As the Iowa Legislative Session comes to a close (or maybe not...) - one of Governor Branstad's top priorities is struggling to stay alive. Bullying prevention efforts have gained bipartisan support over the last few years as leaders from both parties have heard the demands of their constituents for more work to be done protecting Iowa's kids. Let's take a look at this year's bullying bill and what happened to a policy item that every major education organization and several other leaders in school issues supported.Continue Reading...
When I was a child, I hated getting my picture taken. An infamous family photo taken at an older sister's wedding is of the entire family grouped together, grinning for the professional photographer - except 10-yr-old me. I have a scowl on my face big enough to scare away the Dalai Lama. Not sure how old I was before I quit hiding when mom or dad yelled, "Family picture time!", but eventually I overcame the low self-esteem and painful shyness that dominated adolescence.
40 years later, it's more than a little ironic that one of my duties as Art's clerk is to photograph his legislative day. After winning re-election, Art decided to document the process involved in how our laws are made. This means a gazillion pictures of meetings with constituents one-on-one, pictures of group meetings, pics of sub-committees, full committees, and ultimately pictures of House debate.
Last week, after taking pictures of various representatives during floor debate on education, I returned to my seat next to Art's. The Chief Clerk came out of the Well (rather unusual during floor action, but House Leadership told her not to wait), up to my desk and told me not to take pictures of individual reps unless I had their permission - per House Rules.Continue Reading...
For the past several legislative sessions - a bully bill in some form or another has been proposed and supported by Governor Branstad. In each session, the bill has taken on many different forms and have gone from extreme (license to bully provision) to this year's shocking development.
Read on for the latest in the Governor's proposed 2015 Bully Free Iowa Act.Continue Reading...
Governor Terry Branstad will deliver his annual Condition of the State address to members of the Iowa House and Senate this morning at 10 am. You can watch the speech live on Iowa Public Television's website or on IPTV World (channel 119 on Mediacom in central Iowa). The full text as prepared will be available on the governor's official website.
Judging by yesterday's opening remarks from state legislative leaders, Iowa House Republicans most want to see new tax reform proposals from the governor. Iowa Senate Democrats are most closely watching to see whether Branstad will propose adequate funding for education at all levels, from pre-school to K-12 to community colleges and state universities. I'll update this post later with highlights from the day. Any comments about the governor's speech (content or delivery) or the upcoming legislative session are welcome in this thread.
UPDATE: Added highlights and some reaction to the "Together We Can" speech below. James Q. Lynch created a graphic showing the words Branstad used most.
Chutzpah alert: Branstad is urging lawmakers to "bring together state agencies that have a shared interest in quality of life initiatives and invest in our parks, trails, lakes and museums." Maybe he's forgotten that the state legislature did that last year, before he vetoed millions of dollars that would have gone toward parks, trails, water quality programs and other amenities.
It's also disappointing that the governor can't quit lying about how many jobs have been created since he returned to public office.
It's encouraging to hear the governor call for stronger efforts to protect victims of domestic violence and end bullying in schools. The devil will be in the details of those proposals. Speaking to Radio Iowa, Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum said "the anti-bullying proposal as well as the anti-domestic violence proposal will get a very good response from the Iowa Senate." But she said the governor's proposed education funding is "less than what we know we need in order to bring Iowa's per pupil spending investment up to at least close the national average." Meanwhile, House Speaker Kraig Paulsen told Radio Iowa that his caucus will continue to look for tax cuts ("a way to for Iowans to leave more of their own money in their pockets").
SECOND UPDATE: As he did last year, the governor called for expanding access to broadband statewide. But strangely, Branstad does not plan to attend President Barack Obama's scheduled January 14 event in Cedar Falls, where the president will "propose plans to increase affordable access to high-speed broadband internet."
LATE UPDATE: Nate Monson, executive director for Iowa Safe Schools, characterized the governor's anti-bullying bill as a "giant leap forward for gay youth" in Iowa. I've enclosed excerpts from his Des Moines Register guest editorial at the end of this post.Continue Reading...
The Iowa legislature's second "funnel" deadline passed late last week. To remain eligible for debate during the remainder of this year's session, most legislation needed to have passed one chamber as well as a committee in the other chamber. There are a few exceptions to the rule, namely appropriations bills and some tax measures. Rod Boshart listed the most significant "dead" and "alive" bills for the Cedar Rapids Gazette. The Iowa House Republican staff compiled a more comprehensive list of "second funnel survivors," including bill summaries. The Iowa Senate Democratic staff highlighted the most important bills passed by the Senate that died in the House.
After the jump I've enclosed more links and some analysis on bills that died as well as those still under consideration. From my perspective, the most surprising casualty of the funnel was a bill to extend the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children (see the "safety and crime" section below).
Any comments on pending legislation in the Iowa House or Senate are welcome in this thread.Continue Reading...
Governor Terry Branstad delivered his annual "Condition of the State" address to Iowa lawmakers this morning. By Branstad's standards, it was not a partisan speech. He drew several standing ovations from legislators in both parties, and it's easy to imagine the Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate embracing most of the policies he advocated. In fact, immediately after the speech, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal told Iowa Public Television's Dean Borg that he "didn't hear anything" he disagreed with. Gronstal did get in a quick jab at the governor, though, pointing out that Branstad hailed "predictability" for the state budget, which is what statehouse Democrats are seeking for school districts. During the last two years, House Republicans and Branstad have refused to comply with Iowa law requiring the legislature to set allowable growth levels for K-12 school districts a year in advance.
Highlights from the governor's speech are after the jump. Click here to read the full text, as prepared. Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.
Stylistic note: for a guy who's been in politics as long as Branstad has, he keeps his eyes glued to his script a lot. Experienced public speakers typically make more eye contact with the audience.Continue Reading...