From Rep. Joe Mitchell
February 21, 2019
This week was a busy week here at the Capitol. I was able to meet with constituents visiting the Capitol, vote on essential Judicial Nomination Reform, and speak on the House floor recognizing Black History Month. Needless to say, I am in the full swing of things here in Des Moines and I am proud of the legislation that is being moved forward for the State of Iowa.
I met with the Access Energy Cooperation this week at the Capitol. It is always a pleasure to meet and hear about issues that are important to them.
The Future Caucus
This week, I announced the creation of the Iowa Future Caucus, a brand-new caucus comprised of legislators age 40 and under. The announcement is part of a nation-wide movement in state houses across the country where Millennial legislators are seeking to find common ground in an era of hyper-partisanship. With the launch, Iowa becomes the 28th state to join Millennial Action Project’s national State Future Caucus Network.
As the Co-Chair of The Future Caucus, I plan on focusing on issues that Millennials care about. Iowa’s Future Caucus will be part of the Millennial Action Project’s national effort to support young elected officials as they work to break through partisan gridlock and reestablish political cooperation.
I believe that collaboration across party lines is crucial to ensuring we find common ground on issues facing Millennials. It is an honor to co-chair the Iowa Future Caucus with Senator Nunn, Wahls and Representative James, and I look forward to fostering bipartisan dialogue among young legislators.
This week, I met with Henry County Sheriff Rich McNamee at the Sheriffs and Deputies Reception of Iowa. The Sheriff and I talked about several top priorities of law enforcement and ways to effectively keep Iowa citizens safe. The Sheriff and I joined other law enforcement officials from Iowa to discuss issues within the criminal justice system and law enforcement concerns.
Judicial Nomination Reform
After hearing from constituents and other experts, I have decided to support HSB 110. The current system used in Iowa to place judges and justices on the bench is a merit-based system commonly referred to as the “Missouri Plan.” Under this system, Iowa has 14 district court commissions and a state commission. These commissions select nominees to submit to the Governor to fill judicial vacancies. For the Supreme Court, 3 nominees are given to the Governor; for district court vacancies, 2 nominees are advanced. The Governor must select one of these nominees within 30 days of receiving it. If the Governor does not make the selection within 30 days, the Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court makes the selection.
Several states that have used the Missouri Plan are now debating changes. Tennessee has totally moved away from this plan, and even Missouri is considering changes. The legislation being considered in Iowa would give more voice to the people through their elected officials, regardless of political party.
Why is change necessary? In the current system, attorneys are electing other attorneys with no oversight or accountability to the people. It has also become clear that very few attorneys are participating in the process. In 2018, over 7,000 lawyer members of the bar were eligible to vote for commissioners. Only 18.45% of attorneys eligible to vote actually voted and participated in the process. This means that less than .05% of the people of Iowa, those being attorneys, had a voice in this part of the process.
The changes to the judicial nomination process being considered in HSB110 would result in greater transparency, greater accountability to the citizens of our state, improves the integrity of the system through a more public process, removes the potential of undue influence or pressure resulting from a Judge or Justice being Chair of a commission, all while maintaining a strong attorney presence and the merit system of selection. Our system works best when the power resides with the people, as envisioned by our Founders. HSB110 would return a measure of power to the people in the selection of judges and justices.
I hope you can join me in support of this bill for the various reasons above.
This week I spoke on the House floor for Black History Month. I shared the story of a constituent from Mount Pleasant, Ken Brown.
In the next few weeks, I plan to continue holding subcommittee meetings for bills that I believe will improve the lives of Iowans. One of those bills is House Study Bill 148. This is a bill that permits the sale of mixed drinks with hard alcohol at wineries. Currently, wineries are prohibited from selling hard alcoholic mixed drinks and are limited to beer and wine. My colleagues and I decided to support this bill on two grounds. First, this will generate more revenue for small wineries across Iowa, putting more money into local economies. Second, it will generate more tax revenue, with little to no opportunity costs. I feel this a great opportunity to support local Iowa businesses.
In addition to holding subcommittee meetings, I am looking forward to meeting with more constituents both here at the Capitol and at home in the district. Feel free to follow my Facebook page for more updates throughout the week!
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