Whether she is preparing to enforce Iowa’s new privacy law, or working through solutions with businesses in the state, newly-elected Iowa AG Brenna Bird’s philosophy is underpinned by a commonsense approach. In Episode 9 of State AG Pulse in conversation with fellow Midwesterner Meghan Stoppel and former Virginia AG Jerry Kilgore, General Bird talks about helping crime victims, recalibrating the office to best serve Iowans, and juggling her busy schedule with the demands of a young family.
(0:45) Jerry Kilgore introduces himself and co-host Megan Stoppel, previously consumer protection chief in Nebraska, together with AG Brenna Bird of Iowa. They discuss her background and what made her decide to run for AG.
(1:42) AG Bird references her past work as a prosecutor and her concern for doing justice and helping crime victims. As AG, she saw the opportunity to do that at the statewide level. She was further motivated by events in Washington DC relating to the Biden administration, federal agencies and government overreach. She perceives the AG’s role as being helpful in policymaking, and once a law is passed, defending it in the courts.
(3:40) Meghan weighs in to ask about new Iowa legislation and laws, in particular, the role of General Bird’s office in shaping the language of Iowa’s new privacy bill.
(4:30) AG Bird confirms that the legislative team had the laboring oar, but as they had questions or needed additional context, legislators reached out to her office for assistance. When the law goes into effect in January 2025 it will have a 90-day cure period, which General Bird flags as a helpful provision.
(5:15) Meghan points out that unlike some other states, Iowa’s 90 day cure period doesn’t ever expire, which will impact the way that businesses interact with the AG’s office.
(6:11) AG Bird explains that she is building out her team to be able to enforce the law in a commonsense way, that it’s not intended to be a “gotcha” law, but rather to ensure that Iowa consumers are fully protected.
(7:13) Jerry makes the point that privacy is an area of the law where a company may be a victim on one day, having been hacked by a criminal enterprise, and then suddenly a defendant in a lawsuit by state AGs. The 90-day cure period is appreciated in that it provides the ability for businesses to work with the AG’s office to pursue bad actors.
(7:45) Jerry goes on to ask about operational changes in the AG office. AG Bird explains that she is always looking for ways to work together better as a team and getting the best value for taxpayers.
(8:45) Jerry asks about how AG Bird is structuring the SG post. AG Bird explains that the solicitor general role is broad-ranging, with both state and federal aspects. The SG is responsible for the state’s legal position in appellate court, and also monitors litigation in ley areas that are important to Iowans.
(10:33) Meghan asks about the amicus brief that Iowa signed on to, led by General Reyes with support of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost involving a dispute over an open records request.
(11:10) AG Bird responds that she considers it an institutional responsibility of a state attorney general to help remind the courts of the unique role of the state AG within state government. Open records are supposed to provide transparency into the workings of government, without being a drag on or making it difficult for people to do their jobs in the executive branch.
(12:04) Jerry identifies energy as a divisive issue and asks General Bird where she stands on energy policy. She responds that she believes state AGs have a role in keeping the federal government in check and preventing government entities like the EPA from taking on the role of legislators.
(13:34) Meghan notes Midwesterners’ perspectives on limited government, consumer protection and environmental protection and asks General Bird about how she’s tried to share with the attorney general community what it means to be an Iowan.
(14:34) AG Bird explains that when she files lawsuits, it’s not just the lawsuit, it’s the people that are hurt by government overreach that she is thinking about. For that reason, she wants to do a good job of explaining that and the impact on their personal, business and community choices. That’s a big part of why she travels around the state every year, to meet with and educate people about the role of AG.
(15:45) Meghan concurs, and goes on to ask about areas where the AG has found she can collaborate with AGs of other political persuasions.
(16:53) AG Bird replies that she always finds ways to work together across the aisle, especially when it comes to protecting crime victims, protecting consumers – those are nonpartisan issues.
(18:10) AG Bird bemoans the loss of the Democratic caucus to Iowa and the country.
(19:06) Jerry notes Iowa’s great history in that regard and expresses a wish that the Democrats may come back to Iowa in ’28, or even in ’24.
(19:24) Meghan asks about how General Bird balances the challenges of a young family with a very demanding career.
(19:57) AG Bird praises her husband for helping share the parenting load. She sometimes takes her son into the office, which he enjoys. He also loves to campaign and especially loves the bus time, parades and town festivals.
(22:28) Jerry notes that AG Bird’s husband not only works in the Senate, but is also a veteran, and asks about programs Iowa has in place to assist veterans.
(22:48) AG Bird confirms that protecting veterans from being ripped off is a key priority. She also makes a point of hiring veterans because of their public service orientation.
(25:29) In closing, Meghan asks General Bird what advice she has for the business community in Iowa to help them better get to know her or help her get to know their businesses.
(25:50) General Bird responds that anybody who has a potential issue with her office or a question should feel free to reach out in order to come to a commonsense solution.
To listen to the full podcast, click here [https://www.stateagreport.com/podcast/iowa-taking-a-commonsense-approach/]. To listen to a particular section, open the recording and use the time stamps provided above to navigate to the desired part.