Monday is the first day of the 2010 session of the Iowa Legislature. Â Over the past month or so I’ve had an opportunity on my internet radio show The Conservative Reader Report to discuss the upcoming session with a few local Republican House Members, including Peter Cownie, Erik Helland, and Chris Hagenow. Â All of them had the same message we’ve been hearing via the press: this year’s session will be about the Budget.
These Republicans also stated their support for giving Iowan’s the right to vote for a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage, despite the fact that it appears unlikely such an opportunity will exist in the 2010 session. Mike Grandstall has already stated that he will not allow a bill that will define marriage as one man and one woman. Â The liberal media is all about calling it discriminatory and that it is “against same-sex marriage”, but the biggest furor should be over one simple thing: Democrats being “against” Â the right of Iowans to vote on this important issue. Â It is ironic that the Democratic Party, the supposed party of “Yes”, is now the party of “No”. Â And this on something less trivial than the typical money spending that Republicans typically try to stop, but on a most fundamental right of Iowans, and clearly desired by a majority of Iowans, to vote on this issue directly. Â Instead, the majority party chooses to abrogate the rights of Iowans.
Also on the table are potential opportunities to bring back some labor union priorities, Fair Share apparently being on top of the Governor’s list (he and other Dems owe the unions a lot, and they have not done much to deliver so far). Â Other priorities include Prevailing Wage, and Doctor Shopping.
Getting back to the budget, it was encouraging to see today’s Des Moines Register editorial recommending, along with “preserving healthcare for low-income Iowans”, among other things, that the Legislature take a hard look at Tax Credits and consolidation, but most important:
“…the discussion also should include suggestions about what state government can do without…”
How long can it take to figure this one out? Â And the Register even made some good suggestions:
“…the Power Fund? Economic-development programs? Services that could be turned over to private contractors?”
And they said, (gasp!) that schools would have to get by with less!
This is certainly a start. Â Perhaps the approach that the Editors are seeking is to “make a list and lets see what we can drop to get the budget balanced”. Â The notion that budgeting is a hard process involving a balance between what we can afford and what we want is the unfortunate result of coveting what others have. Â Greed and selfish desire drive this kind of thinking.
Unfortunately, our current legislature and administration’s thinking about the role of government is that it exists to make sure everyone gets their share of the pie… that everything that has ever looked like a legitimate government service or department must be viable. Â Try to stuff everything into a bag, and then pull out a few odds and ends to make it fit the budget.
The typical conservative view is that government exists to address the real needs of the people that cannot be filled by individuals and business or non-profits. Â Life (defense, security, emergency services), liberty (justice, rule of law), and property/pursuit of happiness (infrastructure, free-market capitalism). Â Most of what government needs to address can be fit in these categories. Â Some would say that anything on top of that is optional. Â But why should they be optional? Â All that does is promote the idea that there is a government trough available at least in good times, and as we’ve seen, also in bad times.
Our government should stop spending money on things that that the government simply does not need to be doing and can instead be done by business, non-profits and individuals on their own. Â Instead, our government will continue to bloat because everyone seeks the opportunity for free money from the government. Â What is needed is real discipline.
And don’t believe that your taxes won’t get raised… as long as the Legislature is unable to bring spending down to an appropriate level they will need to find ways to “raise revenue”… that is, raise taxes.
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I might take some heat for this. Â I agree that the NRA recommendations for changes to Iowa handgun laws would be beneficial to the citizens of the state, and I hope we can get them brought through the legislative process soon. Â However, I also agree with the Register that in 2010, this will simply be a distraction. Â And in 2010, with a Democratically controlled Assembly, we probably won’t see it pass anyhow. Â It would be best to wait until 2011 when the balance of power is likely to shift back to the right a bit.
However, I don’t take the same position on the Marriage Amendment. Â It would not hurt to allow this to hit the floor and get discussed and voted on in both houses this year… it will still need to be approved in the 2011 session before it can go to the voters. Â Delaying it a year does only that… delays it. Â The sooner the people of Iowa have an opportunity to vote on this the sooner we can put it behind us.
