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Iowa Politics Roundup: Branstad Makes Supreme Court Picks PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Saturday, 26 February 2011 21:17

Iowa will join Idaho and Indiana as the only states whose high courts have only men, following Governor Terry Branstad’s February 23 appointment of Pleasant Valley attorney Thomas Waterman, Iowa Court of Appeals Judge Edward Mansfield, and Iowa District Court Judge Bruce Zager to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Branstad said the 51-year-old Waterman, an attorney in the Quad Cities law firm Lane & Waterman, brings private-sector experience to the Supreme Court. He said 58-year-old Zager, of Waterloo, brings both private-practice experience and district-court knowledge to the Supreme Court. And he said 53-year-old Mansfield, of Des Moines, brings both private-practice experience and court-of-appeals knowledge to the Supreme Court.

Iowa Politics Roundup: Senate Trims House’s Budget-Cutting Package PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 18 February 2011 14:35

In a debate that spanned eight hours, the Iowa Senate voted 48-1 late Thursday afternoon for House File 45, a bill that once made $500 million in budget cuts over three years and would now make a $6-million cut in the current fiscal year.

The near-unanimous vote came only after a party-line 26-23 vote for the Democratic strike-after amendment that pared back the House bill. Senator Jeff Danielson (D-Cedar Falls) said the end result is a bill that increases efficiency; increases transparency by creating a searchable budget database with both tax-expenditure and -comparison information; and deappropriates $6 million this fiscal year.

But Senator Roby Smith (R-Davenport) compared a box of tissues to a tack of 10 office boxes on his desk to illustrate the $6 million of savings in this bill compared to the $500 million in savings over three years in the version approved by the Iowa House. “I just don’t understand how we can justify such little savings,” he said.

Iowa Politics Roundup: “Religious Conscience Bill” Looks Unlikely to Move Forward PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 11 February 2011 13:59

The sponsor of a bill that contains the Religious Conscience Protection Act, which opponents have dubbed the “Marriage Discrimination Act,” says currently “there is no intent” to move the bill forward in the legislature this year.

More than 50 people packed the Iowa House lobbyist lounge this week, largely opposing the proposed legislation. Rabbis and key players on the issue from the Iowa Catholic Conference, One Iowa, and The Family Leader were all there.

“The substance of the bill is important to some Iowans,” said Representative Richard Anderson (R-Clarinda). “There are issues with the bill. As I said, I have some issues with the bill. We don’t intend to move it forward at this time.”

House Study Bill 50 would have provided an exemption for religious corporations and others from any requirement to solemnize a marriage, treat a marriage as valid, or provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for purposes related to the solemnization or celebration of a marriage, if doing so would cause the entity to violate sincerely held religious beliefs.

Iowa Politics Roundup: Gay-Marriage Amendment Passes in Iowa House PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 04 February 2011 14:47

Several Democrats became emotional and at least two were moved to tears on the Iowa House floor as they argued against a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships, but the Iowa House went on to approve it on a 62-37 vote February 1 after a three-hour debate.

“This decision will spur hatred, and that hurts,” said Representative Phyllis Thede (D-Bettendorf), her voice filled with emotion. “All of you here in some form are initiating hatred; that is not your intention but you are initiating it. ... What you’re doing today, it only hurts you. It does nothing for anyone else.”

Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell (D-Ames) urged the House not to label same-sex couples as second-class citizens. She said that House Joint Resolution 6 is extreme, and that only two states have approved amendments as restrictive. She argued that marriage is a basic civil right. And she said that gay and lesbian couples have been some of Iowa’s best foster parents.

Iowa Politics Roundup: Branstad Budget Makes $360 Million in Cuts, Increases Casino Tax PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 28 January 2011 13:56

Governor Terry Branstad emphasized fiscal responsibility in his budget address Thursday to a joint session of the Iowa legislature, proposing a budget for the next two fiscal years that makes $360 million in total budget cuts, reduces the corporate income tax and commercial property taxes, and increases the tax on state casinos.

“The rebounding agricultural economy gives us a unique opportunity to bind up Iowa’s budget wounds quickly,” Branstad said. “We must not squander that opportunity. It will not be easy. It will require difficult and painful choices. But the pain we endure by fixing our budget today will lead to great opportunities for Iowa in the future.”

Branstad’s proposed budget would spend nearly $6.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2012 and nearly $6.3 billion in Fiscal Year 2013. It includes $194 million in reductions throughout the state budget in the general fund, would save $89 million by not providing extra money to pay for state-worker salary increases, and would save $75 million by not continuing some programs currently funded with one-time sources.

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