Though the third longest session in Iowa history has been over for two weeks, Governor Branstad still has until the end of July to sign or veto any of the legislation that was passed.
While there were some notable and very positive accomplishments, Senate Democrats also stood in the way of a lot of positive progress.
Here are a few accomplishments followed by some of the missed opportunities.
1) Sustainable Budget
We finally are back on the path to long-term fiscal sustainability with a budget that spends less than we take in and funds Iowaâ€™s priorities. Is there more we can cut? Absolutely. But itâ€™s a good start and a real break from the problems of the last four years.
2) Rule & Regulatory Reform
We have begun to change the direction of the state when it comes to onerous rules and regulations that are stagnating job creation. Our 11 city â€œRe-Open Iowa for Businessâ€ tour has yielded some great suggestions and opened a lot of eyes. Stay tuned in a few weeks more information on this as our comprehensive report will be made public.
3) Reorganization of Economic Development Department
This reorganization of Iowaâ€™s economic development department, one of Governor Branstadâ€™s top priorities, will give the state more flexibility as it pursues and recruits entrepreneurs and job creators to Iowa. This reorganization, coupled with helping our existing businesses, will be key to continuing to grow Iowa.
What were some of our missed opportunities because of Senate Democrat obstruction?
1) Property Taxes
In order to make our state more competitive for jobs, we must have lower property taxes â€“ for all classes of property. Unfortunately, the property taxpayers of Iowa will not get the comprehensive tax reform that they deserve. We will continue to work hard to find a bi-partisan solution and make next session the session of true property tax reform.
2) Clean Abundant Energy
In order to grow the economy of the future, we must have adequate, clean and reliable base-load energy. Nuclear energy is one excellent source that would create a lot of good jobs in Iowa. The Iowa House passed legislation to continue to pursue possibility of adding additional reliable base-load energy. The votes existed to pass it in the Iowa Senate in bi-partisan fashion, but Senator Gronstal obstructed a vote.
3) Income Tax Relief
Both individual and corporate income tax reductions would help grow our economy, create jobs and stimulate positive economic activity. Once again, it did not happen this session because of Senate Democratic obstruction but count on us to continue to push forward next session.
4) Collective Bargaining Reform
The Iowa House, with broad support, voted to inject some common sense reforms into the collective bargaining and arbitration processes in Iowa. For the long term fiscal sustainability of the state, we believe there needs to be more equity and fairness in the process. As it stands today, over 80 percent of state employees pay nothing for health insurance and most get lucrative benefit packages and healthy annual salary increases that are out-of-line with the private sector. It is not just the union bosses that should be at the table â€“ the taxpayers deserve a seat at the table too.
5) Education Reform
We must once again make education about the children and discontinue the notion that simply spending more money will equal better student achievement. We need to set high standards and hold everybody accountable for the success and achievement of our students.
6) Late-Term Abortion & Marriage
Because of inaction by Senate Democrats, Iowa could soon become the Midwest Capital for Late-Term Abortions. We had the votes in the Iowa Senate to slam the door on abortionists like Dr. LeRoy Carhart who wanted to come into Council Bluffs and open up a clinic, but Senate Democrats refused to do what needed to be done. On the issue of marriage, Iowans sent a strong message last fall with the ouster of the three Supreme Court Justices. We need to keep the pressure on to give Iowans the statewide vote they deserve on the issue of marriage.
Though we made some positive steps forward, much of what we set out to accomplish not yet been achieved. Senate Democrats obstructed much of our pro-jobs agenda.
That is why we must work hard day in and day out to talk to our family, friends and neighbors about the important issues facing Iowa and continue to press forward with what we know will bring the brightest future for all present and future Iowans.
As always, I welcome hearing from you and can be reached by phone at 515-281-3560 or by e-mail at [email protected]
Kathie Obradovich’s Sunday Des Moines Register column this week provided an interesting question for us: can we reasonably interpret the results of the retention vote beyond it’s singular purpose?
