Weekly Update: January 4, 2019

First and foremost, happy 2019! I hope you rang it in safely, and are as ready as I am for all of the organizing opportunities in front of us this year.

We’re back in the office this week and hitting the ground running – at least those of us not battling bugs we picked up over the break (I’m pointing my finger at my nieces and nephew). Next week we’ll send you our 2019 Iowa Legislative Session primer, but this week we’re picking up right where we left off: on some organizing campaigns and taking a look at the new US House Democratic Majority and their plans (both the good and the bad).

If you get a chance, let me know what you are excited about headed into 2019: the influx of presidential candidates, the historic representation of women in Congress, the Iowa legislative session, the Green New Deal, Healthcare for All, or something we might not be following yet.

News and Updates

Story County factory farm fight still going strong
 In just under a month, we were able to get over 500 signatures in opposition of three factory farms proposed to be constructed by the Henry Family and LongView Pork LLC just north of Nevada. That’s incredible!

However, despite overwhelming public opposition, the Story County Board of Supervisors voted 2-1 to recommend approval to the DNR.

The fight is far from over. Come to the community meeting at the Nevada Public Library on January 8 at 6:30 PM to learn about our options and next steps.
Dems take control of the House: Are they doing business-as-usual or taking bold action?
 A little of each: 
Pay-go sets up austerity measures
 Yesterday, as Democrats established their rules for the 116th Congress, they included pay-as-you-go rules, commonly known as “pay-go.” This rule requires Congress to offset any increased spending with equal cuts (or, less likely but more sensibly, revenue increases) elsewhere.

The fact that Democrats are using their newfound power to stress fiscal responsibility is baffling. Fiscal responsibility was hardly mentioned in the 2018 elections, whereas big legislative ideas like Healthcare for All ― which could be harmed by pay-go rules ― were popular with voters. We know that trying to outflank Republicans from the right on fiscal policy is a fool’s errand. In spite of their tax cuts benefiting giant corporations and the 1%, they use the crisis they have created to justify more cuts. We should not play into their hand. 
HR 1 takes money out and puts people in With rules out of the way, an encouraging step is that House Dems plan on taking on the corrupting influence of big money in our elections with the introduction of H.R. 1 – the “For the People Act” – today. The powerful set of democracy reforms in H.R. 1 include restoring the Voting Rights Act, ending partisan gerrymandering, automatic voter registration, small-donor matching funds (public financing), supporting overturning Citizens United and more.

The bill covers:
Campaign finance reform
  • Establishing public financing of campaigns, powered by small donations
  • Passing the DISCLOSE Act
  • Passing the Honest Ads Act

Strengthening the Government’s Ethics laws

  • Requiring the president to disclose his/her/their tax returns
  • Stopping members of Congress from using taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment cases or buy first-class plane tickets
  • Giving the Office of Government Ethics the power to do more oversight and enforcement and put in stricter lobbying registration requirements

Expanding voting rights

  • Creating a new national automatic voter registration system
  • Restoring the Voting Rights Act (to help prevent gerrymandering)
  • Beefing up elections security

While there is no silver bullet, this bill covers a lot of ground. And while it will be stymied in the Senate, we like picking this fight on this very important issue. 

→ New Congress, new phone numbers. Now is the time to save our Representatives’ and Senators’ numbers to our phones!Then, make a call to your members of the House in support of H.R. 1 today! 

Take Action

It’s that time again!  Has your county passed the Master Matrix?
 Every year county supervisors need to pass and submit the Master Matrix resolution to the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources before January 31st.

They HAVE TO pass this resolution to have the power to recommend factory farms for denial. Contact your county supervisors to make sure they pass and submit it on time! We know the Master Matrix is broken, but it is one of the tools counties and local people have to fight back. We also know it is time for supervisors to take a stronger stance.

DID YOUR COUNTY ALREADY PASS THE MASTER MATRIX RESOLUTION? Ask your county supervisors to pass a Moratorium resolution in addition to the Master Matrix. Resolutions send a powerful message to the elected officials at the state level. Already 23 counties have passed resolutions calling for a moratorium, stronger protections from factory farms and/or local control.

Contact your county supervisors and tell them to pass BOTH the Master Matrix resolution and the Moratorium resolution. Then respond to this email and let us know what they say.
As you can see, I didn’t lose my gift of the gab over the holidays! Stay tuned next week for our Iowa Legislative Session preview and more ways for you to plug in as the organizing to put people and planet first continues to ramp up in 2019!

Adam Mason
State Policy Organizing Director

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