Iowa Politics — Week In Review, 2/26/17

A look at the past week at the happenings in the Hawkeye State

We Iowans don’t need to go to Washington, D.C. to see “crazy.” We’ve got our own crazy to take care of right now. Here’s a synopsis of some of the news items from this past week.

“Q-C area lawmakers on hot seat”

(Quad-City Times, 2/25/17)

Education spending, overhaul of the state’s collective bargaining law and changes to Iowa’s voting procedures took center stage Saturday at a legislative forum at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where more than 400 people crowded into a large meeting room, many with pointed questions for Republicans who now control the Iowa Statehouse.

Town hall meetings and legislative forums took place in home districts all over the state this past week, including one in Davenport. I’m personally happy to see people getting involved and speaking up, although I doubt these forums and town halls would be even half as contentious if Republican lawmakers had listened to their constituents in the first place.

“Branstad will remain eligible for state pension as U.S. ambassador”

(Quad-City Times, 2/26/17)

Branstad also will remain eligible to collect a state pension from his first stint as governor and time as lieutenant governor and a state legislator, a state official said. That pension, in recent years, has been valued at about $50,000, according to his tax returns.

It’s okay if you’re a Republican. That seems to be the message Gov. Branstad is communicating through his actions these past few weeks. While the governor, soon to be U.S. Ambassador to China, continues to be one of the highest-paid state employees, he will continue to collect a state pension worth about $50,000. Funny how a man who signed a bill taking away public worker rights doesn’t mind the benefits of being a public worker if it means money for his pocketbook.

“Voters challenge ‘frivolous’ bills moving through Statehouse”

(KCCI, 2/25/17)

“I was not in favor of this bill because of the impact it has on both state workers and teachers throughout the state of Iowa,” said state Rep. John Forbes, a Democrat from Polk County. “The governor talks about wanting to make sure we have a strong, rural Iowa, but how are we doing that by underfunding our schools here in the state?”

I don’t condone the yelling, screaming, and other disruptions at these town halls, but our legislators need to understand the frustrations of their constituents. It seems that a lot of the frustration stems from the fact that there was little public debate on the collective bargaining bill, and how quickly the bill was pushed through. I would think listening and compromise and conversation would be a good way to go right now, but state Republicans seem to be doing whatever they can to avoid talking with their constituents, and everything they can to talk with lobbyists.

“Lobbyist attending bargaining bill signing brings criticism”

(Des Moines Register, 2/20/17)

Pressed for the names of other lobbyists who attended the bill signing, Branstad said, “Oh, I don’t know. There may have been just a few. I don’t know who is a lobbyist to tell you the truth.” He added that most of those at the event were staff.
Branstad also said he had nothing to do with Klein’s presence, adding, “I really don’t even know him. So it is not that big a deal as far as I am concerned.”

What a load of mularky. One of the largest advocates for the collective bargaining bill, Americans for Prosperity, is one of the only people the public knows, for sure, who attended the non-public bill signing by the governor. This action by the governor speaks volumes, louder than any words, about who this bill was meant for.