Senate Candidates Debate Water Quality

May 27, 2016

The four candidates competing to be the Iowa Democratic Party's nominee for the U.S. Senate are offering different views on how best to resolve water quality concerns.  The four Democrats appeared on Iowa Public Television for an hour last night in the only statewide forum that will be televised before the June 7th Primary. They were asked about the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit challenging how farm chemical run-off is handled in three northwest Iowa counties. Former Iowa Ag Secretary Patty Judge says water quality "has to be addressed now" throughout the country. Judge supports increasing the state sales tax a fraction to finance "extensive" on-the-farm conservation practices here. "That's the way to go," Judge says. "...and I was very disappointed that that did not pass the Iowa Legislature this year."  Former state Senator Tom Fiegen of Clarence disagrees.  "The taxpayers of Iowa should not have sales tax raised to bribe the polluters," Fiegen says.  Fiegen says U.S. farmers shouldn't get federal payments if their farm chemicals are polluting waterways nearby. Rob Hogg, a state senator from Cedar Rapids, says Fiegen just wants to blame farmers, while Judge just wants to blame the Des Moines Water Works. "I'm the only person in this race who has united farmers, environmentalists, business leaders and cities to work together," Hogg says.  Bob Krause of Fairfield, a former state legislator, says it's time for a national solution.  "Tie the Clean Water requirements that we need to the right to get federal crop insurance," Krause says. All the candidates agree the federal minimum wage should be raised and they believe the federal government should make marijuana legal for medical use in all 50 states. Kay Henderson is the News Director of Radio Iowa