Friday, February 6, 2009

Seen Around the Capitol This Week

Senator Reynolds talking with Jim Parker of the Golden Hills RCD.

Senator Feenstra talking with staffer Jim Friedrich.

Senator Boettger with her grandaughter.

Senator Noble with his intern, Nick Hinckle.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

RIO Redecorates & Lottery Still on the Table

The Rebuild Iowa Office has come under fire recently for, among other things, paying $19,000 in new carpet for their office.
RIO’s Chief of Staff says that “the little $3 million our office is using or the little 3 percent of CDBG funds (Community Development Block Grant), I don’t think your average Iowan sees that as an issue.”

Since when is $3 million a "little" and not an issue? Tell that to the people still living in FEMA trailers.

And as you may have herd – nothing ever dies at the Capitol. This includes the idea of selling Iowa’s assets. Some lawmakers are hell-bent on selling our lottery for quick cash. Maybe Democrats should address their addiction to spending before selling their revenue source.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Turning Teachers Into Food Police

The Healthy Kids Act or House File 2279 passed by the legislature and was signed into law by the Governor last year. This act will create undo stress on our schools if implemented next school year. All but one Senate Republican voted against the bill and many people are calling upon the Department of Education to seriously consider what schools should spend their time and resources concentrating upon: student achievement or the lunch menu.

Iowa schools need to concentrate on teaching children rather than being the food police. This is a local control issue, and should be left to the discretion of the district. Many principals are outraged by the act and say it is too vague and has no accountability.

The bill requires students in grades 6-12 to complete 120 minutes of physical activity a week and kindergarten-5 graders must complete 30 minutes of physical activity a day. There are no stipulations as to what constitutes physical activity and students may participate in extra curricular activities, which are not monitored, to complete the requirement. As of right now, band and show choir would qualify under physical activities.

A lot of time has been spent talking about how Iowa’s education system is slipping in the national ranks and how we need to get Iowa kids sufficiently educated so they can compete in a global marketplace. This bill is drawing attention away from instructional time in the classroom and into the cafeteria.

The price of school lunches will increase as the strict nutritional standards recommended by the Healthy Kids Task Force will force the cost of the average school lunch to increase by 36 cents. Schools will be forced to pass the increased cost to the family. This is yet another demonstration of the Democrats' willingness to increase the cost of living in Iowa.

The Department of Education must make a decision regarding the rules of the Healthy Kids Act by June 2009. Educators are left wondering how they will implement the guidelines, hold students accountable and what happened to the emphasis on reading, writing and arithmetic.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Assault on Right-to-Work, Round Two

Democrats are once again renewing their assault on Iowa’s status as a right-to-work state by reviving the so called “fair share” issue that died in the 2007 legislative session. That bill passed the Senate but was never considered in the House after it became clear that Democrats didn’t have the votes to pass it. This week, Governor Culver appears ready to file an executive branch bill in an effort to change the law. Word on the street is that he’s already talked to the unions and had his team do the research and write the bill. They’re just waiting to file it.

According to reports, this bill will apply to all employees in a union shop both public and private, and will actually include a repeal of part of Iowa’s right-to-work law. According to a poll by the respected Research 2000 firm, Iowans support right-to-work by 78%. And according to the Des Moines Register, only about 10-12% of Iowa workers are in a union.

Proponents of “fair share” make the claim that if a union negotiates with an employer for wages and benefits for all employees then it is only fair that all employees get charged for this service, even those that don’t belong to the union. This is a red herring and unions are not, in fact, forced to negotiate for all employees, they must only do so when they become the “exclusive bargaining unit.” This status must be applied for and is not required. Almost all unions choose to apply for exclusive status because of the advantage it gives them at the bargaining table. Thus they are only required to represent all employees in return for this advantage, which is really only fair.

This latest effort is a bold attempt at forced unionization and an outright repeal of right-to-work. If Democrats succeed in this effort they will be able to use dues from non-union members to pursue their legislative agenda. The result will be an increase in the already undue influence over elected officials wielded by union organizers. This will also be a huge turn-off for potential employers looking to set up shop in Iowa and that is the last thing the state needs right now.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Shell Game

The shell game that is the Governor’s budget continues and you can bet your bottom dollar that Iowans will see property tax increases in the very very near future. Thank you, Governor Culver. This is reading between the lines as well as seeing the writing on the wall. The Governor’s budget clearly outlines cutting $49.9 million in reimbursements from the Homestead Property Tax credit. The Department of Revenue wants $139.1 for FY 2010. How in the world will an $89.2 million difference be made up? Well property tax increases, of course.

The governor’s budget has a 6.5% cut in it, but remember, government has grown overall the last few years so the cut isn’t as deep as you may think. Stay tuned for more….

Groundhog Day

Punxsutawney Phil Sees shadow: Democrats to continue spending.