July 4th marked the anniversary of the founding of our nation. It
was the culmination of an effort by a small band of citizens. Its an
example of what a small group can do when they ban together and take
charge of a problem.
The biggest issue in northern Warren County over the last 12 years has been the involuntary annexation of rural areas into the City of Des Moines. In the winter of 2000 a group of 5 people met at the North River Church and created the Iowa Rural Rights Association, a group dedicated to preventing the involuntary annexation of rural areas between County Line Road and Indianola. At that time, the Warren County Board of Supervisors chose to support that resistance. Last month, the City of Des Moines started again looking to annex the plaza area. Since then, the citizens of Warren County have collected over 700 signatures asking the Warren County Board of Supervisors to ask the City of Des Moines to hold off at least another 5 years before starting an involuntary annexation. The result of the involuntary annexation would have huge effects on the taxation budget for all Warren County taxpayers.
This month, candidates representing Warren County will be knocking on your door to solicit your votes. Your ideas are important to them. Take time not only to listen to their positions on the issues, but to let them know how you feel about these issues. Its the only way we can make our votes count.
Once again, state Sen. Kent Sorenson, R-Indianola, has shown he is grossly out of touch with many of his constituents, putting his own personal agenda above the men and women he represents, including me.
The Senate Republicans recently presented two amendments to the health and human services budget in an effort to eliminate a woman’s ability to access the resources she needs to make her own personal health decisions in consultation with her doctor. Current language in the law states that a woman who becomes pregnant as a result of rape or incest or a woman whose pregnancy puts her life in jeopardy may receive Medicaid funds to pay for an abortion. These are the only circumstances public funds can be used for an abortion, period.
The first proposed Republican amendment removed this language, meaning that even if a woman’s life were at risk or she were a victim of rape or incest, she could not use Medicare funds for an abortion. This “if you can’t pay for it on your own, too bad” attitude sends the message that the people of Iowa do not care, victimizing the women all over again.
The second proposed amendment included a provision stating no funds for family planning services such as birth control, Pap smears, sexually-transmitted infection testing or treatment shall be distributed to any health care provider who also provides abortion care. This was obviously a thinly veiled attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, even though nearly 50,000 Iowa women rely on Planned Parenthood for these basic services. Most have strong feelings about pregnancy, abortion and the decision to become a parent. But even if we disagree about abortion, we can all agree a woman, no matter her circumstances, should have access to critical health care.
Both of these amendments put the lives of thousands of Iowa women at risk, but neither complies with federal Medicaid laws. This puts the state in the position of losing nearly $2 billion in federal Medicaid funding. Thankfully, these amendments did not pass.
Sorenson’s actions and all too familiar lack of empathy and understanding of issues cannot go unnoticed. He put his personal convictions above the needs, concerns and issues that are important to me and many of my fellow constituents in Senate District 37. Who is Sen. Sorenson really representing? Is it the pregnant 14-year-old raped by her father? Is it the woman dying because of her pregnancy? Is it the woman who needs a mammogram or birth control? He needs to represent all of these members of his constituency. Every woman’s circumstances are unique. It is better for each to make her own decision, one that is best for her and her family, even if it is not the one we would make for ourselves. I encourage Sorenson to reconsider his dedication to making our state adamantly anti-women, and I would like to remind him that it is Iowa women who represent half of his district. And we vote.
— Katherine Farris, Indianola
January 9th marked the beginning of the 2012 session of the Iowa legislature. In his 2012 Condition of the State address, Governor Branstad set forth two priorities for the Iowa legislature: job creation and an increase in the household income for Iowa families and education reform so Iowa students are able to compete in the global economy[i]. This echoed promises from the Branstad campaign and inauguration which assured, with the help of the Iowa legislature, the creation of 200,000 new jobs by 2016 and that Iowa schools to be first in the nation.[ii] After an unprecedented six-month session, which nearly left the state without a working budget, there were 15,000 fewer jobs for hardworking Iowans and allowable growth for Iowa’s schools was not increased. To be on track to meet the job creation and education goals over 30,000 new jobs should have been created by the end of 2011 and schools should not have been left with difficult decisions such as cutting teachers or programing. Republicans Senator Kent Sorenson and Representative Glen Massie did not work to meet the goals set by the governor. They neglected the education of Iowa’s children and abandoned hundreds of taxpaying Iowans searching for jobs. Neither legislator sponsored any bills to increase funding for Iowa’s schools[iii] [iv]. Both Sorenson and Massie voted against sustaining school funding by not increasing allowable growth. Senator Sorenson sponsored a bill to freeze hiring of new employees by the state which will further cause care shortages in Iowa’s nursing homes and more worsening conditions in our state parks.[v] Sorenson voted against job creation and training programs for small businesses and unemployed Iowans via Senate Files 301 and 328 which, respectively, set aside money for small business loans and provided funding for worker training programs.[vi] These legislators instead focused their time on sponsoring bills to change Iowa’s Constitution which included: changing the definition of marriage and changing the method for appointment of Iowa’s Supreme Court Justices. Other bills sponsored by Sorenson and Massie include bills to: nullify the EPA rules, impeach the then remaining four justices of the Iowa Supreme Court, bills greatly changing Iowa’s abortion laws, and requiring all Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees prove citizenship.[vii] While important issues to some Iowans, even Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulson and Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer has agreed these issues should not be brought up so the legislature can work in a more bi-partisan manner and instead focus on education, the economy and job creation.[viii] Last session seems to indicate Sorenson and Massie will again desert Iowans and our state’s future.
[i] 2012 Condition of the State, http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120110/NEWS09/120110009/Gov-Terry-Branstad-s-Condition-State-speech
[ii] Office of the Governor of Iowa, https://governor.iowa.gov/goals/200000-new-jobs-in-iowa/, https://governor.iowa.gov/goals/1st-schools-in-the-nation/
[iii] Note: Representative Massie did sponsor a bill to help the parents of home schooled children with a tax credit for purchasing text books to educate their children (HF 294). Senator Sorenson did co-sponsor a bill which sought to provide money for the expansion of marketing for tourism in Iowa, no note was made of the possibility of job creation with the bill. (SF 213)
[iv] http://coolice.legis.state.ia.us/Cool-ICE/default.asp?Category=BillInfo&Service=DsplData&ga=84&var=sspo&cfid=7500, http://coolice.legis.state.ia.us/Cool-ICE/default.asp?Category=BillInfo&Service=DsplData&ga=84&var=hspo&cfid=10802
[v] Senate File 223
[vi] SF 301 and SF 328 – see 84th General Assembly Session 1 Daily Journal for vote record
[vii] www.legis.iowa.gov – see bills sponsored by Senator Sorenson and bills sponsored by Representative Massie
[viii] http://indianolarecordherald.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120110/NEWS09/301100047/Legislative-leaders-both-parties-list-objectives-session-urge-cooperation, http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/59a1186b4e5e4b03ac146bfef7dd84a2/IA-Iowa-Legislature-Democrats/