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THE 2016 PLATFORM OF THE MUSCATINE COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY


Presented for adoption March 12, 2016

We, the Democratic Party of Muscatine County, believe the purpose of government is to do as a society that which we cannot do as individuals and to assure that each individual may enjoy freedom without encroaching on the freedoms of others.

We affirm that we each have the right as humans to the basics of a good life, including security, adequate diet, decent shelter, access to sufficient health care, quality education that cultivates the unique abilities of all, opportunities for meaningful work, and the freedom to marry whomever we choose.

We also believe that those of us blessed with abilities to acquire wealth beyond our basic needs have an obligation to share from our surplus with those who are less fortunate, and that an equitable tax system is the fairest way for us all to meet this obligation.

We support government which intervenes against encroachments on individual liberties. We support strong protection of the human and civil rights of all minorities, the free expression of ideas, and free choice in our individual actions so long as they do not interfere with the lives of others.

We believe in the power of diplomacy and dialogue, so we want our government to be a leading force within the world community toward elimination of armed conflicts among nations, as well as the establishment of guarantees of basic human rights for all peoples.

Our shared belief in the good that citizens and government can do together gives us purpose, while diversity of individual opinions is our strength. Together we form the character of the Democratic Party.

Beyond broad principles, the remainder of this platform expresses consensus on specific issues—whether raised in our neighborhood caucuses or carried forward with much deliberation from past platforms.

This is what Democrats agree upon in Muscatine County, Iowa.

AGRICULTURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT - AE

Family farming is central to Iowa’s economy, culture, and heritage. Farming as a way of life has too often suffered under federal farm policy. The environment has become a key concern. The following problems need to be addressed.

Livestock Management – LM

We support
1. Aid for crop diversification
2. Education programs for farmers and livestock breeders
3. Preventing the loss of farm land due to development and erosion
4. Local control over the siting of CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation)
5. Incentives for land owners who enter into conservation agreements
6. Restricting environmentally unsound farming operations
7. Research for sustainable, low impact farming practices
8. Requiring Clean Water Act permits for all CAFO farms

Recycling and Energy – RE

We support
1. Incentives for development of renewable energy resources
2. Research on fusion as a safer future energy source
3. Economic incentives to process and recycle waste rather than dispose of it in landfills
4. Extending the Bottle Bill to include all water and beverage containers requiring Iowa manufacturers of durable goods to label product parts as to their recyclability
5. Establish resource recovery/recycling centers
6. Using recycled tire material in environmentally sound ways
7. Requiring all Muscatine County trash services to provide recycling pick-up

Environmental Enhancement & Regulation – ER

We support
1. The right of all Iowans to have clean air and water
2. Preservation of wildlife and expansion of our wilderness and wetland areas
3. Aggressive enforcement of air and water pollution regulations by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and other governmental agencies (city, county, state and federal)
4. Green taxes to discourage emissions, products, or activities harmful to the environment
5. Holding corporations accountable for environmental damage
6. A gradual phase-out of coal power plants and replacement by energy from renewable sources
7. Increasing fines for repeated violations of environmental laws
8. Using fines collected to repair environmental damage

Watershed Management – WM

We support
1. Protecting our aquifers and waterways
2. Building and maintaining waste water infrastructure using best available technology
3. Effective measures to control non-point-source pollution runoff
4. Protecting ground water by requiring a ground liner for all open storage of toxic material including coal and coal ash.
Sustainable Rural Development – SD

We support
1. Allowing the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to retain control of all funds collected for environmental, conservation, or recreational use rather than flowing to the state’s general fund
2. Zoning flood plain areas for land-use activities (parks, open space, recreation, wildlife preserves) which facilitate flood prevention and control and mitigate economic damage

INCOME and WEALTH - IW

We support
1. Raising the minimum wage to a living wage
2. Reducing the extreme uneven distribution of the nation's income and wealth
3. A nominal tax on all stock and bond transactions
4. Constraints to keep the economy from slipping into a dysfunctional state
5. Effective regulation of stocks, commodities and derivatives trading
6. Long term economic planning and legislation that insures the stability of entitlement programs

