Capitol Comments - Week 14 in the Iowa Senate Print
News Releases - Business, Economy & Finance
Written by Sen. Shawn Hamerlinck   
Friday, 15 April 2011 14:13

All bills must pass the House and Senate with the exact same language before it is sent to the governor.  Thus far, the House and Senate have passed separate versions on all budget bills except two.  The two which made it through to the Governor’s desk were vetoed.  Think of running bills through the Legislature like running the Bix 7; the House has reached the finish line but can’t cross until it joins hands with the Senate and receives permission from the Governor.  In a scenario like this, joining hands and gaining permission to take the last step may be more difficult than running the previous seven miles.

The main issue in the Senate is making sure enough runners stay on the track to find the finish line.  Over the last two years when the Senate was divided at 32-18 with Democrats in control, Majority Leader Gronstal could move forward even when some members deviated.  This year with the Senate Democrats having a 26-24 majority, any one member has the same power as the Majority Leader.  If one person walks on any issue, 25 votes does not make a majority.  Delays in the Senate are not due to partisan politics.  In fact, it is the exact opposite.  Senate Republicans are more than willing to help Senate Democrats end this session as soon as Senate Democrats finalize what bills they want to run.

One issue that no politician can shy away from is the budget.  Picture the General Fund as a bucket which only so much money can flow into.  When the bucket overflows, money falls into the Cash Reserve Fund and when that bucket overflows money ends in the Economic Emergency Fund.  The real debate between the House and Senate right now is over how many items can be stuffed into the General Fund and whether or not some items should be paid out of the Economic Emergency Fund and Cash Reserve Funds.  At the core of this debate is whether or not additional ongoing expenditures for items like education should be funded out of one-time money from accounts like the Economic Emergency Fund.  Here is a bigger question, if we do this, how do you pay for emergencies when the Mississippi and Wapsi flood?

Throw redistricting into this marathon we’re running and let’s hope some don’t just walk off the track.  The redistricting plan, which passed the Senate on Thursday, immediately put thirty-one Senators up for re-election.  Attitudes and personalities change when politicians are thrown into the same district and are facing a new campaign season.  This is becoming the opposite of the “not in my back yard effect.”  Nearly everyone has shopped at least one time at Wal-Mart, yet not very many people want Wal-Mart in their backyard.  In this scenario politicians are asking themselves, “What do I get in my back yard?”  At the end of the day, there will be districts and a representative form of government and politicians should stop worrying.

Thank you for letting me represent you at the Capitol.

Shawn Hamerlinck
State Senate District 42

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