# Legislation

Lots of Questions for Branstad Regarding Water Quality

Water quality monitoring and other water programs at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources–some federally mandated–are meant to protect the public health.  Yet a proposal to transfer several of these programs to the Department of Agriculture, say legislators, comes from Governor Branstad and is about making the programs “more efficient.”  How will these programs actually be more efficient if operated by IDALS? No one, who understands the actual operations of each program, seems to know.

With the potential public health impact, where are the studies that show that, unlike every other state in the nation, Iowa's water programs will be run “more efficiently” AND still be protective of public health if overseen by an elected official whose mission is “Advancing Iowa's Agricultural Interests,” when many of Iowa's agricultural groups have historically and actively lobbied against water quality protections?

Bill numbers are currently being assigned to these study bills, which passed out of Senate and House Committees last week. 

Jeff Danielson - Supporting commonsense legislation since 2005

Jeff Danielson is a state Senator serving Hudson, Cedar Falls and Waterloo who has been working on commonsense legislation since being elected in 2005. Until a few days ago, I honestly had never heard of him– but I'm new to Iowa and live in Des Moines, so I think I should get a free pass.

For anyone who doesn't know about Danielson, he was born and raised in Iowa, served in the Navy for six years, and has been a firefighter since 1994. While raising a family and working, he used the G.I. Bill to earn a college degree and then eventually got a Masters degree. He also finds time to serve on numerous boards and commissions. He is a former commissioner of the Iowa Department of Transportation Commission and the City of Waterloo's Planning, Programming and Zoning Commission. He currently serves as a board member of the Hawkeye chapter of the American Red Cross, the UNI Leadership Advisory Board and Black Hawk Economic Development, Inc. Danielson took his seat in the Senate in 2005 and is now sitting on the Rebuild Iowa, State Government, Transportation, and Ways and Means committees, as well as the Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee.

In short, Jeff Danielson is a workhorse for Iowa.

Continue Reading...

House Bills Would Give IDALS Responsibility of Protecting Iowa's Water Quality

Governor Branstad and legislators are considering transferring Section 319/Clean Water Act compliance functions, water monitoring and other water quality protection programs from the DNR to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS).  The 319 section of the Clean Water Act deals with non-point source pollution.  Agricultural practices are the primary source of non-point source pollution in Iowa. 

Secretary Northey and his department are very capable and trusted advocates for Iowa’s agricultural economy.  But the primary mission and priorities of his department are not about protecting water quality.  If transferred to IDALS, water quality would take a back seat to agricultural economic priorities.  Given the historical resistance to water quality restrictions by some groups representing agriculture, moving our water protection programs to IDALS could put politics before sound science. 

Also important to note is that Section 319 deals with urban sources of non-point pollution and IDALS does not have experience or expertise in addressing urban stormwater management issues.  Transfer of this responsibility will put protection of water quality for all Iowans at risk.

You can find an action alert and a sample message to send to Gov. Branstad and legislators at http://capwiz.com/iaenvironment/home/  

UPDATE from desmoinesdem: I posted background information from Iowa Rivers Revival and the Iowa Environmental Council after the jump.

Continue Reading...

RALLY For Iowa's Water & Land Legacy - February 9, 2011

As many of you know, I work for Iowa's Water & Land Legacy Coalition in addition to my lucrative high paying career as a blogger under the tutelage of desmoinesdem.

Details are below, but we will be holding a public rally at the Iowa State Capitol on the morning of February 9th, 2011 to publicize Iowans support for fully funding the Natural Resources & Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund that was created through a vote of 63% of Iowans on November 2nd.

In addition to supporting the funding of the Trust Fund, we are also pushing back against efforts to ban public land acquisition by the Iowa DNR and cuts in REAP (Resource Enhancement & Protection).  These are important programs with water quality, soil conservation, and wildlife habitat benefits.  

You can visit www.iowaswaterandlandlegacy.org to learn more, but information about the rally is below. 