We oppose

1. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Job Security – JS

We support
1. An effective program of federally funded tuition assistance for all citizens at any level of education
2. Financial deterrents to prevent companies from outsourcing U.S jobs or taking their businesses outside the U.S.
3. Fair trade agreements ensuring that nations and companies provide decent wages, humane working conditions, and sound environmental policies
4. Governmental purchases of U.S-made products
5. The extension of unemployment benefits to all employees laid off for seasonal or routine reasons
6. The strengthening of the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS)

We Oppose
1. The use of subcontractors by employers to evade the responsibilities of full time employment
2. Efforts by employers to deny standard employee benefits

Worker's Rights & Safety – WR

We support
1. Repealing all legislation that inhibits the right of individuals to organize in labor unions regardless of position or any other currently disqualifying classification
2. Expanding the scope of bargaining for public sector employees
3. Strengthening the law so unions can organize for fair wages and safe working conditions
4. A prevailing wage law for Iowa workers on government projects to promote proven beneficial effects on the economy, quality of work, and worker safety
5. Requiring insurers to pay all bills directly that result from an on-the-job injury including rehabilitation service, and allowing those injured workers to choose their own medical care providers
6. Allowing workers redress through the courts in worker compensation cases
7. Rigorous enforcement of all state and federal labor laws
8. Increasing work-related death benefits

EDUCATION – ED

School Funding – SF

We support

1. Adequate state funding for
a. Competitive salaries for all Iowa school employees
b. Maintaining Iowa Public School teacher salaries in the top half in the nation
c. Meaningful professional development for teachers and educational support personnel
2. Full funding of quality free to the public education for Head Start, nutritional school meals, special education, preK-12, baccalaureate, and/or vocational certification
3. Student-loan forgiveness for teachers in locales and in discipline areas where there are teacher shortages
4. Increasing federal funding for military veterans’ educational benefits
5. Establishing a permanent allowable growth rate minimum equal to CPI (Consumer Price Index)
6. Investments in before and after school programs that provide a safe, enriched environment for all children

We oppose:
1. Public funding for non-public schools
2. Balancing school budgets by cutting art, music, physical education, counseling programs, and nurses

Public School Programming - SP

We support
1. More involvement of faculty and staff in decision making in schools
2. New technology in schools
3. Using course-delivery computer technologies in PreK-12, only for teacher -assisted instruction
4. Expanded vocational education curricula and program funding for grades 9-12
5. Curriculum designed to engage every child
6. Sex positive, comprehensive, research-based sexual health educational programs
7. Special education programs and alternative education programs
8. Starting foreign language study in pre-school or early elementary years
9. Requiring American Civics proficiency for high school diploma
10. An Iowa student-teacher ratio that is lower than the national average

We oppose
1. Abstinence-only educational programs
2. Unfunded mandates for educational reform

Higher Education - HE

We support
1. Fully funding community colleges while guaranteeing that no school receives less funding than the previous year
2. Renewed emphasis on quality undergraduate instruction
3. Expanding eligibility for student aid to undergraduate and graduate college education through grants, scholarships, and loans
4. More programs of public service for student loan repayment
5. Uniform collection of student loan repayments
6. Low-interest student loans
7. Fighting “brain drain” through graduated loan forgiveness for graduates who stay in Iowa
8. Full funding of job-training programs at community colleges
9. Increasing community college faculty salaries so they match and then surpass the national average

GOVERNMENT & LAW – GL

Campaigns and Elections – CE

We support
1. Electing the U.S. President and Vice President by direct popular vote
2. Adopting a national holiday for holding federal elections
3. Universal voter registration and vote by mail processes
4. Greater diversity of candidates for elective offices
5. A strong, aggressive Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board
6. Requiring all voting machines to use code that can be audited and leave a paper trail
7. Requiring a mandatory statistical audit of results after every election.
8. Partial public financing of all campaigns, with limits and incentives to individual contributions
9. The concept that “corporations are NOT people” through legislative action or a constitutional amendment that reverses the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United and limits corporate activity in elections.
10. The elimination of “Gerrymandering” through the passage of Federal standards for redistricting based on rules and standards adopted by Iowa

Legislative Process - LP

We support
1. Making it less difficult to end a filibuster in the U.S. Senate by incrementally reducing the votes needed for cloture
2. Restricting individual holds on nominees

