Iowa legislative news roundup: dead and alive after the second funnel

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.  

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Department of Public Safety chief resigns; Branstad brings back Larry Noble

Governor Terry Branstad accepted Brian London’s resignation last night as head of the Iowa Department of Public Safety. This morning the governor announced that he is reappointing former State Senator Larry Noble to the position. Noble served as Department of Public Safety commissioner from January 2011 until June 2012.

Follow me after the jump for background on London’s short and rocky tenure.

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Previewing the Iowa Senate district 35 special election (updated)

Last week Larry Noble resigned from the Iowa Senate, effective December 17, because Governor-elect Terry Branstad selected him to be commissioner of the Iowa Department of Public Safety in the next administration. After the jump I’ve posted Noble’s official biography from his campaign website. He is well qualified to lead the Department of Public Safety and will have no trouble winning confirmation from his former Iowa Senate colleagues.

Noble’s resignation leaves Republicans with 22 seats in the Iowa Senate. Democrats are assured of a slim majority in the chamber with 26 seats. A January 4 special election in Senate district 48 will determine the successor to Kim Reynolds, who resigned to become lieutenant governor. Sometime this week, Governor Chet Culver will set a date for the special election to replace Noble. The election will take place within 45 days of Culver’s announcement, probably in late January.

Senate district 35 covers most of the northern half of Polk County (map). It includes the Des Moines suburbs of Ankeny and Johnston, as well as Grimes, Polk City, Alleman, Elkhart and rural areas north of I-80. The area has experienced rapid population growth in the past decade and leans strongly Republican. The seat was last vacant in 2006, when Jeff Lamberti stepped down to run for Congress. Iowa Democrats recruited Ankeny Mayor Merle Johnson and invested heavily in the race, but Noble won by 52 percent to 48 percent in a Democratic wave year. Democrats did not nominate a candidate against Noble when he came up for re-election in 2010. As of December 1, Senate district 35 had 23,450 registered Republicans, 18,065 registered Democrats and 19,017 no-party voters.

So far no one has announced plans to run in Senate district 35. Democrats and Republicans will hold special district nominating conventions to select candidates.

UPDATE: In the comments, Bleeding Heartland user nick29 posted a press release from Jim Gocke, who will seek the Republican nomination for this Senate seat. Gocke is a law partner of Jeff Lamberti.

DECEMBER 23 UPDATE: Culver set the election for January 18.

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An early look at the 2010 Iowa Senate races

Conservative blogger Craig Robinson argued last week that “Iowa Republicans Have Plenty of Opportunity in the State Senate” in 2010. The GOP has almost nowhere to go but up. Republicans currently hold 18 of the 50 seats in the Iowa Senate, fewer than at any previous time in this state’s history. After making gains in the last four general elections, Democrats now hold 19 of the 25 Iowa Senate seats that will be on the ballot in 2010. Also, several Democratic incumbents are in their first term, having won their seats during the wave election of 2006.

To win back the upper chamber, Republicans would need a net gain of seven seats in 2010, and Robinson lists the seven districts where he sees the best chances for the GOP.

I generally agree with John Deeth’s view that only a few Senate districts are strong pickup opportunities for Republicans next year. Winning back the upper chamber will take the GOP at least two cycles, with redistricting likely to create who knows how many open or winnable seats in 2012.

After the jump I’ll examine the seven Iowa Senate districts Robinson views as worthwhile targets as well as one Republican-held district that Democrats should be able to pick up. Here is a map (pdf file) of the current Iowa Senate districts.

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