CCI Action’s Post-Funnel Legislative Agenda

Battle lines drawn on budget as first funnel narrows legislative agenda

Medicaid expansion and the battle of the budget are the two issues that will define the 2013 legislative session, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund (CCI Action Fund) members announced March 8 – the day of the first legislative funnel that weeds out bills without enough support to continue debate this year.

“The battle lines are pretty clearly staked out and Medicaid and the state budget are the two issues that will define the 2013 session,” said Lori Nelson, a CCI Action Fund member from Bayard, Iowa.

“There’s no policy proposal still on the table that will benefit more people than expanding Medicaid, but we also need a state budget that puts people first – that means fully funding education, environmental protections, workforce development, and health-care.”

CCI Action Fund members released a list of four good bills they are supporting that remained alive after the first funnel:

1.     Medicaid Expansion (Senate File 375, formerly SF72) – an opportunity to extend health coverage to as many as 150,000 low-income Iowans.  This bill is championed by Senator Jack Hatch.

2.    The Regents Accountability and Transparency Act (Senate File 407, formerly SSB1163) – a proposal to crack down on conflicts of interest and abuses of power by political appointees more concerned with serving private business interests than with serving the public good.  This bill is championed by Senator Jeff Danielson.

3.    Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for hardworking, low-wage families (Senate File 422, formerly SF88) – a common-sense, low-cost solution that will spur economic growth by putting money directly into the pockets of those who need it most.  This bill is championed by Senator Joe Bolkcom.

4.    Granting in-state tuition rates to anyone who attended four years of high school in Iowa, graduated from an Iowa high school, or attended one year of community college or a Regents institution (House File 309) – a backdoor DREAM Act for thousands of immigrant youth.

CCI Action Fund members also say they are preparing to ramp up pressure to stop four bad bills, including:

1.     Storing overflowing manure at abandoned factory farms (Senate File 418, formerly Senate Study Bill 1180 & House File 512, formerly House Study Bill 171) – a bad environmental bill that would allow factory farm operators who can’t properly manage their operations to store overflowing manure at abandoned facilities, which poses a real threat to water quality.  This bill was introduced by Senator Joe Seng and Representative Hein at the behest of the Iowa Pork Producers.

2.     Removing public notice requirements when corporate polluters apply for some kinds of Clean Water Act permits (House File 311) – a bill that leaves communities in the dark when factory farms and other corporate polluters are building new facilities in their area.  This bill was introduced by Department of Natural Resources Director Chuck Gipp.

3.   Eliminating public hearings for ethics complaints by centralizing power to make unilateral decisions with the chair of the Campaign and Ethics Disclosure Board (House File 209, formerly HSB20) – a bill that allows the board chair to have the sole discretion to decide ethics complaints without a formal review by the board or a public meeting.  This bill was introduced by Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board Director Megan Tooker.

4.    Disenfranchising citizens from voting – Voter ID (House File 485, formerly HSB23) – a political witch-hunt for nonexistent voter fraud that would require proof of residence and a state identification card to register to vote and to vote at the polls, which could disenfranchise thousands of young, old, minority, and immigrant citizens from voting.  This bill was proposed by Secretary of State Matt Schultz and pushed by Representative Dawn Pettingill.

Iowa CCI Action Fund members say they will also continue to remain engaged on other big-ticket items such as corporate property tax cuts, a flat tax proposal, and a scheme to handout even more taxpayer money every year to big corporations under the guise of economic development.

Many of CCI Action Fund’s priorities did not survive the first funnel, including issues like:  local control of factory farm zoning, cracking down on wage theft, closing corporate tax loopholes, capping interest rates on predatory payday loans, and Voter-owned Iowa Clean Elections.

In the last eight weeks, over four hundred CCI Action Fund members from across Iowa have attended more than one hundred subcommittee and committee meetings, participated in small group discussions with key legislative leaders, attended legislative coffees or policy hearings in their local communities, or called and emailed their elected officials to push policies that put communities before corporations and people before profits, politics, and polluters.

The community power organization says their unprecedented member mobilization at the state capitol this year is designed to put everyday people up against corporate lobbyists and force legislators to choose which side they are on.

 

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