Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 1)

I expected 2009 to be a relatively quiet year in Iowa politics, but was I ever wrong.

The governor’s race heated up, state revenues melted down, key bills lived and died during the legislative session, and the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Varnum v Brien became one of this state’s major events of the decade.

After the jump I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from January through June 2009. Any comments about the year that passed are welcome in this thread.

Although I wrote a lot of posts last year, there were many important stories I didn’t manage to cover. I recommend reading Iowa Independent’s compilation of “Iowa’s most overlooked and under reported stories of 2009,” as well as that blog’s review of “stories that will continue to impact Iowa in 2010.”

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Culver appoints Elderkin to Power Fund, La Seur to Environmental Protection Commission

I love it! Governor Chet Culver announced four appointments today: Shearon Elderkin for the Iowa Power Fund board; Carrie La Seur for the Environmental Protection Commission; John Mathes as the Interim Commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home; and Tomas Rodriguez as Iowa’s State Public Defender. A press release containing some biographical information about the nominees is after the jump.

Earlier this month Iowa Senate Republicans blocked Elderkin’s appointment to the EPC and La Seur’s appointment to the Power Fund board, despite both women’s strong qualifications. I appreciate the governor’s commitment to giving these women the chance to continue their volunteer public service.

Republicans also rejected Gene Gessow, Culver’s nominee to head the state Department of Health and Human Services. It will be interesting to see where Gessow lands.

UPDATE: Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement issued a press release on April 30 welcoming the appointments of Elderkin and La Seur. Excerpt:

“We are pleased Gov. Culver is appointing these two individuals who are dedicated to working towards a cleaner environment in Iowa,” said CCI board president Barb Kalbach, “We have full confidence that they have the capacity and leadership to stand up for policies that protect our air and water and serve the common good.”

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Events coming up during the next two weeks

I still don’t have many details about President Barack Obama’s upcoming appearance in Newton on Earth Day (April 22). He plans to speak about energy, and presumably his focus will be on renewable energy and the potential for “green jobs” to boost the economy. Two manufacturers in the wind energy industry have located in Newton since the former Maytag plant shut down.

I will post more details about the president’s visit when they become available. Meanwhile, click “there’s more” to read what else is going on around the state for the next couple of weeks.

As always, post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of something important I’ve left out.

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Why did Iowa Senate Republicans reject three Culver appointees?

The Republican caucus in the Iowa Senate is the smallest it’s ever been in this state’s history, but they let us know this week that they are not entirely irrelevant. On Tuesday all 18 Republican senators blocked Governor Chet Culver’s appointment of Shearon Elderkin to the Environmental Protection Commission. The 32 Senate Democrats supported Elderkin, but nominees need a two-thirds majority (34 votes) to be confirmed.

The following day, Senate Republicans unanimously blocked Gene Gessow’s appointment as head of the Department of Human Services. Also on April 15, two Senate Democrats joined with the whole Republican caucus to reject a second term for Carrie La Seur on the Iowa Power Fund board.

Senate Republican leader Paul McKinley released statements explaining each of these votes, but I doubt those statements tell the whole story, and I’ll tell you why after the jump.

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Obama returning to Iowa and other events coming up during the next two weeks

President Barack Obama will speak about energy in Newton on Earth Day (April 22), a White House official told the Des Moines Register today. Two manufacturers in the wind energy industry have located in Newton since the former Maytag plant shut down.

Click “there’s more” for information about other events during the second half of April.

As always, post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know of something important I’ve left out.

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