All Posts Tagged With: "Iowa Legislature"

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 …


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 Iowa

This happens at all levels …


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 …


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 would …


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 …


Completely Pointless and Utterly Absurd

First, some chemistry; iodine turns black when exposed to starch. So, a lighter ink which contains iodine will turn black when it comes into contact with starch, which is included in the manufacturing process of standard copy paper. When the ink is used on paper that doesn’t contain starch (such as most paper made with cotton fiber instead of wood pulp) the ink will maintain a sort of brownish-yellow color.

If you pay for gasoline with a fifty dollar bill, chances are the cashier will make a mark on it with a counterfeit detector pen. American currency, made of cotton fiber and not including starch, will leave the ink that lighter color. Counterfeit currency printed on regular paper will make the ink turn black.

Interestingly …


Has The Tea Party Wave In Iowa Crested?

The year was 2010.  In Iowa, like in the rest of the Country, a reaction to the obscene growth in size and spending at all levels of government boiled into a loud and visible public movement.  The internet was a buzz, local Tea Party chapters were springing up, and the Iowa Capitol was the site of several well attended rallies expressing the sentiment of less government and lower taxes.  Two years later, it is time to ask the question—what results have come of this?

The short answer at the state level here in Iowa is—not too much so far.

Most will argue that more patience is required—and they are right.  Many will cite a variety of reasons that explain the lack of great action—some valid …


84th General Assembly: Preview of Coverage

The gaveling in of the Iowa Legislature’s 84th General Assembly last week signaled an end to the 2012 Presidential Caucus season and the return of a more local political focus for Iowans.

There is no doubt that much of the session’s oxygen will be sucked up by the major issues that failed to produce any legislation following last year’s battles. These issues include reforming the tax code, mental health services, and education, as well as another round of sparring over Iowa setting up a health insurance exchange to work in conjunction with Obama Care.

While these will grab a majority of the headlines, and a good share of our attention here at The Conservative Reader: Iowa, there have already been a number of very interesting …


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