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Hundreds of Iowans Rally at Capitol on Same-Sex Marriage - Page 3 PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 10 April 2009 14:08

DHS Director's Confirmation in Trouble

The confirmation of Iowa Department of Human Services Director Gene Gessow is in trouble, and changing DHS directors now will hurt Iowans in need, said Senator Jack Hatch (D-Des Moines) on the Iowa Senate floor this week.

"This is no time to leave the largest department of 5,700 employees and a $4.6-billion budget without a leader," said Hatch, who's chair of the joint health and human-services budget subcommittee. "If Mr. Gessow is not confirmed, we will have an agency without its brains, without its passion, and without a direction."

Hatch said DHS is about to take a major budget cut that he said will cause child-abuse services to suffer, foster care to be in trouble, domestic abuse to increase, and mental-health waiting lists to grow. He said an estimated 185 potential abuse victims will remain at risk each month, and 1,158 children will not get the services they need each month.

"Why would we change directors when the budget is about to be cut by $120 million in the next fiscal year?" Hatch asked. "Why would we change directors when we are being forced to cut 350 to 500 jobs, the largest reduction of employees in one department in our state's history? Why would we change directors when 800,000 Iowans in each and every one of our districts depend on this department, and that number is growing?"

Confirmation of Culver's appointees requires two-thirds of the Iowa Senate, so Gessow needs at least two Republicans to vote with majority Democrats to receive confirmation. Opponents to the confirmation have declined to outline publicly their concerns, and even Gessow himself said he was in the dark about the reasons he may not get confirmed by next Wednesday.

Rants More Likely to Run for Governor Now

Rants said recent developments regarding the state budget, same-sex marriages, and federal deductibility have made him think more about running for governor against Culver.

"I think this state is crying out for leadership," said Rants, a former House speaker. "If the governor continues to make mistake after mistake after mistake, I think a lot of people will step forward and volunteer their services."

When asked when he would make a formal decision about running against Culver, Rants said, "Let's see how he does this week."

U.S. Representative Steve King of Kiron said this week that he, too, is more likely to run for governor following the Iowa Supreme Court's decision legalizing same-sex marriages.

Actions Finalized Against Bars That Violated Smoking Ban

The state has revoked the liquor license of Otis Campbell's Bar & Grill in West Burlington and has suspended for 30 days the liquor license of Fro's in Wilton for violations of the state's smoking ban. The state decision leaves room for the liquor license to be restored if Otis Campbell's agrees to the follow the law.

The decisions came in orders from Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division Administrator Lynn Walding, who was asked to review decisions made earlier this year by an administrative law judge.

"The huge majority of Iowa businesses are obeying the law, and we will not allow a small, vocal minority to flout the law," said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. "There is no doubt in my mind that the Iowa Smokefree Air Act is working, and it is saving Iowans' lives."

"This is a great day for restaurant and bar owners in our community who are playing the rules," said Senator Tom Courtney (D-Burlington). "This law protects the health of employees who don't have a choice when they are forced to work in smoke-filled rooms."

This weekly summary comes from IowaPolitics.com, an online government and politics news service. IowaPolitics.com staff contributed to this report.

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