I’m also glad to see the Register continue to argue for transparency. Â I don’t think that either party historical has a corner on promoting more open government, but Republicans have tried last year to get some good legislation through to ensure the public would have easy access to information about what our government is doing, but was rejected by the Majority. Â It really is time to open the doors and make the data available to all.
The following are Iowa Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinleyâ€™s (R-Chariton) final remarks delivered Sunday morning:
Thank you, Mr. President. Friends and Colleagues:
I know we are about to drop the gavel for the final time on this yearâ€™s legislative session and I know we are all a little tired but before we go home to the people in our districts, I think it might be necessary to look back at the last 104 days and provide the people of Iowa with some needed perspective. After all, it is the people of Iowa who are our employers and it is the people of Iowa who make our communities unique and our state something we can all be proud of.
These three million people elected us to act as their voice and their vote. They sent us to represent them. They are the hardworking people who truly make this state work. Yet, many Iowans have been left wondering whether their opinion really matters and if legislators are really listening to them.
It would be a mistake for us to forget what our very own Constitution says in Article 1, Section 2. The first sentence simply states: â€œAll political power is inherent in the people.â€ Government is supposed to be of the people and for the people but sometimes this session I was left wondering at times if this was government versus the people.
We have witnessed the frustrations of so many Iowans who just want their government to live within its means. This Legislature has now spent more money than any Legislature in the 163 year history of the state of Iowa. There has been too much spending and too much borrowing and as a result, Iowans have become discouraged. As a result, we witnessed several thousand Iowans gather not only here at the capitol â€“ but across Iowa and this country on April 15 to protest the spending and taxation policies of their government. They feel like their government is not listening to them.
When hundreds of Iowans packed the gallery of the House of Representatives to show their disappointment with a proposal to eliminate federal deductibility, force Iowans to pay a tax on a tax and raise taxes on Iowa families and employers in literally every single tax bracket, they were removed from the chambers and the doors were locked. The public was removed from a public hearing â€“ 600 employers were kicked out of the peopleâ€™s house by one employee.
Iowa families and employers are making tough decisions every day and yet they witness state government continue to tax and spend and borrow and spend while all this spending is not the solution needed to grow Iowa and bring about prosperity and opportunity.
There are over 80,000 Iowans out of work and yet there was no major piece of legislation passed that would help get those Iowans back into sustainable and permanent jobs. Iowans asked us for leadership on creating jobs â€“ not creating government work through overwhelmingly unpopular bonding and debt proposals. Did we answer their call?
Earlier this month, seven elites on the Supreme Court struck down Iowaâ€™s Defense of Marriage Act and opened up the definition of marriage to be something other than between one man and one woman. For the past three weeks, Iowans have been clamoring for a voice on this issue just as they have wanted a say in other important issues too. Yet, Senators in this body are obstructing the opportunity for the people of Iowa â€“ the people we are here to represent â€“ to have a say in this important and emotional issue. Before you leave this building today, do you want to go home without beginning the process of giving the people of Iowa a chance to vote on a Marriage Amendment? Ignoring the voices of the Iowans we are here to represent is a troubling trend that certainly needs to end.
Just over three months ago, I stood here on the floor of the Iowa Senate on the first day of session and said that we, as Republicans, would work tirelessly to offer solutions that would grow Iowa – not grow government and give a voice back to the people.
I am proud that we, as Republicans and Democrats, were able to find plenty of opportunities where we were able to find common ground and work together to deliver true bi-partisan results for the people of Iowa â€“ the people we were sent here to represent. Yet, we all know there are major differences between the two parties and I think those differences in priorities were also apparent this session.
As I mentioned on the first day, Senate Republicansâ€™ over-arching goal has been and will continue to be the need to re-establish a concept that I believe has been forgotten in recent years: the notion that it is Iowans who run government and not the other way around. Though I am confident and optimistic that we can eventually be successful in fully returning the government to its rightful owners – the people of Iowa â€“ I do believe we have plenty of room for improvement.
