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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

“My party and I don’t always agree.”

Photo contributed by the Iowa General Assembly.

By Andy Pavey and Tali Tesar

“My party and I don’t always agree. I’m more of a moderate than a conservative.”

Republican Dave Maxwell casts himself as someone willing to deviate from party lines in the hope of winning re-election to the Iowa House of Representatives for the fifth time. Maxwell says his greatest achievement in his seven years in office was striking a compromise on the judicial nomination process in Iowa.

“Last year the Governor wanted to really change the Judicial Nominating [Commission] for the Supreme Court,” he said. “I don’t think we need to be messing with that.”

The state of Iowa nominates justices to its Supreme Court through a 17-member commission. Previously, eight of these members were appointed by the governor while nine were attorneys elected by other attorneys. Republicans originally proposed a change that would make all committee members appointed by the Governor, but Maxwell and a few other House Republicans pushed for moderation and succeeded.

In 2018, Maxwell was one of five House Republicans to vote against a controversial bill banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, at around six weeks. The bill was later stuck down by the Iowa Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

“I really try to look out for these abortion issues. … I don’t believe in making abortion an impossibility. Just because I don’t need it doesn’t mean it isn’t needed somewhere,” he said. “I’m a senior male, and I don’t really have any business telling young people what they need to do with their lives.”

In reality, Rep. Maxwell’s record on women’s rights is more complicated. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, he voted in favor of HF 573, a rule signed into law by Governor Branstad in 2015. The bill requires physicians to provide ultrasounds prior to abortions “that displayed the approximate age of the fetus and that the woman had the opportunity to view the ultrasound image, to hear a description of the fetus, and to hear its heartbeat.”

In 2016, Maxwell also voted to ban the sale and donation of fetal tissue. “Federal law already bans the sale of fetal tissue, but allows for voluntary, unpaid donation by patients to assist medical research,” the ACLU explained. The bill, HF 2329, never made it to the floor of the State Senate.

Rep. Maxwell says he has been “ashamed” of Iowa’s health care system “ever since we passed the law to privatize Medicaid,” adding that “Iowa was running pretty efficiently [before].” This is a concern shared by his competitors in the race, Independent Kamal Hammouda and Democrat Sarah Smith, who were interviewed by The S&B on Jan. 24 and Feb. 14, respectively.

Though he is not in favor of eliminating private insurance entirely, Maxwell says “we need to get some sort of hybrid program.” His proposal is in line with many mainstream Democrats, including 2020 Presidential candidates like former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

Regarding sustainability, another of his top concerns, Maxwell says he’s most concerned with how agriculture impacts the natural environment. He hopes to work on “edge of field practices to get nitrates out of the water, … slowing down runoff … and [restoring] some wetlands that’s been converted to farmland.”

On a 2018 panel sponsored by the League of Women Voters, S&B records show Maxwell was less committed to action on the environment and skeptical about the concept of anthropogenic climate change itself. “The climate’s been changing ever since God came on the world. … Every year it changes,” he said at the time. “It’s either warmer or colder or wetter or drier. I don’t see it having a whole lot of an effect on what happens with food supply or farming in Iowa.”

Maxwell calls himself “very pragmatic” and says he aims to “figure out the things that will do the most good for the money we’re spending.” A member of the Agriculture, Natural Resources, Transportation and Ways and Means Committees, Maxwell has sponsored 19 pieces of legislation during his time in the State House.

Maxwell encourages constituents to reach out to him with questions, concerns or conversation. His email is dave.maxwell@legis., and his phone number is 641-660-0792.

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