Photo illustration.

The pendulum swung swiftly.

House File 291 was introduced in the Iowa legislature on February 9, was passed by the House and Senate on February 16, and was signed by Governor Terry Branstad the next day.

Despite that speed, this was not some emergency measure. Instead, it was part of a pent-up agenda being unleashed, as Republicans enjoyed – really enjoyed – their first unified control of the legislative and executive branches of state government since 1998.

Kirk DillardRepublicans, as a class, tend to pine for the good ol' days -- mainly, the eras when they were in power.

That's been especially true in Illinois as the Republicans, uniformly blown out of power by George Ryan's scandals and George W. Bush's leadership style, have tried repeatedly to use the good ol' days to convince voters that they should be returned to stewardship status. For instance, every chance they get they trot out former Governor Jim Edgar -- one of the few living historical Illinois figures who still represents moderation and good governance in many voters' minds.

But Jim Edgar wasn't even at last week's Republican Day event at the Illinois State Fair. I ran into him earlier in the week, after Wednesday's rain storm. He was walking alone through the fairgrounds, heading for his car. He had a horse in a race, but the race was canceled because of the storm so he was leaving.

Every two years, the Illinois Republican Party tears itself apart over a piece of legislation that supposedly would allow rank-and-file party members to have more say in party affairs This year may be worse than usual, however.

Senate Bill 600, sponsored by Senator Chris Lauzen (R-Aurora), would stop the practice of allowing Republican township, ward, and precinct committee members to elect the state central committee. The bill would instead force the GOP to adopt the same rules as the Democrats and allow primary voters to elect the state central committee.

Most people don't care about this, and I can understand if you're with them. But since this tiny little change has been one of the most divisive issues in the Illinois GOP's recent history, it's worth a closer look.