2013 Session in Review, 2014 Plans

tamara scott
Tamara Scott

greg baker
Greg Baker

danny carroll
Danny Carroll

chuck hurley
Chuck Hurley

The 2013 Legislative Session is officially over and The FAMiLY LEADER gives it mixed reviews. This year’s session was perhaps the greatest in history for school choice with huge victories for both private and home school families, gambling expansion was stopped, and the largest tax cut in state history was passed.

But not a single pro-life bill passed the House or Senate, little changes were made to taxpayer funded abortions and abortion providers, and the Iowa Marriage Amendment failed to pass in both the House and Senate.

This year’s team included Chuck Hurley, Danny Carroll, Greg Baker and Tamara Scott.

Here is a brief overview of some of the issues we focused on at TFL:


Iowa Marriage Amendment

married couple

The Republican controlled House decided against advancing the marriage amendment out of committee. Several cosponsors from last year were reluctant to sign the bill in 2013 and others were late in doing so. We extend our appreciation to the following cosponsors of HJR 6, Iowa Marriage Amendment, which includes 35 of the 53 Republicans and 0 of the 47 Democrats:


The marriage amendment is eligible for consideration during the 2014 session and will be a priority of The FAMiLY LEADER as we look forward to next year.




Education reform was a priority this past session. The FAMiLY LEADER along with other interest groups worked to include benefits for home school and private school families. We are very pleased to report that several important provisions related to school choice were included in the final legislation. These included instruction options and reporting relief for home school families. Private schools gained freedom in accreditation and will see an increase in the statewide cap on tuition assistance tax credits. Parent taught drivers education was also legalized for home school parents.

We extend our appreciation to House Republicans who made home school and private school issues a priority. We also extend special gratitude to Representative Salmon and Gassman who led the effort on the House Education Committee.

We also want to thank Eric Goranson with Iowa Association of Christian Schools, Tom Chapman with the Iowa Catholic Conference, and Bill Gustoff with NICHE. It was their hard work that made success a reality.

Iowa Association Christian Schools
Iowa Association Christian Schools

Iowa Catholic Conference
Iowa Catholic Conference

Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators









The FAMiLY LEADER fought hard to prevent tax dollars from going to abortion providers (like Planned Parenthood). Each year millions of dollars find their way into the bank accounts of abortion providers. Our primary focus this year was on the Health and Human Services budget bill. We asked pro-life legislators to refuse to vote for the budget bill if it did NOT prohibit tax funds from going to abortion providers. While the bill passed the House with bipartisan support on the last day of the session, eleven House Republicans held firm and voted NO. They included:


These heroes deserve our gratitude for standing against the status quo and voting their conscience regardless of the cost. Well done!

Personhood legislation, which protects life at conception, was introduced again this year in the Iowa House by Representative Shaw and several other Republicans. However, it once again failed to get support in the Judiciary Committee and was not given the opportunity to come to a vote.


Senator Dennis Guth, from Klemme, introduced the Human Life Amendment which would amend the Iowa Constitution to say that the inalienable right to life of every person at any stage of development shall be recognized and protected. The FAMiLY LEADER will be working on this amendment every legislative session until it is ratified in Iowa. Senator Guth is a champion in the fight to protect life.

We look forward to working with Dan Becker and Personhood USA in the fight to protect life from conception to natural death in future legislative sessions.



Life, Marriage, and Family Rally

LMF-rally_adTFL hosted their annual Life, Marriage, and Family Rally this year in the Iowa Capitol on April 23rd. This year Dan Becker with Personhood USA joined us for our rally. The day started with a legislative breakfast. Over 25 representatives and senators came to listen and ask questions of Dan Becker on the Personhood initiative.

[wowslider id=”4″] Over 100 people attended the rally that took place on the first floor rotunda of the Iowa Capitol. This year’s rally’s key focus was on defunding of abortion providers. The rally also focused on marriage, gambling, and other pro-life legislation. Dan Becker along with Bob Vander Plaats, Danny Carroll, Chuck Hurley, Tamara Scott, and Greg Baker addressed the crowd. Following the rally everyone lobbied the Iowa Legislature for two hours on the issue of funding for abortions and abortion providers. Many spent the time to visit with their legislators on this important issue as well as thank them for their service and pray for them and their families.


