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IOWA CHAPTER


 

Good Government

 


The Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club is committed to environmental protection.  The Chapter applies pressure on political leaders and government decision makers in order to achieve positive changes to protect the environment.  Active participation in a democracy ensures our elected officials and decision makers fairly represent the voters and the public interests, not the polluters’ interests.

Members and supporters are involved with influencing decision makers in city, county, state and federal governments.  Our work involves the legislative, executive and judicial branches of state government.  We regularly bring issues to the commissions, boards and stakeholder groups of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Iowa Department of Transportation, the Iowa Utilities Board, and the Iowa Department of Economic Development.  The Chapter also takes legal action in the state and federal courts to support our environmental initiatives.

Read Making Government Work for the People for the Chapter's recommendations for improving government so that it works for all of us.

Corporations Are Not People

For more than a century corporations have been able to shift power from “we the people” to corporations. Through a series of United States Supreme Court cases, corporations are considered to be persons and have been given the same rights as natural persons. In order to return political and electoral power to natural citizens, an amendment to the United States Constitution is being proposed.

Because corporations are not real persons, they cannot be held accountable for their actions in the same way as real persons. Unlike real people, corporations can exist forever. Business entities exist for the sole purpose of making money.

The environment is negatively affected by corporate personhood:

  • Money that has flowed into campaigns drowns public discussion on environmental issues and prevention of pollution

  • Corporate power has resulted in attempts to abandon and weaken environmental rules and regulations

  • Media consolidations mean there are fewer outlets to report on environmental issues

The Sierra Club has joined a coalition to advance the efforts to amend the constitution so that corporations are not persons. For more information on this coalition, see www.movetoamend.org. Currently supporters are being asked to sign an on-line petition to show their support. The petition states “We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights. The petition can be found here. Once 500,000 signatures have been gathered, members of the United States House and Senate are going to be asked to submit a constitutional amendment.

For more information, visit http://www.sierraclub.org/committees/cac/corporatepower/

 

 Voting is a Right for All US Citizens

q  Voting is a right that cannot be taken away.

  • Allow every adult US citizen to vote.   Voters should not be required to show an ID to exercise that right.
  • Voter suppression must end, including automatic purges of election lists.
  • Retain voters on the voter lists even if they move to a different address within the state.  Citizens should be able to register to vote on Election Day or should be able to register their new addresses on Election Day.
  • Preserve felons’ voting rights.

q  All citizens need easy and convenient access to the polls.

  • Allow all voters to cast their ballots by mail if they choose that method.

  • An adequate number of poll workers need to be hired so that all people in line can vote within 15 minutes.

q  Remove corporate money from politics.   

  • Votes can only be cast by people so only people should be allowed to contribute to election campaigns.
  • Require the naming of donors to all political organizations along with the amount of the donation, regardless of whether the organization is working on issues or candidates.  Compel organizations to disclose the candidates and/or issues that were supported or opposed.  
  • Money is not speech.   Place enforceable limits on campaign expenditures.
  • Publicly finance elections.

q  Bring facts and logic back into politics.

  • Assess penalties for slanderous and verifiably false political ads.

The Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club supports legislation that promotes open and fair elections and that protects the rights of all voters.

Iowa Legislative Resolution Requests a Constitutional Convention to Address an Amendment to the US Constitution to Overturn Citizens United

A recent United States Supreme Court decision, Citizens United versus the Federal Election Commission, allowed corporations to donate unlimited sums of money to political campaigns.  Through a series of United States Supreme Court cases over the last century, corporations are considered to be persons and have been given the same rights as natural persons that resulted in the Citizens United decision.

In order to return political and electoral power to natural persons, an amendment to the United States Constitution is being proposed.  The amendment proposes that artificial entities such as corporations do not enjoy constitutional rights and that money is not considered free speech.  

Amending the Constitution requires that two-thirds of the state legislatures pass a resolution asking for a constitutional convention in order to consider an amendment to the United States Constitution; in this case, that corporations are not people and money is not speech. 

The Iowa Chapter supports the Iowa Legislature adopting a joint resolution calling for a constitutional convention to address an amendment to the US Constitution to allow Congress and the states to prohibit or otherwise regulate the expenditure of funds for political speech by any corporation, any limited liability company or any other corporate entity.

Text of the Proposed Amendment to the United States Constitution

Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]

The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

Section 2. [Money is Not Free Speech]

Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate's own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.

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Last Updated 03.04.14

Iowa Chapter Documents:

Making Government Work for the People

Voting is a Right for all US Citizens

Green Jobs: Economic Development, 
Environmental Protection, and 
Workers’ Rights 

 


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