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Iowa Senate, House approve gas tax increase

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 24, 2015 at 16:48:31 PM CST

A bill that would raise Iowa's gasoline tax by 10 cents a gallon is on its way to Governor Terry Branstad's desk after approval today by both chambers in the Iowa legislature. The Iowa Senate passed Senate File 257 this morning by 28 votes to 21. Sixteen Democrats and twelve Republicans voted for the bill, while ten Democrats and eleven Republicans opposed it. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal had reportedly insisted on at least half the GOP caucus supporting a gas tax increase as a condition for bringing the bill to the floor.

A few hours later, the Iowa House took up the Senate bill (rather than the bill that cleared two House committees last week). Thirty Republicans and 23 Democrats voted yes, while 26 Republicans and 20 Democrats voted no.

Only two state legislators missed today's votes: Republican State Senator Mark Chelgren and Republican State Representative Chip Baltimore. Baltimore voted against the House version of this bill in committee last week, while Chelgren doesn't serve on the committees that approved the bill in the Senate. Chelgren appears to have been absent for all of today's votes, while Baltimore was at the Capitol but left the chamber when the gas tax bill came up. Speaking to reporters later, he tried to make a virtue out of his absence: "I refuse to legitimize either the bill or the process with a vote." Weak sauce from a guy who is widely expected to seek higher office someday.

Conservative groups are urging Branstad to veto Senate File 257, but that seems unlikely, given the governor's recent comments on road funding. Branstad's spokesman said today that the governor will carefully review the final bill before deciding whether to sign it.  

After the jump I've enclosed the roll call votes in both chambers, as well as Senate Transportation Committee Chair Tod Bowman's opening remarks this morning, which summarize key points in Senate File 257.

Final note: several of the "no" votes came from lawmakers who may face competitive re-election campaigns in 2016. Those include Democrats Chris Brase (Senate district 46), Steve Sodders (Senate district 36), and Mary Jo Wilhelm (Senate district 26), and Republicans Dennis Guth (Senate district 4) and Amy Sinclair (Senate district 14).

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 1047 words in story)

Vander Plaats group on radio in two races, conspicuously absent in one

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 16:15:00 PM CDT

Three-time candidate for Iowa governor Bob Vander Plaats has made news this fall primarily on the "No Wiggins" campaign trail. However, the social conservative group he runs is supporting some Republican Iowa Senate candidates as well.

Last week the FAMiLY Leader launched radio advertising campaigns in two competitive Senate races--but notably, not in the district where Vander Plaats' longtime right-hand man Matt Reisetter is running.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1023 words in story)

Iowa primary election results thread

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 21:18:02 PM CDT

Polls closed across Iowa at 9 pm, and I will update this post periodically as results come in from around the states. Any comments related to today's elections are welcome in this thread.

P.S.- As expected, Wisconsin Democrats fell short in their effort to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker.

UPDATE: Results are after the jump.  

There's More... :: (42 Comments, 1483 words in story)

Weekend open thread: Candidate filing deadline edition

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 20:26:59 PM CDT

I'm posting the weekend thread early, because the filing period for primary election candidates in Iowa closed this afternoon. The Secretary of State's Office posted the full list of candidates here (pdf). John Deeth has been covering the filing on a daily basis all month at his blog. Some highlights from races I'm watching are after the jump.

This is an open thread; all topics welcome.

UPDATE: Gotta agree with Senator Chuck Grassley: the History Channel is useless.

There's More... :: (9 Comments, 1726 words in story)

Iowa Senate district 14 preview: Amy Sinclair vs Dick Schrad

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jan 11, 2012 at 08:03:22 AM CST

Republican Amy Sinclair and Democrat Dick Schrad have launched campaigns in the new Iowa Senate district 14, an open seat in south-central Iowa. Former Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley lives in this district but decided not to seek a fourth term.

Follow me after the jump for a district map and background on the two declared candidates.

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 1223 words in story)

Iowa House Democrats backing Suhr in House district 28

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 19:22:40 PM CST

According to an Iowa House Democrats press release, Megan Day Suhr "announced today" that she is running for Iowa House district 28.  
There's More... :: (1 Comments, 535 words in story)

Iowa Workforce Development offices as a 2012 campaign issue

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 29, 2011 at 09:00:49 AM CST

The state agency Iowa Workforce Development has replaced 36 field offices with hundreds of new "enhanced access" computer terminals this year.

Although the shuttered offices are unlikely ever to reopen, they may live on as talking points in many competitive Iowa House and Senate races next fall.

There's More... :: (6 Comments, 4433 words in story)

McKinley resigning as Iowa Senate Republican leader, won't run in 2012

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 08:02:08 AM CDT

Iowa Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley announced yesterday that he will not seek re-election in 2012 and will step down as leader of his party's caucus when Senate Republicans meet in Des Moines on November 10. After the jump I've posted background on the drive to oust McKinley and thoughts about which Senate Republican will take his place next week.

McKinley's retirement leaves Republicans without an obvious candidate in the new Senate district 14, which should be competitive in 2012. A map of this swing district is also below.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1026 words in story)
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