A roundup of legislative and Statehouse items of interest for Thursday, March 18:
BEAR HUG: The House Veterans Affairs Committee is encouraging Iowans to participate in the Iowa National Guard Officers Auxiliary’s (INGOAux) “Bear Hug” project. Since 2001 the INGOAux has been assembling and distributing custom-made Teddy Bears for each child, under the age of 12, of a deployed Iowa soldier or airman. The Teddy Bear serves as a source of comfort and as a link to the solider. In the fall of 2010 the Iowa National Guard faces the largest deployment since World War II. The INGOAux has set the goal of raising $30,000 to help provide a Teddy Bear for the 5,000 children who will be affected. According to the House Veterans Affairs Committee, a check can be mailed to the INGOAux at Polk County Bank, PO Box 79, Polk City, Iowa 50226 or by visiting http://www.iowaofficers.org/auxiliary_projects.htm.
DOOMSDAY BUDGETS: Democratic leaders re-affirmed their intention to provide nearly $350 million in education funds despite what Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, called local school districts’ “doomsday budget scenarios.” Those budgets “weren’t reflective of either the 2 percent (allowable growth) or the $100 million” legislative leaders said they will add to state education funds, Gronstal said. In some cases, school district budgets indicated large property tax increases. Gronstal called that “doomsday budgets to scare people.” “We understand that game,” he added.
WILL CULVER BE 26?: That’s the question posed by Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Sabato predicts three will be 24 new governors after the November election. It will take the defeat of only two incumbents to produce a majority of new governors, he said, and predicted scandal-plagued Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons is unlikely to survive. “So which governor will be number 26?” Sabato writes. “The best bet right now appears to be Gov. Chet Culver (D) of Iowa, who is losing polling trial heats by landslide margins to former Gov. Terry Branstad (R).” Of course, Branstad has to survive a three-way primary to face Culver.
CONLIN FILES: U.S. Senate hopeful Roxanne Conlin filed her nomination petitions Thursday with close to 7,800 signatures, well above the 4,145 needed to qualify for the ballot. In addition to qualifying for the ballot, Conlin received signatures from all of Iowa’s 99 counties. “I’m running because I am fed up with the bailouts for Wall Street and nothing for Main Street,” she said. “I’m fed up with the partisan gridlock and special interest giveaways. The ways of Washington and its career politicians are not working and we’re going to fight to fix it.” For more, visit www.roxanneforiowa.com.
REVENUE REPAIR KIT: The Coalition for a Better Iowa Thursday urged state lawmakers to consider addressing a state budget shortfall from the revenue side rather than focusing solely on spending cuts to balance the fiscal 2011 ledger. Coalition spokesman Dan Rowen credited lawmakers with taking some positive steps to boost revenues but they have not gone far enough to generate funds needed for the state to regain a sustainable fiscal footing. To that end, coalition members offered a “Revenue Repair Kit” that sought to limit research activities tax credits, end an exclusion for capital gains liability, and adopt combined reporting to close a corporate tax loophole. “We are here today to urge Iowa lawmakers to begin to repair the state’s budget and fix it for the future, but not on the backs of Iowa’s children, families, and seniors,” Rowen said.
DED BOARD WITHDRAWAL: Gov. Chet Culver has notified leaders of the Iowa Senate that he has withdrawn his reappointment of Ruth MacDonald to the state Economic Development Board. Republican senators indicated that the Iowa State University professor’s voter registration had switched political affiliation, which threw off the required political balance on the state board and led to Culver’s withdrawal. He also notified the Secretary of the Senate that he was deferring the board appointment formerly held by MacDonald until his administration completes the selection process.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “In my 30,000-plus miles of riding the roads of Iowa, I’ve had beer bottles, beer cans, ears of corn, rocks and various other objects tossed at me and fellow riders.” – Sen. Bill Dotzler, D-Waterloo, in arguing for an amendment to a transportation bill that would have outlawed motorists from throwing objects at or “buzz bombing” bicyclists traveling on Iowa roadways.