Iowa legislature

Republicans Regroup

Nov 14, 2012

Republicans in the Iowa House re-elected their top leadership in a closed-door meeting  at the statehouse.     They’ll return to the capitol on January 14th with a far slimmer majority following the 2012

elections.

Iowa Department of Education

Iowa teachers would see their base pay bump if new recommendations from an education task force are put into place. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports.

At a time in our politics when every debate seems to be dominated by rancor and partisanship… retiring Representative Kurt Swaim of Bloomfield got up on the floor of the Iowa House last month and proclaimed his love for his colleagues, their staffs and the political system.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with Rep. Swaim and Representative Lance Horbach as they prepare to leave lawmaking behind.  He also speaks to Mike Glover, who recently retired as Senior Legislative and Political Correspondent for the Associated Press in Des Moines, about his long career covering Iowa politics.

History offers the benefit of hindsight. But New York Times Bestselling author Erik Larson tries to transport readers back in time, before the outcome of events was known.  In his latest book, In the Garden of Beasts he takes us to pre-war Berlin with the family of the first U.S. Ambassador to Nazi Germany, William E. Dodd.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with him about narrative non-fiction in advance of a visit to Des Moines.  And Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell tells us how close Iowa lawmakers may be to adjournment.

Funding for Iowa’s public universities is still up for debate at the statehouse. Join guest host Jonathan Ahl as we discuss a multi-million dollar budget gap between what Senate Democrats and House Republicans have proposed for higher education. Later in the conversation we’ll talk about government transparency and about the pros and cons of a longtime effort to create an Iowa Public Information Board.

As we enter the waning days of the legislative session, behind-the-scenes negotiations on the big issues remaining to be resolved begin in earnest.  Lawmakers have yet to agree on budget targets, education reform or commercial property tax relief.  But, how will upcoming elections impact those negotiations?  Host Joyce Russell  talks with Democratic and Republican leaders about the issues lawmakers want to take on the campaign trail this fall… and how that may impact debate over issues yet to be decided. 

Iowa law prevents school districts from starting classes before September first but the Iowa Department of Education routinely grants waivers. Join host Joyce Russell as we discuss a proposal in the Iowa House that would make it harder for schools to start in mid-August. School superintendents say it should be a local decision while the tourism industry says an early start date hurts business. Later, we’ll have a discussion about professionalizing direct care workers.

One of the top priorities heading into this year's legislative session was property tax reform. With scheduled adjournment only weeks away time is once again running out for lawmakers to act. Host Joyce Russell examines the long history of the property tax debate in Iowa, and the Democratic and Republican plans to fix the system. Among the guests- Democratic Senator Joe Bolkom from Iowa City, Republican Representative Tom Sands from Wapello and Des Moines City Manager Rick Clark.

Governor Terry Branstad has proposed sweeping reforms to Iowa’s education system and the debate is likely to intensify now that the Republican-controlled Iowa House has approved its reform package.  The measure now goes to the Democratically-controlled Iowa Senate.  Host Joyce Russell discusses topics ranging from third grade retention and online learning to new teacher probation and end of course exams on our next legislative show from the law library at the state capitol.

A flood bill making its way through the legislature would provide a sales tax rebate to communities to prevent future flooding. The bill is still alive despite Cedar Rapids residents, who were expected to benefit most from the legislation, voting down a sales tax extension designated for flood mitigation. Then, new owners of the “Field of Dreams” movie site in Dyersville want to build a softball and baseball complex on the property and are seeking state support.  We’ll discuss the project and why there’s some support and opposition to it.

States are forming health insurance exchanges in advance of a mandate from the federal government.  Host Joyce Russell talks about the bill to set up Iowa’s exchange.  Then, we talk about efforts to put further restrictions on synthetic marijuana, or K2.  That comes after a death, and several hospitalizations involving Iowa teenagers.

Iowa lawmakers are considering a bill to ban traffic cameras. Host Joyce Russell leads a discussion of the bill, which would give the eight Iowa cities now using cameras until July to remove them.  Local officials say cameras improve safety.  Critics say they violate privacy.  Guests include State Representative Walt Rogers, a Republican from Cedar Falls, Captain Steve O'Konek of the Cedar Rapids Police Department and Matt Lindholm a Des Moines attorney and Board Member of the Iowa Association for Justice.

Gun Rights advocates are back at the statehouse.  Host Joyce Russell talks with Representative Matt Windschitl and Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner about several bills expanding gun rights. They follow up on the 2010 law clearing the way for more weapons permits.  Also a compromise in the Iowa Senate over documenting practices at large scale livestock facilities.

Iowa lawmakers are getting ready to convene for the 2012 legislative session.  Statehouse Reporter Joyce Russell looks ahead to priorities of Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and House Speaker Pro Tempore Jeff Kauffmann.  Then we talk with Senator Herman Quirmbach and Representative Greg Forristall who Chair the Education committees of their chambers, and will oversee the Governor's education reform plans.  It's part of our weekly series from the Law Library at the Iowa Statehouse.

Iowa’s 85th General Assembly convenes in Des Moines at the state capitol Monday. We take this hour to check in with a few of the state’s representatives and senators and ask what is on their agendas for the 2012 session. In the first half, host Ben Kieffer speaks with Representatives Josh Byrnes from Osage and Tom Sands from Columbus Junction. Then in the second half, we'll hear from Senators Matt McCoy from Des Moines, Randy Feenstra from Hull and Rob Hogg from Cedar Rapids.

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