Divorce/ Gambling/ and Pay Day Loans

r-wThe FAMiLY LEADER also worked on a wide range of other issues at the Capitol. Our lobbyists worked to stop the gambling industry expanding to online poker. Online poker failed to pass in both the Iowa House and Senate. Also on the issue of gambling, The FAMiLY LEADER prevented the passage of a bill that would have ended a critical study done by the state that shines light on the socio-economic effects gambling has on a community. Without this study little would be done about gambling’s negative consequences on the family and community.

payday loansTFL also worked with multiple organizations to pass more regulations on Payday loan lenders. Payday loans take advantage of some of the neediest in our society by charging them on average 297% by the time they pay off their loan. These new regulations would have required Payday lenders to follow the same rules our banking industry currently follows. Unfortunately, this bill failed to pass in both the House and Senate.

Another bill TFL worked on was a divorce reform bill that was introduced by freshman representative Ted Gassman. This bill would have restored fault based divorce in cases where minor children are involved. The bill did pass in committee, but was not brought up to a vote on the House floor.



We extend our thanks to all those who visited the capitol this past session and joined us in our lobbying efforts. We especially want to mention Pastor Brad Cranston from Burlington and dozens of his fellow pastors who made the trip to Des Moines several times during the session.


Possible agenda items for the 2014 session

  1. Iowa Marriage Amendment – passage in both chambers
  2. Human Life Amendment – passage in both chambers
  3. De-fund abortionists – passage in both chambers and signed by the Governor
  4. Passage of Education Savings Accounts for private and home school families


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Warren County Citizens Get the Credit

“It is amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.”
― John Wooden

The FAMiLY LEADER was asked several times by the media why we were getting involved with a local issue like the vote on gambling in Warren County.  The answer is simple – because families are at stake.  No matter where or what it takes, we try and do what we can.  We were happy to do target phone calls, coordinate a townhall meeting, and use our communications to assist Erica Isley of NoCasinoWarrenCounty.com, Tom Coates of Consumer Credit of Des Moines, Tamara Scott of Concerned Women for America of Iowa, the local churches, and the countless Warren County citizens who worked tirelessly.  It is them, not us, that deserve the credit for this win.

We don’t know how many lives may have been saved, how many bankruptcies may have been avoided, how many families will stay intact because of how the vote went.  But we do know that the Warren County citizens did the bold thing, the hard thing, and loudly shouted, “NO! We value our families and communities more than we want the allurement of easy money.”

Bob recaps the vote and celebrates with Tamara Scott and Greg Baker how the election became such a huge success:

[youtube_sc url=”http://youtu.be/qwS3L5jg1aU” width=”425″ height=”229″ rel=”0″ showinfo=”0″]
duration ~ 13:00

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Warren County Wins! Woo-hoo!

The FAMiLY LEADER commends the citizens of Warren County for recognizing that gambling is not economic development.


INDIANOLA, IA. — Warren County voters Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a referendum to allow casino gambling in the county.

The measure, which needed a simple majority of support to pass, garnered 60 percent negative votes and failed in all but one of the 13 precincts where it was considered.

Entire article at the Des Moines Register…


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WATCH: Bob Discusses Marriage with Sen. McCoy

Bob Vander Plaats and Senator Matt McCoy discussed the importance of marriage and family in the wake of a formerly-unknown NBA player, Jason Collins announcing he was now part of the homosexual lifestyle.  Bob pointed out:

  • Any sex outside of marriage is against the heart of God.
  • No one opposed to the homosexual lifestyle has called for him to resign from basketball.
  • Sex within marriage is the healthiest and best way to live.
  • The FAMiLY LEADER is about championing the gold standard – we want only the best for Iowa’s families.


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Part 2:

  • Why same-sex “marriage” exists.
  • What happens when you undefine marriage?
  • What does it say about a party if they change their position on a foundational issue like marriage?

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Part 3:

  • Why TFL is involved opposing a casino in Warren County.
  • Why gambling hurts families.
  • What impact gambling has in a community.


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Part 4:

  • Why the Senate investigation of Kent Sorenson needs to be put to rest quickly.
  • What impact this investigation could have on the Iowa Caucuses.

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Part 5:

Predictions!  What would happen if the US Supreme Court overturns marriage.

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Video: Rick says “C’mon. Really?”

Rick, a resident of Warren County, expresses his view on why a proposed casino for Warren County is silly idea — a no-win situation.

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Video: Mom Shares Why Casino is Bad for Warren County

Duration ~ 1:24. A mother in Warren County Iowa explains why she is shocked at the Warren County Casino ​Proposal and is convinced why a new ​Casino is NOT needed anywhere near her communit​y, friends & family.

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Video: Townhall on Warren Co. Casino

Duration: 2:25 “Vote NO” was the recurring theme of speakers who addressed the problems that come with allowing gambling into a community.