I just want to conclude by reminding you of a wonderful Iowa story. I told this story on the first day of the session and I think it will serve as something to think about every day as we work during this interim to start to developing policy for next yearâ€™s session.
Economic opportunity is the great equalizer in a free society and it is economic opportunity that turns a dream into a business. It was a dream that David Vredenburg, a good southern Iowa boy, had in the 1930s. Months after the worst day on Wall Street, Mr. Vredenburg and a friend, Charles Hyde, opened a small general store. They opened a store at a time when the only thing more scare than money was hope. As unemployment began ramping up to one quarter of the population and a different bank closed every day the southern Iowa dreamer kept working. Today, as you know, Mr. Vredenburg’s legacy that began as a depression-era general store has become 220 Hy-Vee stores across the Midwest and boasts 55,000 thankful employees.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am going to leave here today with a sense of optimism because I believe in this state. I believe every community has many future David Vredenburgs and Charles Hydes and I hope that we can, in the future, work to make it easier for those Iowans to fully realize their dreams and aspirations.We must never forget that Iowans have common sense, are hardworking are some of the best educated in the world. This state has boundless potential and opportunity and I look forward to working to unleash the ingenuity, creativity and imagination that exists all throughout our great state.
Until we meet again, lets work to restore the public’s trust by truly having a government that’s responsive to the peopleâ€™s wishes and needs.Â Thank you.
So, the leadership of the Iowa General Assembly are again hoping to end the session this week.Â From their standpoint, I think they hope to finish up the budget, pass the repeal of Federal Deductibility, and avoid any more discussion about a Marriage Amendment to the Iowa Constitution.
It might be a bit of a challenge.
The next three days, various groups will be descending on the Iowa Statehouse, and you can join them.
Monday, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM: Protest of the Supreme Court Decision regarding Gay Marriage:
West side of the Iowa Capitol Building, Des Moines
Please dress warm.Â In case of rain, go inside the Capitol.
- Everyday America
- Iowa Christian Alliance â€“ Norm Pawlewski
- Concerned Women of America â€“ Tamara Scott
- Iowa Eagle Forum
- Iowa Family Policy Center
- Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators
- and many more to be announced Monday.
Tuesday, 10:00 AM: Protest of the planned Repeal of Federal Deductibility (“Tax on a Tax”)
From Iowans for Tax Releif:
We need you to come to the Iowa Capitol on Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 10:00am to make your voice heard.Â The Legislature will be in session all day and we need taxpayers to show up and say “No Tax on a Tax”.
If you still have your red shirt and “No Tax on a Tax” buttons, please bring them along and wear them proudly.
The bill to repeal federal deductibility and forces you to pay a tax on a tax, has a new amendment.Â House Democrat leaders filed the amendment on Wednesday in effort to improve House File 807, but is still bad for taxpayers.
Governor Culver called the plan a $54 million tax cut.Â His description is clearly imaginative.Â The numbers provided by the Iowa Department of Revenue tell a different story.
The truth is:
2009Â Â Â Â Â Â Â $20.198 million tax cut
2010Â Â Â Â Â Â Â $34.898 million tax cut
2011Â Â Â Â Â Â Â $154.148 million tax INCREASE
2012Â Â Â Â Â Â Â $157.104 million tax INCREASE
2013Â Â Â Â Â Â Â $149.01 million tax INCREASE
NET RESULTÂ Â $405.166 million TAX INCREASE for Iowans over the next five years.
This new plan and the majority party’s explanation is similar to the story of a schoolyard bully.Â What Iowa kid would be happy with the following occurring?
The bully tells a kid, “look I’m not going to steal your lunch money on Monday.Â In fact, I’m going to give you a $20 bill.Â On Tuesday, I’m going to give you $34.Â See how nice I am, I just gave you $54.”
The bully continues, “but, you better have $154 for me Wednesday, and every day from then on.”