Civil Rights – CR

We support
1. Adopting an equal rights amendment to the U.S. Constitution
2. Adopting the Iowa Equal Rights Amendment
3. Adding political affiliation and sexual orientation as protected categories in federal and state civil rights acts
4. Modifying the U.S. Patriot Act consistent with longstanding constitutional protections
5. Mediation and arbitration before resort to litigation
6. Funding and staffing for the Iowa Civil Rights Commission
7. Same sex marriage and nationwide recognition

We oppose
1. Laws establishing English as the sole official language of any governing body at any level

Budget and Taxation - BT

We support
1. Treating all forms of income equally under a more progressive tax code
2. Full funding for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the Iowa Department of Revenue, so that our tax codes may be enforced and all revenue due to our government may be collected
3. Inheritance tax on estates over $5 million
4. Closing loopholes and making it illegal for individuals and corporations to set up offshore entities to avoid paying U.S. taxes
5. Extending the middle class tax cuts including child tax credit and marriage penalty relief
6. Simplify and change property tax assessment to a fair market price and a more equitable system
7. A progressive residential property tax on assessed values above $300,000
8. A cap on personal residential taxes for low-income citizens
9. Create a more equitable tax system by eliminating tax advantages for the wealthy
10. Regular auditing of all government agencies, including the Department of Defense

Social Security and Medicare - SM

We support
1. Preserving Social Security and Medicare as social insurance programs
2. Protection of the Social Security Trust Fund from uses other than benefit payments
3. Separation of the Trust Fund from the unified federal budget
4. Improving the formula for cost of living adjustments and increasing earned income limits
5. Removal of FICA (Federal Insurance Contribution Act) payroll wage caps

We oppose
1. The privatizing of Social Security and Medicare

Reproductive Rights – RR

We support
1. Reproductive freedom for all individuals, including freedom from government intrusion
2. Full access to family planning information and procedures appropriate to each individual’s needs
3. Educational programs teaching birth control options and ways to avoid sexually transmitted diseases

We oppose
1. Government restrictions that impede access to abortion or contraception

Criminal Justice – CJ

We support
1. Equal justice for all
2. Aggressive enforcement of laws prohibiting operation of motor vehicles while intoxicated, impaired or distracted
3. Expansion of mental health and substance abuse programs rather than jail or prison
4. Improved training for police and corrections officers dealing with persons with mental illness
5. Alternatives to prison terms with focus on rehabilitation and expanded parole options
6. Thorough videotaping of all interrogations
7. Restorative justice programs
8. Automatic reinstatement of voting rights upon completion of sentence

We oppose
1. The death penalty
2. The present system of minimum mandatory sentencing
3. Racial profiling

Internet – IN

We support
1. Universal access to high-speed broadband Internet service
2. Net Neutrality
3. Online access to all publicly available documents

Consumer Protection – CP

We support
1. Strengthening product safety standards and enforcement of those standards for all consumer goods regardless of source

Reasonable Gun Regulation – GR

We support
1. Responsible ownership and care of weapons
2. Better regulatory controls on gun dealers and gun shows
3. A 30-day waiting period and mandatory uniform background checks for firearm purchases
4. Legislation stating no handgun can be sold or delivered to anyone convicted of a felony involving a firearm or any person under age 21
5. A ban on assault and automatic weapons and a limit on magazine capacities
6. Firearm and hunting safety classes required to obtain a permit
7. Prohibiting carrying of firearms by civilians in public buildings
8. The right of property owners to prohibit firearms on their properties

We oppose
1. Open carry laws

Veterans - VA

We support
1. Continued efforts to account for all POW/MIA (Prisoners of War / Missing in Action) and all recoverable remains
2. Healthcare, education, housing and other benefits for veterans and members of the armed forces
3. Special attention to needs arising from participation in military action

Immigration Reform – IR

We support
1. Comprehensive immigration reform
a. An earned path to citizenship for the undocumented workforce
b. Adopting the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act at federal and state levels
c. Granting immigrant detainees due process
d. Ending the immigrant detention quota
2. The classification of unaccompanied minors seeking entry to the United States as refugees

HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES – HH

A caring community provides a safety net of health and human services to meet the basic needs of all people within its borders without discrimination. The goal is to enable individuals and families to reach their full potential. Comprehensive reform of health care (mental and physical) is needed. Affordable, accessible, and quality health care are basic human rights, not privileges.