Continue Reading...

Zaun swings at Boswell, hits Latham and King

Republican Congressional candidate Brad Zaun has promised to give voters 14 reasons not to re-elect 14-year incumbent Leonard Boswell in Iowa’s third district. Last week Zaun unveiled reason number 1: Boswell “has been listed as a ‘follower’ according to the non-partisan website www.GovTrack.us. […] Boswell has sponsored only 66 bills since January 7, 1997, and 63 never made it out of committee. Only three of Boswell’s bills were successfully enacted…and of those three, two were for renaming federal buildings.”

Bleeding Heartland readers who are familiar with the workings of the Iowa Senate may be amused by backbencher Zaun calling someone else a “follower.” Technically, Zaun is one of four assistant Iowa Senate Republican leaders; that’s a four-way tie for the number 3 spot in an 18-member caucus. He isn’t exactly a commanding presence at the capitol. Boswell was much more influential as Iowa Senate president in the 1990s before his first election to Congress. But I digress.

Zaun misleads by implying members of Congress can only be judged by the bills they sponsor, and I’ll have more to say on that after the jump. First, let’s see how Iowa’s two Republicans in the House of Representatives look through GovTrack’s prism.  

Continue Reading...

Iowa Commission on the Status of Women Legislative Update

(I would love to see more advocacy groups posting diaries like this about what's going on at the statehouse. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Greetings from the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women!

As we begin the fifth week of the Legislative session, we wanted you to be aware of some developments in legislation affecting women and girls. While by no means an exhaustive list, we hope updates on the following ICSW priorities may be of interest to you. Both of the bills prefiled by ICSW are assigned to State Government Committees in the Senate and House and may likely see movement this week.

Please consider contacting your Senator and Representative, or either of the aforementioned Committees with your thoughts on the following three issues:

*SSB1089/HSB73: Enhanced Protections for Equal Pay

Similar to the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act recently signed into law by President Obama, this bill would clarify existing protections from wage discrimination, clarify when a person has a cause of action, and would stipulate penalties for employers found to have discriminated. To learn more about the bill, please review our policy brief. Iowa is ranked 37th in the nation for wage equity, and recent studies show that 82% of the recent national job losses are borne by men—wage equity is more important than ever! (NY Times: As Layoffs Surge, Women May Pass Men in Job Force). This bill has been sent to the State Government Committee in the Senate, and is expected to go the same route this week in the House.

* SSB1050/HSB12: Gender Balance on Local Boards and Commissions

According to a phone survey of all 99 counties, statewide, women make up less than one out of every six county-appointed decision makers on important economically-focused boards and commissions like Planning/Zoning, Adjustment, Compensation, and Condemnation. In fact, even though every county does not have a Board of Adjustment (reviews local property tax appeals), 44 counties have zero women on that particular Board. Statewide boards and commissions have been required to be gender-balanced since 1987. Voted out of the House State Government Committee (20-1) on Thursday, this bill could see floor debate in both chambers this week. See our policy brief for more information. Read last week’s news coverage on the bill here.

*Last but not least, the Governor’s budget included significant cuts for almost all state spending, but made sure to include the full funding amount needed to support the state’s sexual assault and domestic violence centers: $4.1 million. Please contact members of the Justice System Appropriations Subcommittee and let them know how crucial these services are. For talking points or more information, go to http://www.victimstosurvivors.org/. You may also wish to thank Governor Culver and Lt. Governor Judge for making this a priority!

Action Time on Key Energy Bills in the House

Two major energy bills are headed towards floor votes in the House probably Friday, Aug 3.  I haven't yet sorted out what amendments were made yesterday.  This is one of those Congressional doozies, a 700-plus page bill of high complexity that will have a lasting impact on the future of the nation.  Lawmakers will thus only have about 48 hours to familiarize themselves with its provisions.

Bill details and links to track both the bills and coverage of the provisions after the jump. 

Continue Reading...