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Iowa lawmakers pass bill to curb public sector unions

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Republican lawmakers in Iowa approved legislation on Thursday to limit the powers of public sector unions to negotiate for state and local employees, restrictions similar to those previously enacted in Wisconsin and Michigan.

Both the House of Representatives and the state Senate voted in favor of the measure, which was opposed by Democrats and unions who have said that it will gut collective bargaining rights.

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Iowa Republican Governor Terry Branstad supports the legislation, which paves the way for Iowa to join Wisconsin and Michigan in imposing restrictions on public sector unions. Branstad said it was needed to save money for the state.

“These reforms are intended to rebalance the collective bargaining system which has not been updated in more than 40 years,” Republican House Speaker Linda Upmeyer said in a statement Thursday.

“These are common sense reforms that preserve our system of collective bargaining and ensure Iowa’s taxpayers have a seat at the table.”

The measure lifts mandates that require state and local governments to negotiate with public sector unions on how much employees receive in health benefits. Instead, mandated negotiations would center on wages.

Public safety employees, including police and firefighters, would be exempted from the changes.

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The legislation also would make it easier to dismiss certain state and local employees, including teachers, who are deemed by their supervisors to be poor performers.

Groups including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees have said the measure, supported by the conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, would dismantle collective bargaining rights.

The House voted 53-47 in favor of the legislation, the Senate 29-21.

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(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Tom Brown)


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Melania Trump scorched by columnist for standing by president’s Thunberg bullying: ‘Indefensible’

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In a piece for the Washington Post, columnist Karen Tumulty called out first lady Melania Trump for her statement defending her husband's bullying of 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg in a fit of jealousy after she was selected Time Magazine's Person of the Year.

Responding to a statement from the White House that stated, “BeBest is the First Lady’s initiative, and she will continue to use it to do all she can to help children. It is no secret that the President and First Lady often communicate differently — as most married couples do. Their son is not an activist who travels the globe giving speeches. He is a 13-year-old who wants and deserves privacy,” Tumulty wasn't having it.

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BUSTED: Devin Nunes is hiding how he’s paying for all his frivolous lawsuits — which could land him in more trouble

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On Saturday, the Fresno Bee dived into a lingering question: How does Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) pay for all the lawsuits he is filing against journalists, satirists, and political critics?

"Nunes, R-Tulare, has filed lawsuits against Twitter, anonymous social media users known as Devin Nunes' Cow and Devin Nunes' Mom, a Republican political strategist, media companies, journalists, progressive watchdog groups, a political research firm that worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and a retired farmer in Nunes’ own district," noted the Bee.

These lawsuits were mainly filed in Virginia — a state with very loose laws against so-called "SLAPP suits," or meritless lawsuits intended to drown people in legal expenses in retaliation for expressing political opinions. Nunes was assisted in these suits by Steven Biss, a Virginia attorney, and yet except for the suit against the retired farmer, there is no clear record in Nunes' FEC reports of how he paid for the suits.

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Trump brings up Brett Kavanaugh in rage tweet at Democrats about coming impeachment trial

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On Saturday, President Donald Trump brought up Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in a bizarre rant against the "Radical Left, Do Nothing Dems" and his anger over the direction of the impeachment process:

After watching the disgraceful way that a wonderful man, @BrettKavanaugh, was treated by the Democrats, and now seeing first hand how these same Radical Left, Do Nothing Dems are treating the whole Impeachment Hoax, I understand why so many Dems are voting Republican!

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