End of 2010 legislative session thread

The Iowa House and Senate adjourned for 2010 today, wrapping up the legislative session in just 79 days. In the coming weeks I will post about various bills that passed or failed to pass during the session. For now, you can read wrap-up posts at Iowa Independent, IowaPolitics.com, the Des Moines Register and Radio Iowa.

Democratic legislative leaders said the House and Senate “succeeded in responsibly balancing the budget without raising taxes while laying the groundwork for Iowa’s economic recovery.” Governor Chet Culver described the session as “a real victory for Iowans, particularly hardworking Iowa families.” He also hailed passage of an infrastructure bill including the final installment of the I-JOBS state bonding program. AFSCME Iowa Council 61 praised several bills that passed this year, such as the government reorganization bill, the early retirement program and a budget that saved many public employees’ jobs.

Republicans and their traditional interest-group allies saw things differently, of course. House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen, Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley and Iowans for Tax Relief all emphasized the use of one-time federal dollars to help cover state spending. Their talking points have made headway with Kathie Obradovich, but the reality is that much of the federal stimulus money was intended to backfill state budgets, and rightly so, because severe state spending cuts can deepen and prolong an economic recession.

Overall, I am not satisfied with the legislature’s work in 2010. Despite the massive costs of reconstruction after the 2008 floods, legislators lacked the political will to take any steps forward on floodplain management. Despite the film tax credit fiasco, not enough was done to rein in tax credits. Many other good ideas fell by the wayside for lack of time during the rushed session. (It strikes me as penny-wise and pound-foolish to save $800,000 by shortening the legislative calendar from 100 to 80 days.) Some other good proposals got bogged down in disagreements between the House and the Senate. Labor and environmental advocates once again saw no progress on their key legislative priorities, yet this Democratic-controlled legislature found the time to pass the top priority of the National Rifle Association. Pathetic.

On the plus side, the 2011 budget protected the right priorities, and most of the projects funded by the infrastructure spending bill, Senate File 2389, are worthwhile. Some good bills affecting public safety and veterans made it through. In addition, Democrats blocked a lot of bad Republican proposals. Credit must also go to the leaders who held their caucuses together against efforts to write discrimination into the Iowa Constitution.

Any relevant thoughts are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Read Todd Dorman on the Iowa House’s “parting gift to local government officials who like to play secret agent on your dime.”

  • I am just curious

    why you think passing SF-2379 was “pathetic”, it was years in the making, and did not use up a disproportionate amount of time.

    (full disclosure, I am a DKos RKBA’r)

    • basically, I agree with Reps. Mascher and Hunter

      This bill is not good for public safety.

      One of the key pieces of debate today centered around the issue of reciprocity.  Iowa’s public safety commissioner would have compared laws in other states with Iowa’s before that state’s gun permits would be recognized in Iowa. The commissioner would have been in charge of obtaining agreements with each state that meet or exceed Iowa’s concealed weapons laws.

      But instead, under a provision approved by the Senate, valid permits issued to nonresidents by other states would be valid in Iowa without the commissioner’s review.

      Opponents argued that laws in other states may be so weak that virtually any person – regardless of their possible criminal histories – could be eligible to carry a gun.

      “It should not be up to those states, it should be up to us to determine if their standards were as good as ours,” said Rep. Mary Mascher, later adding that “this kind of reciprocity, I think, is a formula for disaster.” […]

      Rep. Bruce Hunter, D-Des Moines, argued that the ability of sheriffs to deny permits on a wide variety of reasons is sensible. Local sheriff officials may be aware, for example, if a local residents is involved in domestic abuse but has escaped charges because the other spouse my refuse to come forward.

      Hunter argued that overprotective sheriff officials who wrongly deny gun permits is rare and, if a problem, voters can oust that sheriff.

      “Iowa has a good law on the books right now,” Hunter said.

      This bill was revived for political reasons, to help a few rural Democrats. Even if some Democrat is going to be re-elected because of this bill who would have lost otherwise (which I doubt), I don’t think it’s worth the trade-off in public safety.

      How about Democratic leaders going the extra mile to pass bills that are supported by people who actually vote for Democrats?

  • OK fair enough

    all I ask is that using sterotypes such as

    How about Democratic leaders going the extra mile to pass bills that are supported by people who actually vote for Democrats?

    be avoided. There are alot of liberal, progressive, Democratic voting, fully law abiding, 2nd amendment advocates in Iowa. Perhaps more than you realize.

  • They *almost* changed the law to keep lobbyists from running the state

    but then at the last minute, surprise, they left the law unchanged – at the behest of the lobbyists.

    So we still have a department head who is a lobbyist, and it’s still legal for her to use her position to throw state tax dollars to her business. Ah, well. Maybe next year.

    • which bill was that?

      I can’t say I am surprised, unfortunately.

      • My info is from the Register's Winners/Losers article

        “One new law shines more sunlight on lobbyists who wine and dine lawmakers during the session. But lobbyists squelched one proposal that would have required them to wear name tags and another that would have banned state agencies from employing someone whose job is primarily to be a lobbyist.”

        http://www.desmoinesregister.c…

        The “primarily to be a lobbyist” wording might’ve been a loophole anyway. She could claim that her main job is head of the DCA, despite being a partner in a large lobbying firm.

        Regardless, considering how the Register is almost looking like an investigative paper with their coverage of the IASB, I wish they’d take some of that energy to look at this apparently legal but to me unethical situation.

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