As Kathie tells us, there are a number of perspectives pressing on this ballot item, although many would point directly at the Varnum v. Brien decision. And as Kathie also notes, if any or all of the three judges up for retention fail to be retained, the decision will still be in place and “same-sex marriage will still be legal [emphasis mine] in Iowa…”.
Mind you, “legal” in this case really goes as far as the administrative authorities accept it to be. It is still open to debate among many (myself included) whether the government administration is obliged to enact a judicially declared “law”. What makes the court’s action “legal” is more the acceptance of those who actually are expected to follow the law created by the legislature and approved by the Governor.
Although it is safe to say that the tensions that keep our society in balance are those that recognize the rule of law and and the overall desire to maintain order. It is in our self-interest to maintain order or we would drop into chaos. But it is dangerous for us to accept idly the unlawful action of a court when it, unelected and perceived to be the ultimate authority, decides to go beyond its bounds.
Regardless of what society as a whole is determined to do about marriage, it is wrong to allow the court to own the universal remedy as it has taken to doing in this case.
It is foolish to watch as the court takes power it does not and should not have. If we stand idly by, we allow tyranny to grow. It could take years or decades, but doing nothing will fuel its growth.
What is the People’s remedy? There are several (truly more than those listed here):
The People can demand that the Administration ignore the court’s order.
The People can change the Constitution to clarify the definition and scope of marriage.
The People can demand that the Legislature change the judicial selection process.
The People can change the Constitution to provide stricter constraints on the role of the Judiciary.
And the People can refuse to retain the judges who have tried to usurp power.
Or the People can just sit back and let the courts continue to amass power until we can no longer recognize our great state.
The retention vote process is not just a rubber stamp. It is the People’s only direct role in a process that we mostly watch from a distance as others choose those who could, if allowed, rule over us. This is how we keep them in check.
What will the vote mean?
I don’t think it will be a mandate on marriage, although it might be fair to see it as one, as much is it will be a statement of who holds power in Iowa.
Let it be the People.
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!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
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!
The following is Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn’s most recent Chairman’s Report.Â – Ed.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A personal note from the Chairman:Â please keep Bob, Darla, and the Vander Plaats family in your thoughts and prayers over the Easter weekend as they continue to mourn the loss of Bobâ€™s father who passed away this week.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Governor Culver flips his position on Same Sex Marriage and sides with the Iowa Supreme Court.
After 100 hours of silence, Iowa Governor Culver finally broke his silence on the Supreme Courtâ€™s decision to strike down Iowaâ€™s law that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.Â While his statement was carefully written and would have done Bill Clinton proud in its attempt to have it both ways, it nonetheless supports the Courtâ€™s decision and effectively flips the Governorâ€™s previously held position to â€œdo whatever it takes to protect marriage.â€
Yesterday, Republican members of the Iowa House attempted to use a House procedural rule to force a potential vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would let the people vote on the definition of marriage.Â Unfortunately, House Democrats refused to allow a vote on that motion so as to protect their members from having to take a tough vote.
Click below to hear Representative Christopher Rantsâ€™ remarks on the House floor courtesy of The Iowa Republican.
Representative Rants: Part 1
Representative Rants: Part 2
Time and again, Democrats at the State House have avoided facing the tough issues and taking the tough votes.Â Whether itâ€™s unsustainable budgets, job-killing labor legislation, punishing tax increases through elimination of federal deductibility, or failing to lead on defining of marriage, Governor Culver and legislative Democrats continue to demonstrate they are completely out of touch with the values of Iowans.
Iowans deserve better.Â And given the opportunity, Republicans will deliver results!
Democrats refuse to give up on federal deductibility repeal and impose a Tax on a Tax.Â House debate set for next Tuesday on new plan to RAISE income taxes over $400 million in the first five years.
Despite an overwhelming outpouring of anger and protest in opposition to their plans to eliminate federal deductibility, raise income taxes on Iowans at all income levels, and impose a punitive tax on a tax, Democrats at the State House have brought forward a â€œrevisedâ€ proposal that contains ALL of the above.
