We are supposed to be done with the session, but we are not. In fact, I'm not sure when we will be able to finish. Sometimes I feel like we are getting close to an agreement on the budget, and then something goes wrong, and it is one step forward and two steps back. I believe we all agree on the size of the pie...it is just trying to figure out what each individual slice will look like that slows things down. When the last piece of the puzzle finally falls into place, things will move like a freight train, and we will go home. Let's hope that train leaves the station soon.
There really hasn't been a lot of floor action this week, although we are tying up some loose ends on the policy bills. Bills are bouncing back and forth between the chambers, so when they do land, we deal with them quickly and send them to the Governor.
The last budget bill to clear the House passed Wednesday night. The Health and Human Services bill is the biggest budget measure we do, so as you might imagine, there is a lot of interest in this legislation. This bill was ready to run a month ago, but hit a few snags and therefore was removed from the debate calendar. We did finally get enough votes to pass it, and did make some needed improvements. This budget funds literally hundreds of programs and is very complicated, and grows and grows year after year. It is now the biggest budget bill, finally surpassing education for the number one spot. I truly doubt that Health and Human Services will ever relinquish its number one ranking.
On Monday, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey reminded eligible farm owners that the deadline to apply for the 2012 Century and Heritage Farm Program is June 1, 2012. The ceremony to recognize the 2012 Century and Heritage Farms will be held at the Iowa State Fair on Tuesday, August 14th. The program recognizes families that have owned their farm for 100 years in the case of Century Farms and 150 years for Heritage Farms. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and the Iowa Farm Bureau sponsor the award.
Applications are available on the Department's website at www.IowaAgriculture.gov by clicking on the Century Farm or Heritage Farm link under "Hot Topics." Applications may also be requested from Becky Lorenz, Coordinator of the Century and Heritage Farm Program via phone at 515-281-3645, email at Becky.Lorenz@IowaAgriculture.gov or by writing to Century or Heritage Farms Program, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Henry A. Wallace Building, 502 E. 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50319. Farm families seeking to be recognized this year must submit an application to the Department no later than June 1, 2012. The Century Farm program began in 1976 as part of the Nation's Bicentennial Celebration and over 17,000 farms from across the state have received this recognition. The Heritage Farm program was started in 2006, on the 30th anniversary of the Century Farm program, and more than 500 farms have been recognized. Last year 341 Century Farms and 56 Heritage Farms were recognized.
You may reach me at the Capitol during the week by phoning me at 515-281-3221, or at home on weekends at 712-434-5880. You may write me at the State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. My home address is P.O. Box 398, Aurelia, Iowa 51005. If you have email, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.