Friday, February 27, 2009

Around the Capitol This Week

Senator Tim Kapucian with Center Point Urbana High School FCCLA students.

Senator Kim Reynolds visits with Americorps volunteers.

Senate Page Mia Kornelis and Senator Randy Feenstra.

Republican Leader Paul McKinley with Dr. Gary Runyon of Corydon.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bicyclists in Rearview Mirror May be Going Faster Than They Appear

Today one issue took up the majority of the day in the Senate: Bill #117 or the Bicylists Bill. We are all about sharing the road for our recreation-loving bike friends but the bill is a bit much. It offers cyclists extra protection from motor vehicle operators but Senate Republicans argued today that the protection offered puts drivers at a disadvantage and in some cases doesn't go far enough.

Senate Republicans offered nine amendments to truly improve the bills but all failed. Among the amendments:
-Requiring cyclists to attach flags to their bikes so drivers and farm machinery operators can see them.
-Exempting municipalities from being held liable from cycling accidents. (anyone remember what happened with RAGBRAI and Crawford County?)
-Changing the cycling hand signals so they are easier to decipher.

The overall bill gives cyclists five feet surrounding them at all times (even if they ride three wide) so passing them on county roads might become pretty trecherous. And watch out if you're driving farm equipment and meet one coming over a hill. Motorists must now sound their horn if they think a bike is near and they want to turn a corner. Drivers must also not open their car doors into oncoming traffic if they think cyclists are near "unless it is reasonably safe."

This bill just happened to deter everyone today as the Democrats finally released their budget numbers for the year. This distraction won't last long as those budget numbers will be seen for what they really are: a fiscal fiasco that could have been avoided over the last two years.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Allowable Growth Passes in Senate at 2%

On Tuesday, February 24, the Iowa Senate passed SF 218, most commonly referred to as allowable growth, with 32 Democrats in favor of the bill and 18 Republicans opposed. The bill sets the allowable growth rate for the 2011-2012 school year at 2 percent.

During a budget year when all areas of government are being asked to cut spending, this bill will essentially allow Iowa’s K-12 public school districts to increase their budgets by 2 percent for fiscal year 2011. Under 2 percent “allowable growth,” per-pupil funding will increase by $115 to $5883.

School funding is based on a combination of state aid and property taxes. Two percent allowable growth will provide almost $3.7 billion in total funding for schools. Of that amount, roughly $2.4 billion will come from the state, and $1.3 billion will come from local property taxes. As families are being forced to re-examine their personal budgets and tighten their belts, this bill will increase property taxes by nearly $60 million compared to the amount established for the 2010-2011 school year. While there is never a good time to increase taxes, it is abundantly clear that now is an especially bad time.

Additionally, it is still unclear how the state will pay for a 4 percent increase in funding for schools next year, let alone another increase two years from now. The Governor has even recommended that funding be cut from next year’s K-12 budget, thereby placing the burden of his party’s excessive spending habits on local school districts and taxpayers to fill the inevitable gap. It is irresponsible to allocate additional dollars for fiscal year 2011 when we have not yet fixed the current fiscal year nor begun serious work on next year’s budget shortfall.

It was excessive spending on the part of the majority party that got our state into this financial crisis in the first place. Rather than possibly forcing schools to decide between making deep cuts to their budgets or raising taxes, the responsible approach would be to require schools to maintain a status quo budget for now, as it is always easier to appropriate additional dollars in the future if it is economically viable to do so.

Had the governor and legislative Democrats not spent nearly a billion dollars during the last two years and driven up hundreds of millions of dollars in self-inflicted deficits, it would be more feasible to permit additional allowable growth. Had the governor and legislative Democrats done a better job controlling spending and keeping government within its means, there would be more money available for top priorities like education.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Popular Vote Bill Gets a # (SF 227)

Read the bill's details here:

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bill Disenfranchises Iowa Voters

A bill was just pushed out of the Senate State Government Committee that would, if passed, essentially silence millions of Iowa voters’ voices. Senate Study Bill 1128 is more commonly referred to as the Popular Vote Bill and it guarantees the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most votes in all 50 states. It would turn all of Iowa’s Electoral College votes into popular votes automatically. Iowa's votes would turn into East Coast votes.

The fact that this idea is even being entertained is ridiculous. Iowa has worked hard to be the first in the nation caucuses and retain our independent voting spirit. This bill would throw it all out the window. Candidates would spend less time, money and effort on Iowa making the Iowa Caucuses irrelevant. Why would Iowans even care if the candidates don't stop here?

This is being billed as an effort to save states money and energy in polling and advertising, but this bill will make millions of Iowa votes null and void. It silences millions of Iowa voices and it is amazing that Democrats think this bill gives Iowa a bigger voice.

Iowa has 7 Electoral College votes and has had the first in the nation caucuses since 1972.

Let your voice be heard. Every vote counts. Contact your senator at 515-281-3371 or via e-mail: Sign the petition against this bill at