Universal Healthcare Coverage – UH

We support
1. Nationally regulated standards of quality with accountability to agreed upon standards with full disclosure of benefits to each and all participants; Iowa can adopt minimum standards and all approved insurance companies will be accepted by licensed providers.
2. The Affordable Care Act and other legislation designed to bring full and fair access to health care to all
3. Healthcare that includes
a. Traditional healthcare plus chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy, full vision coverage including vision wear, dental and dental wear, hearing including hearing devices, prosthetic and assistive devices, prescription drug coverage, long term care, preventive care, mental health, and substance abuse services
b. Unrestricted access for reproductive health services including family planning, contraceptive services, emergency contraceptives, and fertility services
c. Access to abortion services as defined by the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision of 1973
d. Medical use of marijuana and whole plant medicine with Iowa dispensaries.
4. Physician and hospital choice
5. Increased funding for HIV and stem cell research
6. Strict confidentiality of patient records with patients controlling access to their records and genetic information
7. Effective cost controls We oppose
1. Insurance company practices that cost too much and cover too little in determining rates and denying coverage

Mental Health - MH

We Support
1. A long term funding formula to assure adequate access to mental health services for youth and adults
2. Improving and increasing the mental health workforce and system
3. Implementation of a children’s mental health system

Child Protection and Well Being - CP

We support
1. Fully funded programs promoting child health, safety, development, and pre-natal care
2. Fully funded child welfare programs with attention to family preservation, pregnancy planning, parenting training, and stability for children
3. Foster care for children up to age 21 that also includes services for independent living
4. Fully funded domestic violence shelters, prevention services, and outreach
5. Increased Iowa funding for Aid to Dependent Children

We oppose
1. The abrupt closing of the Iowa Juvenile Home and Girls State Training School at Toledo, Iowa



Affordable Housing - AH

We support
1. Construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation of affordable housing

Homeless Services - HS

We support
1. Providing homeless people with food, shelter, financial services, and educational opportunities as well as greater access to social services and job and training opportunities
2. Broader dissemination of public information concerning housing programs
3. Increasing Section 8 housing vouchers, incentives for landlords to accept the vouchers, and tools for communication and acceptance of programs
4. More and better housing for the homeless and poor

Disability Services – DS

We support
1. Improving accessibility and full participation in all aspects of life
2. Ending discriminatory employment practices and policies
3. Improving early diagnosis and treatment
4. Improving respite and in-home services

Elderly Services – ES

We support
1. Providing services and funding for older Iowans to enable them to live independently as long as possible

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS – IA
The foreign policy of the United States should not sacrifice human rights for political or economic expedience. We support forms of conflict resolution that focus on diplomacy while avoiding the use of military force. We must work to eliminate fear and aggression as a political tool. We support the continuing U.S. participation in the United Nations as an efficient means for reconciling international issues and dealing with mutual concerns facing the global community.

The Rule of Law - RL

We support
1. The U.S. adherence to the rule of law
2. U.S. adherence to international standards regarding humane treatment of prisoners of war and security detainees
3. Immediate and final closing of the Guantanamo detention facility
4. Access to federal courts for foreigners detained by presidential order
5. The U.S. joining the International Criminal Court
6. U.S. ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

Middle East Peace - ME

We support
1. A two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
2. Humanitarian aid to Israelis and Palestinians

We oppose
1. All acts of violence by any party under any pretext, whether claimed to be aggressive or defensive
2. Continued construction of Israeli settlements on disputed lands within the West Bank

Building Peace – BP

We support
1. International humanitarian relief and reconstruction for Iraq and Afghanistan
2. Increasing foreign aid to Latin American countries to reduce criminal gang activity and its impact on US immigration and import of illegal drugs
3. Increasing humanitarian involvement and international support for democratic governments
4. Normalization of relations with Cuba
5. Fair, free, and open elections in post-war societies that are accepted as legitimate by their own citizens
6. Promoting citizen diplomacy with people of other countries
7. Transitioning from a permanent war economy to a peacetime economy
8. Reducing U.S. military forces abroad

We oppose
1. All forms of terrorism and torture