This was a productive week at the Capitol. I floor-managed two bills, one removing barriers to cancer clinical trial participation which I discussed in the last update and the second reforming how lobbyists and their clients disclose their activity. Both bills passed without a dissenting vote. The House also voted down an amendment that would limit the hours of debate on the floor. I voted no on the "beauty rest" amendment for two reasons; I think Iowans expect us to one, fully debate matters before the House and two, stay long hours if need be to get the people’s work done.
In This Issue
1. Lobbying Disclosure Reform Clears the Iowa House
2. Governor Proposes Changes to Early Childhood Education
3. Governor Releases Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Recommendations
4. Capitol Visits
5. Coming Attractions
Lobbying Disclosure Reform Clears the Iowa House
In response to an ethics complaint in the summer of 2009, I floor-managed legislation that passed the Iowa House on Tuesday designed to clamp down on lobbyists and their clients. The legislation increases the accuracy of the lobbying activity information collected, puts it in a form easily searched by Iowans, and gives the House Ethics Committee jurisdiction over lobbying clients instead of just the lobbyists themselves.
The online database gives Iowans a clear picture of how much an organization is spending to influence particular pieces of legislation. It also shows who is sponsoring receptions for legislators and how much they are spending. I encourage you to check out the information already collected by clicking here.
Governor Proposes Changes to Early Childhood Education
Many of you contacted me recently responding to the Governor’s proposal to move a piece of early childhood education, Empowerment, under the control of the Department of Education. Empowerment consists of actual early childhood education, but it is also much more. Specifically there are public health, human service, and transportation aspects of the program which make sure the whole child is ready for kindergarten. Studies show very successful outcomes for children that have access to these resources compared to those that do not.
I share folks’ skepticism about moving Empowerment under the Department of Education (DOE) and am working through alternative scenarios. Should the program ultimately move to DOE, however, there are two strengths that must be maintained: local control of funding decisions and focus on public health and human service aspects of the program. The move may also yield some benefit if a stable funding source is found. Details of how Empowerment is administered within DOE will also be important to gain my support.
I appreciate all the input you have sent about the issue and feel free to contact me with updates.
Governor Releases Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Recommendations
The Governor released his Fiscal Year 2011 budget recommendations on Thursday. While the recommendations serve as a guide in some of the Legislature’s budget discussions, we basically start from scratch to determine how to fund priorities. Two pieces of policy I discussed in the last update, government reorganization and changes to tax credits appear in the Governor’s budget. The Legislature continues to move forward on those items, with final budget numbers contingent on the amount of savings we can realize from the final version of those bills. The next two or three weeks will see each budget subcommittee in the House and Senate receive targets for their spending and the process will move forward from there.
Pat Baird, in his role as Vice Chair of the IJOBS Board, spoke to the House Rebuild Iowa Committee on Monday about the projects receiving funding during the last year. Tuesday I spoke with Doug Elliott about regional government issues and Wendy Barth about numerous topics including payday lending, campaign finance, and lobbying disclosure reform. Gail Naughton with the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library, Jim Ernst with Four Oaks and City Councilmember Kris Gulick visited the Capitol on Wednesday. I also spoke at a Young Lawyers Division legislative leadership academy organized by Matt Hektoen. Judy Stalkfleet visited Des Moines Thursday in her role as chair of the Older Iowans Legislature.
If you visit the Capitol, make sure to send a note into the House so I can say hello. If I am not sitting at my desk Janny, my legislative clerk, can track me down.
"Third Grade Clay" is an annual exhibit offered by the Cedar Rapids Community Schools and is always a treat. The exhibit involves every Third Grader in the Cedar Rapids Community School District and showcases their clay artwork. The exhibit includes tiles and bowls and animals and dinosaurs, cute, colorful cars, wall hangings and much more. Come see the work of your favorite Third Grader, or simply show up to support young artists. The exhibit is open every day from 3PM to 5PM at the Cone Gallery and Eaton-Buchan Gallery of Sinclair Auditorium on the Coe College campus (1220 First Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids). Admission is free and more information is available through (319) 399-8581.
Kahraman Dance, an off shoot of Kahraman Near East Dance Ensemble, features movement and dance classes for adults. The new eight-week session has just begun and all are invited to come try your first class before you register! The group offers Beginning Bellydance on Tuesdays from 6PM to 7PM and Saturday mornings from 9:45AM to 10:45AM. Also, the group offers Folkloric lessons Monday and Tuesday from 7PM to 8PM and Continuing Arabic Dance Classes Monday and Tuesday from 8PM to 9:30PM. All classes now take place at City Ballet (700 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City). The group now also offers classes in Cedar Rapids and Fairfield. Your first class is free. Registration and information is available through (319) 354-9638.
Have a great week!