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Archive for April 16, 2011

Iowa State Capitol News – Weekend Recap

Iowa
State Capitol News – Weekend Recap


Iowa
State Capitol News – Weekend Recap

by Paul Deaton

[Editors'
Note:
Following is a weekly recap of stories from Des Moines that
came through the Weekend Editor's in-box. Two weeks to go in the
legislative session before per diem ends on April 29. 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
session.]

Endgame in Sight?

It boils down to the budget, and the competing messages are some variation of this:

Democrats: Ultimately, fiscal responsibility is the key to good governing. Our state’s reserve funds are full at $600 million, and we’ll add another $300 million by the end of the fiscal year, according to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Service. It’s clear we can afford to invest in education and jobs without raising taxes.

Republicans: 0% Allowable Growth for FY12 means adding $215 million to the budget. This is new money going to schools. This is a backfill of $156 million underfunded by last year’s legislature, plus $52 million in one-time funds ($47.9 federal stimulus and $5.1 UST transfer), plus an additional $7 million that comes about automatically through the formula. I am determined to advance (fill in blank with favorite right wing cause that won't happen this session) while I serve as your Representative.

Okay, we have come to understand the competing messages over the session. Is anyone going to do something that matters to Iowans? Don't think some of them are listening.

Except for Fukushima, All Quiet on the Nuclear Front

When the Iowa House and Senate adjourned for the week on Thursday morning, they failed to do what many expected, which is debate the nuclear power bills, HF 561/SF 390. A pair of lobbyists caught up with a legislator in the halls of the capitol and asked (in a lobbyist tone of voice), “what up?” The legislator indicated they were working on some amendments regarding cost recovery and nuclear safety in response to public feedback.

Out in the non-lobbyist world, where most Iowans live, the author sought out a baby boomer and an octogenarian, both MidAmerican Energy customers, to see what they thought about new nuclear power in Iowa. The baby boomer, not fully understanding, said we have a nuclear plant, referring to Exelon Corporation's Quad Cities Generating Station in Cordova, Illinois. “I am proud of the fact that each year I find ways to reduce my electrical bill.” When I pointed out that she could see a $12-$21 monthly surcharge to pay for a new nuclear reactor that may never be built, she hadn't heard and was outraged. The octogenarian had recently taken out a $4,000 loan to replace the furnace in her house and was not sure how she would pay off that loan on her retirement income. I didn't have the heart to mention that MidAmerican sought to take out another substantial loan on her behalf over a 40 year term to pay for a new nuclear reactor. It is clear that folk in Des Moines are living in a bubble regarding these bills.

Representative Beth Wessel Kroeschell (D-45) wrote up a good explanation of the House version here. She wrote, “The reason for the legislation was that despite aggressive construction of wind turbines and retrofitting of plants to reduce emissions, it was determined that it is unlikely that Iowa utilities will be able to meet carbon reduction proposals being considered by the federal government without relying on nuclear energy to some extent.”

Pull out your favorite photo of US House Speaker John Boehner and ask yourself, “do you see a cap and trade bill coming in the 112th Congress?”

Attention: all you elected officials and lobbyists in the bubble: why the hurry to rush through the bill? Maybe you should ask some MidAmerican customers (hint: likely voters) what they think since they would be paying the bill for new nuclear reactors in Iowa.

Governor Branstad was Signing

Signing more than two dozen bills into law this week, Governor Branstad stayed busy with the roles of governance. On Monday Branstad released his plan for mental health reform, an issue that has bipartisan support. One of his goals is to “secure a reasonable balance between access, affordability, quality, and appropriateness.” Sounds reasonable. Waiting to see how this gets politicized, although we hope it does not as mental health reform is sorely needed in Iowa.

First Redistricting Map Sent to the Governor

Okay, people… keep moving, there's no story here. Cautionary note to Jeff Kaufmann (R-79) who voted against the bill: Blog for Iowa will be expanding our presence in your new district as Governor Branstad said he would sign the plan into law on Tuesday, April 19.

~Paul
Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend
editor of Blog for Iowa. E-mail
Paul Deaton

Iowa Marks Record Store Day

Iowa Marks Record Store Day


by Paul Deaton

Saturday, April 16, 2011 is Record Store Day, which means 24 hours of retro for baby boomers and fans. It is also a small way to thumb our noses at Wal-Mart, Target and the big box stores that ran most independent record stores out of business. To find a participating record store in Iowa, click here.

The original idea for Record Store Day was conceived by Chris Brown, and was founded in 2007 by Eric Levin, Michael Kurtz, Carrie Colliton, Amy Dorfman, Don Van Cleave and Brian Poehner as a celebration of the unique culture surrounding over 700 independently owned record stores in the USA, and hundreds of similar stores internationally.

This is the one day that all of the independently owned record stores come together with artists to celebrate the art of music. Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day and hundreds of artists in the United States and in various countries across the globe make special appearances and performances. Festivities include performances, cook-outs, body painting, meet & greets with artists, parades, djs spinning records and on and on. Metallica officially kicked off Record Store Day at Rasputin Music in San Francisco on April 19, 2008 and Record Store Day is now celebrated the third Saturday every April.

While this is a most commercial of commercial enterprises, most bands and singer song writers were in it for the money, and even Dylan has a vinyl release of Bob Dylan In Concert: Brandeis University 1963 this week.

~Paul
Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend
editor of Blog for Iowa. E-mail
Paul Deaton