While your great work, and the work of thousands of Republicans across the state, has given the Democrats pause and has slowed the movement of this terrible legislation, it has not yet put a knife in its heart.
This revised plan raises taxes on over 350,000 households in 2009, with over half of those households earning $60,000 or less.Â By 2011, the number of losers climbs to more than 600,000 households and during the first five years this bill would raise total taxes on Iowans by more than $400 million.
And while the numbers are bad, this isnâ€™t just about numbers.Â This is also about fairness and the painfully twisted attempts to impose a state tax on income you use to pay federal income taxes â€“ money most Iowans never see or have an opportunity to use.Â A tax on a tax is wrong.
This is also about small businesses and jobs.Â The Democratsâ€™ tax plan specifically targets small businesses and imposes new tax burdens on the very small businesses that create the vast majority of new jobs in Iowa.Â How can anyone believe it is sound policy to raise taxes on our stateâ€™s most productive job creators during a time of severe economic stress?
Iowa Republicans will continue to fight this issue and fight it aggressively.Â We have at least one more week of hard work ahead of us as the Legislature prepares to pack up and go home at the end of next week.
Debate on this bill is scheduled for the Iowa House this Tuesday, April 14. Just two weeks ago the House Speaker booted over 600 Republicans from the House Chamber because he didnâ€™t like their vocal support of those speaking in opposition to this legislation.Â I am hearing that hundreds of Republicans are planning to be at the State Capitol on Tuesday to once again fill the balconies.Â Anyone interested in joining them is encouraged to get to the Capitol no later than 10 a.m. and to wear red shirts in protest.
Get to your forums this weekend.Â Keep up the pressure.Â Iowa Republicans ARE making a difference and the finish line is in sight.Â Letâ€™s stretch to the tape and put a dagger in the heart of this job-killing tax increase!
Final three Listen and Learn forums scheduled for next week.Â Take advantage of this opportunity to meet the leaders of your State Party.
Republicans in three more locations had the opportunity to meet with members of our State Party leadership team to discuss the future of our Republican Party as a part of my series of Listen and Learn forums.
In Grinnell, Ames, and Clear Lake nearly 150 Iowa Republicans gathered and participated in some spirited, informative, and very positive discussions.Â When I envisioned and then initiated this Listen and Learn tour I did so knowing the potential existed for some unpleasant dialogue as frustrated Republicans expressed anger over our recent lack of success.
However, what I and other State Party leaders have found as we embarked on this road trip was something completely different.Â Iowa Republicans have little interest in looking backward, in fighting about past failures or reliving past battles.Â Instead, Iowa Republicans came into those rooms full of optimism, energy, and new hope for Republican success in 2010.
Iowa Republicans are READY to partner with their State Party and local candidates to move our principled conservative agenda forward.Â They are ready to work together to elect new Republican majorities and send Governor Culver back to the classroom.
This coming week you still have three opportunities to meet with me and other State Party leaders at our final Listen and Learn forums.Â Check the schedule below and join us at an event near your home.
- 5th CD:Â Listen & Learn Forum 1
Hosted by Chairman Matt Strawn
When: Monday, April 13, 2009
Where: Anita Community Center, 805 Main St., Anita, IA 50020
Time: 6:30pm â€“ 8:00pm
- 5th CD:Â Listen & Learn Forum 2
Hosted by Co-Chairman Jim Kurtenbach & the BVU College Republicans
When: Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Where: Storm Lake, Buena Vista University Forum Room 1, 610 W. 4th St., Storm Lake, IA 50588
Time: 6:30pm â€“ 8:00pm
- 1st CD:Â Listen & Learn Forum
Hosted by Co-Chairman Jim Kurtenbach
When: Saturday, April 18, 2009
Where: Northeast Iowa Community College, 680 Main St., Dubuque, IA 52001
Time: 11:00 â€“ 12:30
Check out Iowa Press this Week as I discuss the future of the Republican Party of Iowa with some of Iowaâ€™s leading journalists.
