The Iowa State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse

This website provides news, pro & con, historical, and other information related to Iowa's constitutionally mandated November 3, 2020 referendum on whether to call a state constitutional convention.

Major Recent Democracy Reform Reports

 

#1

Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, June 2020, 84 pages. Includes 31 proposal to reform our democracy at both the national and state level. The report concludes: “Trust in institutions has collapsed while an online culture of gleeful, nihilistic cynicism thrives.”

Recommendations covering states include:

RECOMMENDATION 1.2
Introduce ranked-choice voting in presidential, congressional, and state elections.

RECOMMENDATION 1.4
Support adoption, through state legislation,
of independent citizen-redistricting commissions in all fifty states.

RECOMMENDATION 1.6
Pass strong campaign-finance disclosure laws
in all fifty states that require full transparency for campaign donations, including from
501(c)(4) organizations and LLCs.

RECOMMENDATION 1.7
Pass “clean election laws” for federal, state,
and local elections through mechanisms such
as public matching donation systems and democracy vouchers, which amplify the power
of small donors.

RECOMMENDATION 2.1
Give people more choices about where and
when they vote, with state-level legislation in
all states that supports the implementation of
vote centers and early voting.

RECOMMENDATION 3.1
Adopt formats, processes, and technologies
that are designed to encourage widespread participation by residents in official public hearings and meetings at local and state levels.

RECOMMENDATION 3.4
Expand the breadth of participatory opportunities at municipal and state levels for citizens
to shape decision-making, budgeting, and
other policy-making processes.

RECOMMENDATION 6.4
Increase public and private funding for media
campaigns and grassroots narratives about
how to revitalize constitutional democracy….

Note that this report was discussed on Iowa Public Radio on June 24, 2020.

 

#2

“Our Policy Platform,” RepresentUs. Availalble at https://represent.us/anticorruption-act/. Accessed on August 5, 2020.

  • Enact reasonable term limits
  • Let voters rank their top candidates
  • End gerrymandering
  • Let all voters participate in open primaries
  • Allow all Americans to Vote Absentee
  • Change how elections are funded
  • Make it illegal for politicians to take money from lobbyists
  • Ban lobbyist bundling
  • Close the revolving door
  • Prevent politicians from fundraising during working hours
  • Immediately disclose political money online
  • Stop donors from hiding behind secret-money groups

Here are two videos from RepresentUs making its case. Note that the strategy for bypassing legislatures–in these videos, the legislature is Congress–is to pass legislation at the state and local levels of government. In practice, most of that legislation has been passed via the initiative.

RepresentUs focuses on states and localities with the initiative, not the periodic state constitutional convention referendum. But as I explained at its last national conference, Unrig the System, the legislative bypass logic of the initiative is similar to that of the periodic state constitutional convention referendum. My presentation can be found here.

#3

The Ethics Blind Spot, How the House and Senate Ethics Committees fail to uphold high ethical standards–and solutions to fix the problem, Issue One, 2018.

Issue One focuses on national, not state and local democratic reform. But it often addresses legislative deficiencies that are widespread because rooted in systematic conflicts of interest by incumbent legislators.

 

 

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