Kathie Obradovich's blog

Iowa House votes down measure that would have required more inspections of puppy mills

Iowa Capital Dispatch
April 10, 2024

The Iowa House rejected a proposal Wednesday to require annual inspections of all state-licensed dog breeding facilities by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

“Who doesn’t love puppies? We all love puppies, but sadly, Iowa is closing in on number one in the nation for unscrupulous puppy mills,” Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, said.

He offered an amendment to a larger agriculture policy bill, House File 2641, that would require an on-site inspection of every state-licensed dog-breeding facility every 12 months, as well as require on-site inspections if there was reasonable cause.

Currently, the law says the department “may” inspect breeding facilities.

Jacoby wrote to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds last summer to call for better enforcement after the seizure of more than 120 dogs from a breeding facility in his Johnson County district. Inspectors reported many of the animals were in distress and Jacoby said a dozen of them died.

Republicans opposed the amendment.

Nursing home residents’ cries fall on deaf ears

Iowa Capital Dispatch
February 28, 2024

Iowa Capital Dispatch has been reporting for four years about nursing home residents dying due to neglect, as well as the state’s backlog of inspections and its lack of staff to complete them. It was bound to get lawmakers’ attention eventually.

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman, who writes these stories, has been reporting on similar issues for more than two decades.

I was semi-hopeful before the start of the 2024 legislative session that this would be the year the Legislature actually did something meaningful about it. I should have known better.

Endorsing DeSantis is a risky move for Reynolds

by Iowa Capital Dispatch
November 6, 2023

I said on national television back in August that I would be very surprised if Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds endorsed a presidential candidate ahead of the 2024 caucuses.

Color me surprised. Reynolds is reportedly set to endorse Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a campaign event Monday evening in Des Moines and then take the show on the road, with stops in Davenport and Florida ahead of the third GOP presidential debate.

Reynolds first said over the summer she wouldn’t rule out a pre-caucus endorsement. The reasons I was skeptical then are the same ones that seem puzzling now: It’s a huge political risk for Reynolds and an even bigger hazard to the future of the Iowa GOP caucuses.

DeSantis was 29 percentage points behind former President Donald Trump in the Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll of likely GOP caucusgoers published a week ago. The Florida governor lost his lead over former U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who’s now tied with him at 16%. While Reynolds’ backing is certainly a boon at a crucial time for DeSantis, it seems like a stretch that it would push him over the top to defeat Trump in January and launch him to the nomination.

Des Moines Register caucus poll shows ‘hands off’ approach to Trump isn’t working for rival candidates

by Iowa Capital Dispatch
August 21, 2023

The latest Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll of the Iowa caucus race, published Monday, was a blowout. Former President Donald Trump holds more than a 2-to-1 lead over his closest rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Good luck, governor – Questioning presidential candidates will be harder than she seems to think

by Iowa Capital Dispatch
July 24, 2023

Gov. Kim Reynolds, who rarely speaks to Iowa journalists, now wants to try her hand at their job.

Reynolds announced last week that she plans to personally interview all of the GOP presidential candidates at the Iowa State Fair. And not only that, but she plans to “go beyond just the issues of a presidential campaign and allow fairgoers to see who the candidates really are.”

That is an ambitious goal. Presidential candidates, like most politicians, tend to be extremely invested in making sure nobody can pin down “who they really are.” It gets in the way of their aim to be all things to all people.

Iowa Republicans can’t go back to 2018 to dodge fallout of their abortion ban

by Iowa Capital Dispatch
July 10, 2023

What Iowa GOP lawmakers and Gov. Kim Reynolds are planning to do in Tuesday’s special session may have started out as the most politically expedient course of action on abortion – but it could backfire in a spectacular way.

Here’s why.

Reynolds and the GOP majority under the golden dome are coming back into session at the cost of tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to try again to pass a law banning most abortions after roughly six weeks of gestation.

No matter what they pass, this law is going straight back to court, at the cost of potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars for litigation, again at the expense of taxpayers. Its ultimate fate will not be decided before the Legislature’s regular session in January. In fact, it probably won’t be decided before the 2024 elections.

Abortion ruling heightens risk to judicial independence, balance of powers in Iowa

Iowa Capital Dispatch
June 19, 2023

The Iowa Supreme Court’s surprising deadlock on the state’s “fetal heartbeat” bill sets up a difficult and potentially divisive election-year debate among Republicans in the Iowa Legislature – and not just about abortion. It also is likely to inspire even more Republican zeal to weaken the separation of powers and judicial independence in Iowa.

Gov. Kim Reynolds and GOP lawmakers have put considerable effort into reengineering the courts to their advantage. They revamped the membership of the judicial nominating commission in 2019, to give the governor more power over the people in charge of vetting and recommending applicants for positions on Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

GOP campaign messaging needs a reality check

Iowa Capital Dispatch

It’s been a while since I attended an Iowa caucus cattle call. After spending most of Saturday at Sen. Joni Ernst’s Roast and Ride event at the Iowa State fairgrounds, featuring eight GOP presidential candidates, I was most surprised by how little things change.

In a lot of ways, it could have been the summer of 2015. Just like this year, the rhetoric from Republican candidates running for the 2016 caucuses was heavy on immigration and government overspending, energy costs, crime at home and dangers abroad.

The national media, this year as in 2015, were obsessed with the wonder of retail politics and wrote very little about what candidates actually said. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis brought his kids and a bouncy house, gave away ice cream and managed to have a few conversations with voters that weren’t painfully awkward. Sen. Chuck Grassley wore socks given to him by Sen. Tim Scott. (Is that some kind of new endorsement by footwear?)

Iowa’s historically small legislative session

Iowa Capital Dispatch
May 8, 2023

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.

Iowa Senate GOP answers state supreme court’s call for transparency by. . . hiding from questions

Iowa Capital Dispatch
April 24, 2023

The Iowa Supreme Court sent a strong message to the Iowa Legislature. The Statehouse majority party heard it and came up with the most idiotic and harmful response imaginable.

This should surprise no one.

Last Monday, during what turned out to be an all-nighter in the Iowa Senate, Sen. Adrian Dickey, R-Packwood, shocked and angered Senate Democrats by refusing to address a reasonable question about the child labor bill. When Waterloo Democrat Bill Dotzler asked Dickey to “yield” to a question, which is legislative protocol when lawmakers speak to each other on the floor, Dickey simply said, “No.”


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