Today I had the pleasure to represent Iowa Republicans and promote the renewal and resurgence of our party as a guest on Iowa Public Televisionâ€™s program, Iowa Press.Â The program will air at 7:30 p.m. tonight and at 11:30 a.m. this Sunday.
I hope you will have the opportunity to watch the program or to check it out on live streaming video by clicking here.
If you get a chance to watch the show, I would very much appreciate some feedback.Â As your State Chairman I endeavor to represent the State Party in a professional and positive manner.Â If you have a comment on the appearance, please send it to me at:Â [email protected].
Vacancy on State Central Committee in the First District to be filled at a special meeting of First District Executive Committee on Saturday, April 18.Â Any interested candidates are encouraged to contact our office for details.
It was with a heavy heart I recently accepted the resignation of Karl Gilberston as a member of the State Central Committee representing the First Congressional District.Â Karl has been fighting a serious medical battle and I ask you to keep him in your prayers.
As a result of his resignation, and per the State Party Constitution and By-laws, I have scheduled a meeting of the First District Executive Committee for April 18 in Dubuque.
Current members of the State Central Committee from the First District are John Hulsizer from Dubuque County and John Ortega from Scott County.
Anyone with an interest in pursuing this vacancy is encouraged to call Eric Johansen, our Political Director, at 515.282.8105 or email him at [email protected] for more information on the time, location, roster of voting delegates, and committee procedures.
If you have an interest in serving the Republican cause at this level, this is a great opportunity.
In the News
Income tax changes face heated debate
Pivotal political point seen in Statehouse tax tempest
Lawmakers wonâ€™t challenge ruling
U.S. Rep King:Â Statement on Obama amnesty plan
The Latham Report:Â GM Firing Should Raise Concerns of Government Power-Grab
Lee County Protesters throw a â€˜teaâ€™ party
FINAL REMINDER: Check Republican on Your Tax Form
Iowa’s political checkoff is a program that allows you to direct part of the taxes you’ve already paid to the political party of your choice.Â The program is very simple: When filing your Iowa tax return, simply mark the box next to “Republican Party” on Line 11 to give $1.50 to the Republican Party of Iowa.Â Doing this does not increase the amount you owe or decrease your return – the $1.50 comes out of the taxes you’ve already paid!
Grassroots Activist of the Week: Lee County GOP Tea Party Participants
This weekâ€™s Grassroots Activists of the Week are those awesome Lee County Republicans who participated in a wildly successful Tea Party held at Ft. Madisonâ€™s Riverview Park last Saturday.Â More than 150 people took part in the event and you can see the link to the story above.
While the Tea Party movement is not a partisan enterprise, Republicans from all across Iowa and the country are participating in this organic and spontaneous movementÂ to demonstrate their frustration with the direction Democrats are taking our nation and to show Americans that citizens can still make a difference in this country.
Thank you to the Lee County GOP for making your local event a huge success and for using that event as a springboard to reenergizing your local County Party.
(If you know someone deserving of being named our Grassroots Activist of the Week, please send a brief letter to [email protected] — we will keep your nomination anonymous if so desired.)
April 13:Â 5th District Listen and Learn Forum (1), Anita
April 14:Â 5th District Listen and Learn Forum (2), Storm Lake
April 18:Â 1st District Listen and Learn Forum, Dubuque
April 25:Â State Central Committee meeting, Waterloo
April 25:Â The Leon Mosley Roundup (a tribute to Leon Mosley), Waterloo
For updates and local events go to www.iowagop.org
Four New Ways to Stay in Touch With the IowaGOP
While RPI continues to solicit opinions and comments for overhauling our official website, www.iowagop.org, you can connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and IowaGOP the Blog! Click the preceding links for regularly updated news, commentary, and alerts from the Republican Party of Iowa. Have a news tip? Email them to [email protected] or call Eric at (515) 282-8105.