Laura Belin

Well put! | Rated: Up
Utilities are also in the business of producing public-relations TV ads that are such enormous jaw-dropping are-you-kidding-me whoppers that seeing the ads can cause nausea and/or vertigo in anyone who understands reality. The MidAmerican Energy TV ad this week about the wonderful Iowa solar bill they are supporting almost made me lose my lunch.
Utilities are not in the business of producing power unless you’re talking about political power. They are in the business of producing profits and a lot of it. They support their customers energy efficiency efforts only because they are mandated to do so. They are also required to interconnect their customers and pay net metering rates for solar and wind systems. Last year they repealed energy efficiency requirements and now they are after net metering. Don’t let them get away with it!
Attention Iowa Republican legislators -- this is what happens when you get your conservation information from the Iowa Farm Bureau and its buddies. If you find out during a public meeting that you've been misinformed, which can be kind of embarrassing, what did you expect? SSB 1221 should be in the dictionary next to "gall." It really does take a lot of gall when Iowa Big Ag, led by the IFB -- (1) Uses major political clout to guarantee Iowa farmers don't have to do anything to reduce farm pollution -- (2) Claims this voluntary approach to farm pollution is working well in spite of massive evidence to the contrary -- (3) Tries to eliminate an effective, valid funding source for land projects that have multiple benefits for water quality, soil, wildlife, and outdoor recreation, which is exactly the kind of multiple-benefit water-quality projects that many Iowa local governments really want -- (4) Tries to pretend this bill isn't really a giant foot-stamping snit-fit aimed at the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation because the INHF is working successfully with many grateful landowners, including farmers, who really do want to sell tracts of land that can't be farmed without lots of erosion, water pollution, wildlife loss, or all three. Here's an excerpt from a good story in the CEDAR RAPIDS GAZETTE: *** Jim Beeghly of Decorah told lawmakers he doesn’t want his options for putting his Fayette County farm into the hands of conservation groups limited. “I don’t give a damn what the Farm Bureau wants to do with my farm,” he said. *** Mr. Beeghly, you speak for many of us!! all the things I've learned from this post. So it turns out I agree with the Iowa Pork Producers Association about something, at long last. And my opinion of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, always tentative, just went way down. If you're going to lobby for a bozo bill like this, at least provide an explanation that isn't intelligence-insulting.
...but a few decades ago, there were volunteer good-cause lobbyists at the Statehouse who did a lot of work but never got paid a dime. They were required to register as lobbyists just like the well-paid professional lobbyists. The registration requirements were based, as I recall, on the frequency and amount of time spent trying to influence legislation, not on whether the lobbyist was paid for the work. I don't know what "injecting concern about legislation into the discussion" means, but also back in the day, only legislators were allowed to speak during committee and subcommittee meetings unless an attending non-legislator at the meeting was specifically invited to speak. Maybe that has changed. There were fairly frequent public hearings, however, during which interested Iowans were allowed to speak into microphones and their comments were recorded and put into transcripts for interested lawmakers. In recent years, there seem to be far fewer of those.
The legislature should go in to the statute and define "intelligent mail barcode". I don't think we're likely to be happy with how a Republican legislature defines that, however, and I think it will probably have the same problems that the administrative rule has -- it uses the old Intelligent Mail Barcode tracing system, which is a voluntary program (not used anymore -- known now by another name), so that some counties participate and most don't. Maybe that works for just a county election, but once you start including statewide races, I think you have an equal protection problem of whether someone's vote is being counted. So yes, it is important to have a rule that applies to all county offices equally. In the absence of action by the legislature, a person can initiate a petition for rulemaking to change the administrative rule at the Secretary of State's office. The rule to do this is IAC 721--8.1(17A), which sets forth the form and contents that the petition must take. The rules indicate that a brief may be attached. Within 30 days, the agency must submit a copy of the petition and brief to the administrative rules coordinator (person on the governor's staff who oversees rules) and to the administrative rules review committee. If requested in the petition, the agency must schedule a brief and informal meeting between the petitioner and agency to discuss the petition. The agency may request more information or arguments, and may also solicit comments from any person on the substance of the petition. Also, "comments on the substance of the petition may be submitted to gency by any person. IAC 721-8.4 (1). The agency has 90 days to make a decision in writing. They can deny, including the specific grounds for the denial, or grant the petition and notify the petitioner that the agency has instituted rule-making. IAC 721--8.4(2). Pate is not going to be inclined to grant such a petition. The brief will have to be very convincing and leave him no options. It is my understanding that county auditors don't want to have to use the barcodes, probably because of the increased cost, but maybe also because of the increased effort it would require, so there would be negative comments from that group. People who have had their ballots excluded because of a lack of a postmark should speak in favor of a change to the rule. But if there is strong legal evidence that there is an equal protection problem with the rule as it is currently written, that should require some change. Also, as noted above, it refers to tracing, which no longer exists. That alone should require the rule to be updated. The process of rewriting and going through the rules process takes approximately 8 months, if there are no delays. Add the 90 days of this petition process, and it will take about a year, conservatively, to get the rule adjusted in some way. I think it is a battle worth fighting, though. Note that IAC 721--21.14 (53) deals in depth with Intelligent Mail barcode Tracing. That needs to be updated, changed, or deleted. IAC 721 --21.12(47,53) refers to Intelligent Mail barcode Tracing. That needs to be updated. There may be others.
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