Watch the reports on KCCI and WOI last night…

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Bi-Partisan Townhall on Gambling



The FAMiLY LEADER hosts a bi-partisan “Warren County Discussion” on the topic of gambling, open to the public.


WHAT           Townhall meeting hosted by The FAMiLY LEADER, open to the public.


WHEN          Thursday, May 2, 7:00 p.m.

WHERE        First Assembly of God Church

                        1700 W 2nd Ave

                        Indianola, IA  50125


WHY              To show why Warren County values and strong family heritage provide better economic development over the long-term than gambling.

WHO             TFL President, Bob Vander Plaats, will be joined by Tamara Scott of Concerned Women for America, Tom Coates of Consumer Credit of Des Moines, and Representative Dan Kelley (D).

CONTACT     David Barnett, Communications

515-314-2732 (cell)

515-263-3495 x21 (desk)




The FAMiLY LEADER champions the principle that God is the ultimate leader of the family. Our goal at The FAMiLY LEADER is to honor and glorify God – not a political party, not a candidate and not a program. The FAMiLY LEADER is a Christ centered organization that leads with humility and service to strengthen and protect the family. Learn more about our organization at https://thefamilyleader.com/our-mission-beliefs/.


Video: Talking Casinos with Tom Coates

In an entertaining and educational discussion on the Great Day program on KCWI 23, Tom Coates of Consumer Credit of Des Moines discusses gambling in Iowa and answers several questions:

  • What are the differences between “tourist model” and “convenience model” casinos?
  • How much revenue into a casino comes from the local community?
  • Are casinos a net gain or loss for a community?
  • Where does the revenue for casinos primarily come from?
  • What happens when the state becomes dependent upon gambling proceeds?
  • What would happen if we opened up gambling and had a completely free market?
  • Why not let people have the freedom of choice and spend their money how they want?

Video streaming by Ustream
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Norwalk Casino Editorial by Tom Coates

By Tom Coates –

During the recent debate over a proposed casino in Warren County and Norwalk, I find a real need to clarify the business model of the “convenience casino”. This model is contrasted with the “tourist model” employed by Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The tourist model brings the majority of its’ revenues from patrons outside their immediate geographical area. The convenience model employed by all 21 Iowa casinos relies almost entirely on revenues derived from natives who live within the 40 mile radius referred to as their feeder market. Approximately 80% comes from the feeder market.

The reason that this is important to understand is that this 80% represents a cannibalization of existing businesses of all types. The money spent on gambling would otherwise have gone to the purchase of goods and services already offered in the community.

If the effect stopped there it wouldn’t be a huge concern, but it doesn’t. To more fully understand the convenience casino business model, you must look at what percentage of their handle comes from addicted gamblers. Studies by various researchers have shown 40-50% come from problem and pathological gamblers. The emergence of the addicted gambler is shown by Iowa’s timeline prevalence study done in 1989 and again in 1995 after the arrival of casinos. Iowa went from 1.7% of population being problem or pathological to 5.4%. This increase appeared most acutely within the boundaries of the feeder market. Further, the closer the patron resides to the casino, the more likely the occurrence of the addictions.

From 1994 until 2000, my company administered the Iowa gambling hotline, 1-800-BETS-OFF. We witnessed the crisis calls increase from dozens to hundreds a month. These calls were most prevalent in the immediate surrounding areas of casinos.

The desire to keep this addicted 5% of Iowans continuing to provide their casinos with their dollars manifested itself with recent legislation. This would allow a banned problem gambler to unban themselves after 5 years, as if the result would be different the second time around.

The effects of creating pathological gamblers in our midst show a wide range of social pathologies playing out. Among these pathologies are: 22% divorce due to gambling, 49% steal to feed the habit, 40% lose their jobs, 63% contemplate suicide and 18% attempt suicide. Highest suicide rate for any addiction as heroin is next closest with 9%.
Two areas that have been measured by research in Iowa are attendant bankruptcies and crime. On bankruptcy, ISU performed a study in 1998 that showed 19% of the state’s filings were the result of gambling. SMR Research did two separate nationwide studies on counties with casinos that showed nearly identical results.

On crime, a recent survey of Iowa cities with casinos, showed an elevated crime index of 206% over cities with no casino. The leading national researcher, Professor Earl Grinols, with Baylor University, has done extensive national work that confirms the Iowa research. Grinols studies show that by year 5 of a casino opening in a community, the following crimes increase: Robbery + 136%; Aggravated assault + 91%; Auto theft +78%; Burglary +50%; Larceny + 38%; Rape + 20%. The costs are significant to any city embracing this model.

