State Capitol News – Weekend Recap
State Capitol News – Weekend Recap
by Paul Deaton
Note: Following is a weekly recap of stories from Des Moines that
came through the Weekend Editor's in-box in the sixth week of the
legislative session. Check out the House Democrats page for a
different take on the week here.
Senate Democrats are here.
Watch for this feature every Saturday while the legislature is in
Tobacco Lobby Hard at Work
When asked what is the difference between the tobacco companies and other multinational corporations on Wednesday, Dr. Christopher Squier, an oral pathologist at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry, answered that there is no difference, except that their product and methods are immoral. Squier, an outspoken advocate for tobacco use cessation, indicated that members of the current House Majority accepted $450,000 in contributions from tobacco interests during the 2010 midterm elections. First you are hearing about it? The money was laundered through third party organizations as the tobacco interests prefer to hide in the shadows. While their money and influence can be expected this session, their physical presence will likely not be found on the capitol grounds. In the target zone this session are programs that benefit Iowans like Just Eliminate Lies (JEL) and Quitline Iowa. In the meanwhile, partly through the efforts of Squier and the coalition he helped build, the percentage of smokers in the state has dropped from 18% to 14% during the last 6 years.
Governor Branstad Announces Preschool Plan, Dems Counter
On Valentine's Day, Governor. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds joined Education Director Jason Glass to unveil their preschool proposal. House Democrats were prompt to point out that the governor's plan reduces preschool quality, eliminating a requirement that preschool be taught by a certified teacher. Branstad's voucher plan will also serve to restrict access to preschool and end existing partnerships with private, local preschool providers in some communities. House Democrats made an alternative proposal and were voted down in a straight party line vote.
HF 153 to Legislate Culture of Life Percolates in Subcommittee
During his appearance on Iowa Press last week, House Speaker Kraig Paulsen responded to a question from Radio Iowa's Kay Henderson, “…you have some key legislators who are among your fellow House republicans who…want to ban all abortions. How are you being the moderator of this internal discussion?” Paulsen said, “Right now we're letting it percolate.” What percolated up on YouTube was a video of a subcommittee meeting on HF 153 in which Representative Kim Pearson (R-42) and Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell (D-45) engaged in a colloquy over the purpose of the bill. Said Pearson, “The purpose of the bill is to turn our culture away from that of death to life.” Representative Pearson has had this opportunity to assert her position that abortion is murder and according to the legislature web site, the bill remains in the Human Resources subcommittee where Representatives Heaton (R-91) and Pearson are expected to vote for and Wessel-Kroeschell against, referring HF 153 to the full committee. House Democrats are calling for a public hearing on the matter. Read Des Moines Register coverage of the subcommittee here.
Senate Debates HF 45 and Amends
In a debate that stretched out for most of Thursday's session, the Iowa Senate debated about 20 amendments to HF 45, The Taxpayers First Act, and passed the amended legislation 48-1. HF 45 was messaged to the House of Representatives where Speaker Paulsen will get another at-bat to see if he and his caucus are ready to focus on governing, something that has been missing in that body during the first 6 weeks of the session. For the legislative addicts, read more in the Senate Journal for Thursday here.
First Funnel March 4
The Senate and House have two weeks to advance bills out of committee for consideration by the bodies according to Joint Rule 20. For your information, April 29th is scheduled to be the last day legislators are paid per diem, and therefore likely to be the last day of the session. Governor Branstad has discussed calling a special session to work on education issues this summer.
Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend
editor of Blog for Iowa. E-mail