Mississippi River Floods -- The Branstad Connection

(State Senator Rob Hogg has been calling for more investment in watershed projects.   - promoted by desmoinesdem)

With floodwaters along the Mississippi River in the southern U.S reaching historic levels it’s time for Iowa to take a leadership role in helping prevent future flooding by investing in watershed improvement programs and conservation in Iowa.

Many people might not know what a watershed is. A watershed is basically a basin defined by highpoints and ridges that descend into lower elevations and stream valleys. A watershed carries water from the land after rain falls and snow melts. Drop by drop, water is channeled into soils, groundwaters, creeks, and streams, making its way to larger rivers and eventually the sea.

According to the EPA:

A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place. John Wesley Powell, scientist geographer, put it best when he said that a watershed is:

“that area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community.”

Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. They cross county, state, and national boundaries. In the continental US, there are 2,110 watersheds; including Hawaii Alaska, and Puerto Rico, there are 2,267 watersheds.

This is the connection between watershed and land management practices in Iowa and recent flooding on the Mississippi River. …more after the jump…

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Next phase begins in battle over Iowa spending cuts

The Iowa House approved a major "deappropriations" bill, House File 45, on January 19 by a party-line vote of 60 to 40. Republican leaders fast-tracked what they call the Taxpayers First Act, which passed the House Appropriations Committee on the third day of the 2011 session. The bill would cut dozens of programs while increasing spending in a few areas. In addition, $327.4 million from this year’s surplus revenue would go into a new "Tax Relief Fund," instead of being used to help close the projected budget gap for fiscal year 2012. This bill summary (pdf) lists the budget cuts and supplemental appropriations in House File 45. Click here for the full bill text.

Although the majority of speakers at a January 18 public hearing opposed the bill, and organizations lobbying against the bill outnumber those that have signed on in support, the House Republicans passed the bill with few significant changes. Democrats offered many amendments as floor debate went late into the evening on January 19, trying to save funds for the statewide voluntary preschool program, passenger rail, smoking cessation programs, and sustainable communities, among other things. Representatives rejected almost all those amendments on party-line votes. This page shows what amendments were filed, and the House Journal for January 19 contains the roll call votes.

House File 45 now moves to the Iowa Senate, which has a 26-24 Democratic majority. Democratic senators are likely to back increased expenditures for mental health services and indigent defense while opposing many of the spending cuts. After the jump I take a closer look at some of the most controversial provisions in House File 45.

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Events coming up this week

It’s another busy week, so I’ve put the event details after the jump. Please post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of an event I’ve left out.

Also please let me know of any Iowa organizations that post good event calendars on a regular basis. For instance, I hear about lots of things going around the state via the Sierra Club’s Iowa Topics e-mail loop and the websites of the Iowa Environmental Council and 1000 Friends of Iowa. Probably other groups I’m less involved with also post useful notices about upcoming events.

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Events coming up the next two weeks

There’s a lot going on the next two weeks, so I put all the details after the jump.

Please post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of an event I’ve left out.

I noticed on the Iowa Environmental Council’s newsletter that they are looking for a new program director:

The Iowa Environmental Council is in the process of establishing an air quality program area. The Council is seeking an individual to conduct research, engage in coalition building and public education and advise the Council on policy opportunities available to protect Iowa’s air quality. For job requirements, description, salary information and how to apply, go to: www.iaenvironment.org, and click on “job opening” on the gold sidebar. Please share this information with others.

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