Kathie Obradovich's blog

Iowa’s new absentee voting restrictions worked perfectly — for Republicans

Iowa Capital Dispatch
November 14, 2022

My mom was in the hospital most of the week before Election Day. It wasn’t planned, so she had not voted early or requested an absentee ballot before she was admitted.

I knew she wanted to vote, so last weekend I called her county auditor’s office to ask about voting from the hospital. Iowa’s law allows voters who are hospitalized or in health care centers to request a visit from a bipartisan team from the auditor’s office to bring them an absentee ballot and allow them to vote.

I was told there would be a team from the auditor’s office at the hospital that Monday, the day before Election Day, and they would visit my mom if she let the hospital know she wanted to vote. So Mom told several different nurses, but didn’t hear anything back and nobody showed up to take her vote.

Will Trump’s visit to Iowa help or hurt Chuck Grassley? Do you think Trump really cares?

Iowa Capital Dispatch
October 31, 2022

The news that former President Donald Trump will hold a rally in Iowa amid a list of battleground states in the week before the midterm elections inspired puzzled concern from some and glee from others.

The gleeful weren’t all Republicans, and those expressing anxiety weren’t all Democrats.

There have been a lot of questions:

Gov. Reynolds is campaigning — against Joe Biden

Iowa Capital Dispatch
October 3, 2022

One of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ biggest applause lines at her Harvest fundraiser over the weekend was her announcement that she’s suing the Biden administration over its decision to forgive student loan debt for more than 408,000 Iowans.

There was a time when it would have been considered political malpractice to gloat about actively working to take thousands of dollars out of the pockets of nearly 20% of all adult Iowans. That’s a significant share of the electorate, not even counting spouses and family members who would benefit from the debt forgiveness.

Don’t claim you support law enforcement if you work to demonize the FBI and IRS

Iowa Capital Dispatch
August 15, 2022

This may come as news to Sen. Chuck Grassley and many of his fellow Republicans: The Federal Bureau of Investigation is a law enforcement agency. So is the Internal Revenue Service.

Most people already think of the FBI as an elite policing agency. But the IRS also investigates crime beyond tax evasion and fraud. Organized crime, drug trafficking, illegal gaming, money laundering and public corruption are just a few examples.

Republicans, including Grassley, claim to be champions of law enforcement and horrified by violence in America.

In fact, at a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, most Republican senators entirely ignored or barely mentioned the actual focus of the hearing. Instead, they put on a show of how worried they are about violence and threats against police, judges, anti-abortion institutions and residents of certain cities that happen to be run by Democrats.

Frankenstein legislation and midnight shell games given green light by Iowa Supreme Court decision

Iowans’ ability to stay informed about what’s happening in the state Legislature took another body blow recently – and lawmakers aren’t even in session.

The latest smackdown on open government came in the Iowa Supreme Court’s recent ruling that also eliminated the right to abortion in the state constitution. Most people, understandably, overlooked the part of the ruling dealing with legislative procedure – specifically the constitutional requirement that bills being debated in the Legislature address a single subject.

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, however, didn’t miss it.

This is what political courage looks like

We all know what courage looks like. It’s at the core of our favorite stories. It’s central to the plots in most movies and television shows. It’s the backbone of the legends we cherish from history and from daily life.

Political courage is not so familiar. It’s an oxymoron these days, or one of those blue-moon phenomena that only happen when a politician is about to leave office forever. Compromise is a dirty word, and elected officials who stand up for what they believe against a party priority or work across the aisle to get things done face the mortality of their careers.

We saw both kinds of courage in prime time on Thursday night at the first public hearing of the U.S. House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Statehouse standoff leaves Iowans in the dark

The 100th day of the 2022 legislative session in Iowa is Tuesday.

I know that’s probably not a day marked on your calendar. Most Iowans don’t pay much attention to whether the Legislature is in session or not. Those who celebrate Easter, Passover or Ramadan may have been spending time with family. Others may be planning their gardens, attending kids’ track meets and working toward the end of the school year. Some may have spent the weekend figuring out their taxes.

Speaking of taxes, yours are paying for everything that happens at the Iowa Statehouse, and guess what? Not much is happening right now. And whatever may be happening is being done in secret, behind closed doors, where you aren’t welcome.

House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst summed it up: “First and foremost, I want to echo what I’ve heard from so many Iowans who have reached out to me over the last few days and said the phrase: ‘The hell’s going on up there?’”

The Republicans who control the Iowa House, Senate and governor’s office have been unable to reach agreement on some key elements of the governor’s agenda. As a result, work on the state budget is at a standstill.

Bottle bill proposals leave Iowans holding their cans

Iowa lawmakers seem poised, with their latest effort to update the state’s popular but long-struggling bottle bill, to give everyone what they want.

Everyone, that is, except consumers.

What do consumers want? Most simply want the convenience of returning their empties to their grocery stores or nearby redemption centers. They also want to keep bottles and cans out of the ditches and the landfills.

Republican-led 'bottle bill' overhaul would allow retailers to refuse container returns

Iowa grocery stores and other retailers would be allowed to opt out of taking back bottle and can returns and repaying deposits in 2023 under the latest version of a bill making its way through the Iowa Senate.

Sen. Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, and Republicans on the Senate Ways and Means Committee passed the rewrite of Senate File 2122 on Thursday, with all Democrats on the panel voting no.

The amended bill replaces a version passed earlier this week by a Senate subcommittee, which would have allowed grocery stores and other retailers to opt out of taking containers back if a redemption center was located within 20 miles of the store.

Parents’ rights? Not this time, GOP says

Iowa Capital Dispatch
February 28, 2022

When I was in high school, I agreed to teach a Sunday school class for 3-year-olds at my church with another high-school classmate.

The class was only 45 minutes long, and mostly consisted of coloring, simple crafts and reading Bible stories to the children. No big deal – except there were at least 10 kids in the class and my “team mate” only showed up about half the time.

I managed, even though one little boy always cried when his mother dropped him off, so I usually spent the first 15 minutes of class trying to get everyone settled and busy with a sobbing boy on my hip.

I didn’t have to feed the kids, take them outside, change diapers (I think they were all potty-trained back then) or dispense medications. I don’t recall that any of the kids had disabilities or special needs. Still, it was exhausting. I didn’t volunteer again.

The experience came to mind recently, as lawmakers were debating legislation to allow child care facilities to care for more 2- or 3-year-olds per staff member.

Senate File 2268, which passed the Senate last week, would allow one day care employee to watch up to seven 2-year-olds, or up to 10 3-year-olds. Under current law, child care centers must have one worker for every six 2-year-olds or eight 3-year-olds.

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