Category: Iowa General Assembly

After All This, Medical Marijuana May Die Anyway

Cannibis Oil, Medical MarijuanaI started off today thinking things were looking good. I have a good job, my wife loves me, had a great Easter service at church, and my friends Steve and Sally Gaer appeared to finally be done with their fight to be able to get cannibis oil treatments for their daughter Margaret who has seizures regularly due to epilepsy.

I could have done without the “Pot” reference in the headline, but I could let that go.

Seeing the article in the Register, after several conversations with Sally in the past few months, was incredibly encouraging. The bill that has been in the works, which was brought about after the funnel with help from both sides of the aisle, is very restrictive but is an important …


Ed. Reform Bill: A Failure of Policy & Politics

Iowa HouseSoon after the final votes of the Iowa legislative session were taken late last week, many legislators from both Parties took to multiple media platforms trumpeting the “historic” and “sweeping” positive reforms they had just passed.  I would love to fully concur—and if I happened to be a Democrat I certainly would—but as a Conservative Republican I am less than impressed with some of these “achievements”.

Of the three major compromises reached I believe, at the most, Conservatives should be “somewhat satisfied” by the understandable terms reached on tax reform and health insurance coverage.  However, I am deeply disappointed by what has passed as “reform” in Iowa’s K-12 education system.  The following will focus on education reform and later in the week we will deal …


What Are Iowa Republicans Looking For In A Senate Candidate?

mystery candidateThere is one certainty about the pool of voters who will decide the impending Republican Senate Primary–they won’t necessarily be the “average” Iowan.  Some of the folks who show up to the polls on June 3rd, 2014 will surely be disaffected Independents (and some meddling Democrats), but the bulk of voters will be fairly hardcore Republicans and single issue activists.  This group will have a specific set of traits they are looking for in a candidate, so the question is what are they?

The focus here today will not be on issues, policy prescriptions, and deeply-held core beliefs–we will get into that down the road–but rather on the more admittedly surface level of broad characteristics.  I believe that the candidate who emerges will be a …


Term Limits In Iowa: A Policy Proposal

Cronstal 1st yearIOne of my favorite self-coined terms is “legi-saurs”.  As you may guess it refers to politicians at all levels of government who get elected–and then never go away.

Like many on the right I am convinced this semi-permanent presence in the halls of power is a destructive one in politics.  These careers start innocently enough.  The member actually has a job in the private sector, lives as a normal citizen, and regardless of ideology brings fresh ideas and solutions to the table.  But in most cases, over time, they eventually detach from the economy by not working  outside the Capitol, they develop grudges against their colleages, their ideas and thinking become stale, and they learn to play the legislative process like a game.

Here in


Another Potential Scandal Brewing In Iowa’s Education System

Iowa map educationWith a sweeping education reform package currently being worked on by a bi-partisan Conference Committee at the Statehouse, some potentially damaging information about how the state is representing student achievement is coming to light.  Late last week the citizen group Iowalive released a report that would, if true, give all Iowa parents and legislators cause for grave concern.

The crux of the report is Iowalive’s claim that the standards our Department of Education is using to report student proficiency levels is misleading.  This, according to the group, stems from Iowa having adopted a lower standard to measure student learning called the “40th National Percentile Rank”.  This current set of standards was adopted a decade ago by the then Governor Vilsack administration and is different from …


New Online Broadcast Focused On Iowa Politics

Iowa Politics is at the front of a new weekly program being hosted by my friend Kevin Hall (columnist at The Iowa Republican) and yours truly.  The program is at Webcast One Live and is called “The Iowa Legislative Hour”.  It is live on Thursdays from around 4:00 (ish) to 5:00 (ish).  The “ish” is because there is probably a 5-10 minute delay in starting since the prior show ends at 4:00 and we have to get in and situated.  The show will also be available for playback… here’s a link to last week’s inaugural show.

State Senator Brad Zaun of Urbandale is graciously joining us each week, and we expect regular visits with State Senator Jack Whitver of Ankeny and State Senator …


The Death Penalty Debate In Iowa

State Senator Kent Sorenson (R-Milo) has been busy so far this session making an aggressive public push to have Iowa reinstate the death penalty.  The main impetus for this was the horrifying double murder of two young cousins in Evansdale last year—an act that certainly justifies the punishment.  Having said that, now is not the time to suck up energy and oxygen on something that even Sorenson himself agrees will not make it to the Governor’s desk.

The Death Penalty As An Issue

The issue itself has two main facets—the morality of capital punishment and the legal system which weighs the evidence and carries out the sentence.  The morality concerns in my view are simply ridiculous, as the idea in principal that someone guilty of …


Challenging Iowa’s Proposed Education Reforms: Part 1 of 3 (Increased Teacher Pay)

Later this session the Iowa Legislature will debate various measures, namely the Governor’s, designed to improve the performance of our state’s K-12 schools.  There are three main components to the Governor’s proposal and in a continuing series we will look at each separately.  Today we start with the most expensive—the $160 million for increasing the base teacher salary from $28,000 to $35,000 over the next three years.

First things first here, before they appropriate an additional dime of taxpayer money to this system it is both fair and prudent that at least three simple questions be asked and answered—Who are the great teachers in Iowa? Who are the average teachers? and Who are the bad teachers?

To clarify, by “who” I mean a literal list …


What You Need To Know In The Upcoming Commercial Property Tax Battle

One of the top three priorities for the upcoming legislative session will be finally putting something on the books to bring Iowa’s commercial property tax rate in line with the rest of the nation.  After much angling by both sides last year, ultimately no adjustments were made to the tax code.

Below you will find a very brief recap and analysis of the three plans that were on the table last year.  They are important to know since past will certainly be prologue in this debate.  Both sides are essentially pushing the same proposed solutions as they did a year ago—and one way or another the law will reflect whichever side wins on the issue.

 

Governor Branstad’s Plan (House Study Bill 519)

This plan …


What Iowa Legislators Should Do On Traffic Cameras—and Why

It’s been a brutal stretch for Republicans since November 6th and I hate to pile on, but one issue facing the Iowa Legislature this session reflects what a perilous situation we could be in as a political party.  That issue is automated traffic enforcement—which, at least so far, applies to only red light and speed cameras.

In spite of the disaster that was the 2012 election here in Iowa, perhaps the most depressing and telling sign of how far we have to go is that a clear majority of Legislators, and apparently Iowans, are not yet willing to say definitively that automated traffic enforcement is unacceptable.  By default then we are saying we do not object to having cameras take pictures and videos of us …


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