Iowa State Capitol News – Weekend Recap
Iowa State Capitol News – Weekend Recap
by Paul Deaton[Editors'
Note: With the transition in the Governor's office and legislature, a
lot of news is expected from the Iowa Capitol. Following is a weekly
recap of stories from Des Moines that came through the Weekend Editor's
in-box. If you hear of news from the capitol, email the weekend editor here. Watch for this feature every Saturday in 2011.]
Iowa Power Fund on the Chopping Block, or is it? Governor-elect
Terry Branstad made an about turn from what he said on the campaign
trail and now expects to keep the Iowa Power Fund started by the 2007
legislature and the Culver Administration. According to the Des Moines Register, Branstad “expects the fund to live on within a retooled economic development department.”
Perhaps this is because the Iowa Power Fund is actually an economic
engine for the state, as Carrie La Seur, original Power Fund board
member, points out. Perhaps it is because the Governor-elect did not understand the value being created during the campaign. The December 16 economic impact study
released by the Iowa Office of Energy Independence illustrates the
benefits of the Iowa Power fund and tells a positive story. Restructuring the Power Fund to report to the Office of Economic Development may, in the end, mean a slow and out of sight death by attrition.
Democrat Michael Mauro Appointed Iowa's Next Labor Commissioner
Governor-elect Terry Branstad named Democratic Secretary of State Michael Mauro as the state's labor commissioner beginning in May. Branstad announced Mauro's appointment on Thursday, calling Mauro a dedicated and effective public servant. He says he has been impressed with Mauro's administration of election laws and the way he ran the secretary of state's office. Other Branstad appointees this week: Mike Carroll to head Department of Administrative Services, Jason Glass as Director of the Iowa Department of Education, Debi Durham, previously announced Director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development will also head the Iowa Office of Energy Independence. Click here for the complete list of Branstad appointments.
Farm Bureau to Help Shape Iowa Ag Policy. The Des Moines Register ran a story about Iowa Farm Bureau's agricultural policy advocate Rick Robinson. According to the Register, “On behalf of the members of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, he pleads for patience, common sense and a strategy to curb pollution without what they see as costly regulations or progress-stalling lawsuits.” Among Blog for Iowa readers, the view of the Iowa Farm Bureau ranges from tolerance to open derision. Governor-elect Branstad's campaign speeches stand as evidence that people like Robinson helped shape Branstad's pro-business, anti regulation policy. During the 2011 legislative session, a key dynamic to watch will between Farm Bureau's “preserve the status quo” approach and the approach of environmentalists who believe that time is running out to preserve our environment.
Vander Plaats Raises $$$, Dvorsky Counters An Associated Press story reported that Bob Vander Plaats, head of the group Family Leader, seeks to raise $8,000 by January 1 to further pursuit of his cause to convince the remaining four Iowa supreme court justices who consented in Varnum vs. Brien to resign or face impeachment. While impeachment seems an unlikely waste of time for the Iowa House of Representatives, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Sue Dvorsky was quick to appeal for donations to combat the Vander Plaats effort, saying “You and I know that discrimination has no place in Iowa or any other state and we will fight to keep it that way.” Regrettably, according to the donation page where users are directed, Dvorsky's appeal is to support Democratic candidates and their campaigns. This seems reasonable, but represents a longer term goal than the Family Leader's action time line. Contrary to the current talking points, Vander Plaats' success in the midterm elections has more to do with his taking the lead in politicizing judicial retention in Iowa. This is something most Iowans do not support.
~Paul Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend editor of Blog for Iowa. E-mail Paul Deaton