From the Iowa Legislature
Shutting down this session seems to be more difficult than had been expected. There are a few policy bills left to debate, so most of the attention this last week has been focused on the State budget. A couple parts of the budget are done, and will be sent to the Governor for his consideration and evaluation, but we have a lot of work to do before we adjourn and go home.
Most of the budget bills are in Conference Committee, or will be soon. On Wednesday night, the Education budget bill was passed and sent to the Governor. Hopefully, on Thursday, we will be able to finish the Justice System bill and send it down to the Governor as well. Those are two big bills, and it will be good to have them finished. The Agriculture and Natural Resources Conference Committee is struggling as well, but I hope we can finish that on Thursday too. Economic Development and Administration and Regulations are both pretty much agreed to and should not take long to pass. The Transportation budget bill, one of two bills I manage, is on the Governor's desk, so that leaves us with my other bill, the Infrastructure budget bill, the catch-all Standings bill and the massive Human Services budget bill yet to complete. These are difficult pieces of legislation, and will take some time to work through. That is why it is hard to predict when we will gavel out for the last time. There will also be a debt reduction bill which I have not yet seen.
Two of the Governor's priorities are still alive, but are running into a lot of resistance. We may pass some sort of anti-bullying bill, but if we do, it will be a weakened version of the original legislation. The broadband bill is also struggling to find support, and its fate is still up in the air. At this point in time, it would appear that lawmakers are running out of patience on some of this policy legislation, and some of it will finally be thrown overboard for this year, with hopes of consideration next year.
This is the time of the year when many students visit the Capitol. It is fun to watch them as they take the "official" guided tour. For the most part, they all seem to be in awe. First of all, just walking up to the building can be breathtaking. The center dome, after all, towers 275 feet above the ground. On the inside, there are 29 types of marble and 13 types of wood, plus, there are 1,471 steps. The Capitol was constructed between 1871 and 1886. It is hard to imagine that someone kept such accurate records, but 87,462 pounds of nails were used in the construction, and even more amazing is the fact that the total cost was around three million dollars. A final audit showed that all but about three dollars was accounted for. I am glad these students get to visit. For most, it will be their first and only trip to the Capitol.
Since this may be the final newsletter for the year, I want to express my thanks and appreciation for all of the calls, letters, and e-mails. It is an honor and privilege to serve as your Representative here in Des Moines, and I thank you all very much.
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.