No time like today to contact your state legislators

The 2009 legislative session is ending soon, and if you haven’t contacted your state representative or senator yet, quit procrastinating. I don’t think legislators diligently read every e-mail when the session gets busy, so I recommend calling them.

Iowa Senate switchboard: 515-281-3371

Iowa House Switchboard: 515-281-3221

I encourage you to tell your state representative and state senator that you support the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision in Varnum v Brien and want them to respect that ruling.

Although I haven’t had time to finish writing a post here about the tax reforms being proposed this year, I support most of what’s in the package, including ending federal deductibility. Right-wing groups are urging Iowans to call their legislators about this issue, so if you support the Democratic tax reform plan, please say so. This article describes the proposed changes to Iowa’s tax code, which Democratic legislative leaders and Governor Culver have agreed on.

Please also mention to members of the Iowa House that you want them to reject SF 432 (here’s why) or remove the Liquid Manure division in SF 432.

If you are speaking with a state senator, especially a Republican senator, please also mention that you want Shearon Elderkin to be confirmed as a member of the Environmental Protection Commission. Culver appointed her to that body last year, and she has been a good vote for the environment.

I happen to know Shearon (pronounced like “Sharon”), because we used to serve on the same non-profit organization’s board of directors. She reads widely on public policy and asks tough questions. She also is a good listener and does not view issues through the prism of partisan politics. Even after serving with her for more than a year, some of our board members did not know whether she was a Republican, Democrat or independent. (For the record, she’s a moderate Republican.)

Feel free to mention any other pending bills or tips for contacting legislators in this thread.

UPDATE: Senator Jack Hatch, who chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, says Gene Gessow’s confirmation as director of the Department of Human Services “is in trouble.” I posted Hatch’s speech calling for Gessow to be confirmed after the jump. If your state senator is a Republican, you may want to bring this up as well.

SECOND UPDATE: 1000 Friends of Iowa sent out an action alert regarding Elderkin’s nomination. I’ve posted that after the jump.

Shearon Elderkin Nomination Vote Deferred

Dear Friends,

1000 Friends of Iowa supports the confirmation of Shearon Elderkin to the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission. Her nomination vote was deferred which indicates there may not be enough votes for confirmation.

Please call your senator today in support of Shearon’s appointment to the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission! Shearon has an extensive background of protecting natural resources. Her understanding of policy, ability to ask tough questions and make informed decisions, extensive work researching and championing environmental issues and her leadership with the Linn County Conservation Board makes her a valuable resource for Iowa’s EPC.

Visit… to find your senator’s contact information. Your Senator needs to hear from you by email or a phone call today!

For Immediate Release:  April 8, 2008

Changing DHS Director now

will hurt Iowans in need

Statement on the Senate Floor by Senator Jack Hatch

Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee

I want to talk with you today about the confirmation of Gene Gessow as director of the DHS.

His confirmation is in trouble.   This is very, very bad news for Iowans, especially for Iowans in need of help.  Suddenly changing leadership of the state’s largest department would be a terrible mistake.  Here’s why. First, Iowans need our social safety net now more than ever.

The national recession is hammering our state.  Iowans are losing their jobs, losing their homes, losing their health insurance, losing their retirement funds.

Iowans need help.  And the Iowa Department of Human Services must be there to help them.  It won’t be easy.  We face the largest financial challenges in our state since the Great Depression. The federal government, our partner, is also struggling to keep up with demand. Why would we change directors when the budget is about to be cut by $120 million in the next fiscal year?

Why would we change directors when we are being forced to cut 350-500 jobs, the largest reduction of employees in one department in our state’s history? Why would we change directors when 800,000 Iowans in each and every one of our districts depend on this department, and that number is growing?

Why would we change directors when we know we will already be struggling to do right by Iowans in need? Here are some of the changes we know we will see when we pass this year’s tough budget:

*      child abuse services will suffer

*      foster care will be in trouble

*      domestic abuse will increase

*      mental health waiting lists will grow

*      each month an estimated 185 potential abuse victims will remain at risk

*      each month, 1,158 children will not get the services they need

This is NO time to leave the largest department of 5700 employees and a $4.6 billion budget without a LEADER.  If Mr. Gessow is not confirmed, we will have an agency without its brains, without its passion, and without a direction.

In short, you’ve got to have a very, very good reason to vote to change directors at a time when we need to manage lost dollars, lost jobs and lost services to an increasing number of Iowans in need.

The Gessow appointment is not the right place to take a shot at the governor or to play political games.  Why would anyone considering voting to make the job of caring for Iowans MORE DIFFICULT by voting against Director Gessow?

If that’s your position, you owe it to the people of Iowa to make your reasons publicly known. If you’ve got a good reason to vote against him, we need to hear it and the people of Iowa need to hear it.

Thank you Mr. President.

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