it involves coffee grounds or kitty litter and is not as environmentally sound.)

So, now go and open your medicine cabinet, collect those bottles of old and unneeded prescription medicines and either participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on

Saturday or drop off the drugs at another secure site very soon.

____

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