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Iowa Politics Roundup: Gaming Commission Won’t Push for Second Polk County Casino PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 28 August 2009 14:18

The Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission will not promote a new casino in Polk County - or anywhere else - but will move forward with plans to hear proposals from five other counties whose voters have approved new gaming facilities, commission members said Thursday.

"We owe it to those five counties to give them the best shot and the best look and that's how we will proceed," said Commission Chair Greg Seyfer at a meeting at the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort.

Commissioner Kate Cutler added that it's not the board's role to encourage communities to apply for new gaming licenses. "We're not going to promote additional applications," she said. "That issue should be put to rest."

Iowa Politics Roundup: Vilsack Advocates Cap-and-Trade at Fair PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 21 August 2009 13:38

Tom VilsackU.S. Agriculture Secretary and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack advocated "cap and trade" legislation during a town-hall meeting at the Iowa State Fair, despite a hog farmer's plea that it would increase the cost of electricity and hurt small farmers.

"There is no question as I travel around the country ... [that] they are currently seeing the impact of climate change," Vilsack said. "There is an expectation of American leadership on this issue. The concern I have is that if we fail to lead on this issue ... it will impact not just the cap-and-trade conversation; it will impact our capacity to convince countries to do things in other areas."

Mike Ver Steeg from Inwood raised the issue with Vilsack during the hour-long meeting attended by about 200 farmers, union members, and elected officials.

"We need to not pass the cap-and-trade bill because I spend about $2,400 a month on electricity right now," Ver Steeg said. "If that goes through and I have to spend 30 to 50 percent more, I don't have profit right now. That's going to hurt small farmers like me."

Vilsack acknowledged that energy costs may go up but argued that in the short term, there would be offsets with cropping, fertilizer, methane, and nitrous-oxide reductions that would negate the increases.

Iowa Politics Roundup: Overflow Crowds Pack Town-Hall Meetings PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 14 August 2009 13:49

Senator Chuck GrassleyU.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) heard an earful in four town-hall meetings held this week across the central part of the state, with a majority of the large crowds telling him to put the brakes on Democratic plans for health-care reform.

At congressional town-hall gatherings across the country, opponents of the Democrats' health-care-reform proposals have been loud, angry, and in some cases involved in physical altercations with those who are supportive of President Barack Obama and Democrats. U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) experienced some of that shouting and booing during his meetings in Des Moines and eastern Iowa.

The largely conservative and Republican audience that attended Grassley's town-hall meetings in Adel, Afton, Panora, and Winterset were forceful in their condemnation of Obama and in some cases said they would vote against Grassley in 2010 if he does not stop his efforts to fashion a bipartisan health-care compromise. They occasionally mocked the few dissenting Democratic and liberal attendees who implored Grassley to embrace a government-run insurance option as a part of health-care reform.

But for the most part, the events were civil and respectful - and full. The meetings in Adel and Winterset were moved out of the public library and into a park after it became clear the large crowds would overwhelm those venues. (About 300 showed up for a morning event in Winterset; nearly 1,000 braved the heat in Adel.) The meetings in Afton and Panora were indoors and featured standing-room-only crowds of around 300 and almost 500, respectively.

"I don't want a government-run plan," Grassley said in Afton to enthusiastic applause, using a line he repeated throughout the day, each time to loud cheers.

Iowa Politics Roundup: Dealers Sell 2,300 Cars with “Cash for Clunkers” PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 07 August 2009 14:53

Iowa car dealers have in less than two weeks sold at least 2,300 vehicles under the popular "Cash for Clunkers" program, but more than half of those dealers were making sales conditional as they waited to get reimbursed about $9.7 million from the federal government and to see whether the Congress would authorize $2 billion more for the program.

The Senate voted 60-37 on Thursday night to approve the additional money, and President Barack Obama signed the legislation on Friday. The bill cleared the U.S. House last week.

"I'm not complaining," said John McEleney, a Clinton, Iowa, auto dealer who's chair of the National Automobile Dealers Association. "I'm very pleased; dealers in general are very pleased we have this program. It gives us some confidence that business is turning around. There's pent-up demand, and people are willing to buy cars. We would have preferred much less bureaucracy, but we understand it's a government program."

Iowa Politics Roundup: Lawmaker Mentions Governor in Drunk-Driving-Arrest Video PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 31 July 2009 14:03

Representative Kerry BurtWhen he was arrested early February 11, State Representative Kerry Burt (D-Waterloo) brought up his position as a state representative and firefighter, and that he had been drinking at a reception attended by Governor Chet Culver, according to a police report and video released this week. Burt faces a charge of Operating While Intoxicated.

According to the report, Burt tried to tell the officer that he couldn't be arrested. "I better show you this. ... I'm a representative," Burt said. "I'm also a firefighter. Is there professional courtesy?"

The report revealed that Burt's preliminary breath test showed his blood-alcohol level at 0.131, above the state's legal limit of 0.08. When the officer asked Burt how much he had to drink, he replied that whom he was drinking with was more important than how much he had to drink. He then said in a soft voice, "The governor."

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