Ed Failor, Jr., President of Iowans for Tax Relief commented, “Iowa taxpayers are tired of being bullied into paying more and more taxes.Â The net result of this bill over the next five years is more than a $400 million tax increase on Iowans.Â How on earth is that a tax cut?”
To make matters worse, in 2011 just over 149,000 Iowa taxpayers who earn $40,000 per year, or less, will see an increase in their Iowa income tax burden.Â Is that really the Democrat definition of a middle class tax cut?” Failor concluded.
We can win this fight, but we need your help.
So we need action from you, your family, your neighbors, and friends.Â If you can not join us at the Capitol, then please continue your phone calls, faxes, and emails.
Please contact Governor Culver at his office:
Please contact your Legislators at the Capitol:
Thank you for all of your support and we look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 10:00am!
Wednesday, 11:00 to 2:00 PM: Des Moines Tea Party at Iowa State Capitol West Lawn to Protest State and Federal Spending and Taxation
From the Des Moines Tea Party web site:
- Bring folding chair if you need seating
- Wear comfortable clothes
- Bring your own signs (no sticks or poles)
- Bring your camera!
- Parking (see info in sidebar at right)
- Be prepared to have fun – it is going to be a hoot!
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With all of this distraction, it will be a wonder if the Legislature gets anything done.Â Â Personally, I hope they do get done… at least save us SOME money!
Thursday morning (that’s tomorrow) at 8:30 there will be rally at the Iowa State Capitol West Lawn.Â Lots of information at letusvoteiowa.org.Â Please go there and read the information on parking, purpose, etc.
There are a number of legislators, along with Governor Culver, who are questioning the political safety of supporting this amendment.Â Between their fears and the outright obstinance of Democratic leaders to prevent the voice of the people from being heard, we are in dire need of people to take a stand now, to show the Iowa General Assembly that this matters to Iowans in a big way.
Some good information from letusvote.org:
WHAT CAN I DO TODAY?
You can continue to keep pressure on the Iowa House by calling the following Members who are still undecided as to how they will vote on the Iowa Marriage Amendment.Â Urge them to vote yes on the procedural vote.Â Remind them that the procedural vote is a vote on the Iowa Marriage Amendment.
Representative Brian Quirk â€“ [email protected], 515.242.6436 (desk),
Home Address: 1011 Sunset St., New Hampton, IA, 50659
Representative McKinley Bailey â€“ [email protected], 515.281.7480(desk),
Home Address: 521 Elmhurst Dr., Webster City, IA 50595
Representative Mike Reasoner â€“ [email protected], 515.281.3238 (desk),
Home Address: 702 New York Avenue, Creston, IA, 50801
Representative Kurt Swaim â€“ [email protected], 515.242.6417 (desk), 641.208.6330 (cell)
Home Address: 504 North Davis, Bloomfield, IA, 52537
Representative Larry Marek â€“ [email protected], 515.242.6442 (desk), 319.430.0294 (cell)
Home Address: 1741 Riverside Road, Riverside, IA, 52327
Representative Kerry Burt â€“ [email protected], 515.281.7342 (desk), 319.215.8685 (cell)
Home Address: 150 Hawthorne Ave., Waterloo, IA, 50702
Representative Wayne Ford â€“ [email protected]state.ia.us, 515.281.4061 (desk), 515.271.0605 (home)
Home Address: 3301 Cottage Grove Ave, Des Moines, IA 50311-3709
Representative Nathan Reichert â€“ [email protected], 515.281.7332 (desk), 563.571.5242 (cell)
Home Address: 1155 Iowa Avenue, Muscatine, IA, 52761
Representative Paul Shomshor â€“ [email protected], 515.281.7325 (desk),
Home Address: 3018 Avenue M, Council Bluffs, IA, 51501
Representative Phyllis Thede â€“ [email protected], 515.281.7336 (desk), 563.508.1773 (cell) Home Address: 2343 Hawthorne Court, Bettendorf, IA, 52722
Also, check out this post from Shane Vander Hart.