Some try to deny the crime increases by relying on statements from heads of local law enforcement. These individuals are often the biggest proponents of the casinos due to the increases in funding, staff, squad cars and equipment. Their statements must be weighed in regards to their own perceived self interest, since objective research soundly contradicts it.

In closing, citizens must decide if they indeed want to embrace even more of these convenience casinos. I hope I have provided enough valuable evidence to persuade them to the contrary.

Tom Coates, President, Consumer Credit of Des Moines

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5 Reasons to Stop the Norwalk Casino

On May 7, 2013 the people of Warren County are going to be voting on whether or not to legalize gambling in Warren County.  Wild Rose Entertainment has proposed to build a casino in Warren County, and they have promised millions of new tax dollars for the county and schools, as well as hundreds of new jobs.

Our opposition, the gambling industry, has been spending big dollars to convince people that there is a need for a casino in Norwalk, and The FAMiLY LEADER would like to assist local residents looking to stop this vice industry from coming into their community. The FAMiLY LEADER is in need of $5,000 to run a strong final push before the election. A gracious donor has contributed $2500 to the cause.  That means we just need an additional $2500 by Tuesday to fund our final efforts.

Please help us reach $5000 to fund our final push in the next few days before the election and donate $35, $50, or $500.Donate-Today_3smlst


Share this image with your friends by going to our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/THEFAMiLYLEADER


1. This state of 3 million people already has too many casinos.

The promises being made to Warren County are all stories Iowans have heard before: “If we build this casino it will bring in hundreds of jobs and jump start economic growth in our city.”  Ever since legalizing riverboat casinos in 1989, Iowa has turned into a “Cornfield Vegas.”  The state of Iowa has 18 casinos, with the proposed additions of Cedar Rapids and Norwalk, Iowa would house 20.

2. Economic development modeled after Nevada bankrupts the community.

It appears that Iowa has become reliant on casinos to pay for its government, and as a source of economic development.  Its’s as if we are trying to become another Nevada, which has the notorious gambling cities of Reno and Las Vegas.  Unfortunately, Nevada is known for more than casinos. A few other “accolades” include: highest bankruptcy rate in the country, highest high school dropout rate, highest violent crime rate, third worst overall crime rate, fifth highest suicide rate, and according to Forbes Magazine, Nevada is one of the worst states to retire in.  Gallup polling also found Nevada to be the fourth worst state to live in, while her neighboring state, Utah, was rated the best state to live (Utah is one of two states in America that doesn’t allow gambling).  For those who say gambling does not have an effect on culture, please explain Nevada.

3. Casinos have tremendous societal costs.

Norwalk should carefully weigh if all these so-called “new money and jobs” are what Norwalk really needs.  Norwalk is currently known as a quiet, safe community with excellent public schools and as a great place to raise a family.  Bringing in a casino would fundamentally change the city’s culture.  The once quiet, peaceful town would be filled with a gaudy Vegas-like atmosphere.  It would no longer be the attractive community close to Des Moines that young families desire to move to.  Instead, “What happens in Norwalk, will stay in Norwalk.”

4. Norwalk doesn’t need a casino to grow and develop.

As the Des Moines metro continues to grow more and more, young families will desire to move to communities like Norwalk.  If they build the casino, all Norwalk will receive is short-term, quick growth with lingering socio-economic problems.  Without the casino, Norwalk will continue to grow at a steady rate, but will grow in a way that will be much more beneficial for the community long-term.  Waukee doesn’t have a casino, and it seem to be doing well.  In fact, Hy-Vee and multiple other companies are looking to locate in Waukee.  Norwalk will benefit much more in the long-term if they choose to not build the casino.

5. Casinos make millions by taking millions.

Casinos prey off of the most vulnerable in society who often turn to casinos out of a desperate last resort.  Some get lucky and win big, but a vast majority find themselves on the fast track to bankruptcy. What will casino customers have to show at the end of a gambling day besides an empty wallet and the constant sounds of slot machines echoing over and over in their heads? Big, fancy casino buildings aren’t built by giving away too much money.  The only way casinos can give millions, is by making millions more off Iowa residents.


The state of Iowa should abandon the idea of an intentional vice as a source of economic development and government growth.  Iowa needs to find true economic development that brings good paying jobs to our state and doesn’t prey on the poorest of our society.  Norwalk, please protect the culture and image of your beautiful community and vote No on this casino.


Please help us reach $5000 to fund our final push in the next few days before the election and donate $35, $50, or $500.


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