Special Session Part VI

So in parts one through four of today’s special session blog postings, I did include the notes I took on computer while the House debated the veto override.  The Senate debated three times longer, and I was taking notes by hand (as explained earlier, no high-speed access on the Senate floor on press bench) — so I’m just going to post a few highlights.

Senator Jeff Lamberti (R-Ankeny) was in the president’s chair, so that meant Senate Co-Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Co Bluffs) called up the bill and Senator Keith Kreiman (D-Bloomfield) opened the debate (for those of you just tuning in — the senate is split 25/25 so a Republican sits in the president’s chair to make parliamentary rulings while a Democrat holds the power of leading floor debate).  Kreiman had prepared remarks, and unlike his Democratic colleagues in the House, he pretty much said the governor had erred when he made the veto.  Kreiman said he disagreed with Vilsack’s contentions that the bill will hurt job creation and impair cities’ ability to seize slum and blight properties.  Then Kreiman passed off to Senator Bob Brunkhorst (R-Waverly), who was brief (but we’ll get back to him later for the screaming part).

Senator Jack Hatch (D-DSM) then launched into a very long speech
outlining his objections to the bill.  Highlights include his
contention it will make it harder for cities to amass land so big
companies like Allied Nationwide can build a new headquarters
vertically in downtown Des Moines and instead those companies will
start gobbling up farmland on the outskirts of town — in the ‘burbs,
contributing to urban sprawl.  He also rejected the idea there are
bogeymen from city and state government preying on property owners.
Hatch contends cities will also find it difficult to step in and clean
up neighborhoods that are starting to drift downward, and will be
forced to wait ’til things get really slummy before they can start
acquiring property and cleaning the pimps and drug dealers out.  At
some point Hatch was making a point about farmland and incorrectly
suggested one uses a combine to plow.  The crowd tittered, and Hatch
responded, saying he knows you don’t plow with a combine.  It was a
light moment.

Senator David Miller (R-Fairfield) was next, and concise.  Miller
said talking about the statistics was fine until you became one of the
statistics.  Senator Stewart Iverson (R-Clarion) was next and revealed
some of his parent’s farmland was seized to build Interstate 35.
Iverson also said the bill wouldn’t hamper growth — lakes can still be
built to provide drinking water.  He laid out the basic tenant of
private property rights, and drew applause from the crowd when he
concluded (oops — the statehouse balcony crowd is not supposed to
react by clapping or booing).

Senator Herman Quirmbach (D-Ames) was next.  He gave a lecture about
the bill’s faults and how the override would be challenged in court.
Sign up for his class this fall for details.  (Quirmbach is an ISU

Senator Bill Dotzler (D-Waterloo) was next, and he among all the
senators directly spoke to the crowd.  He told an understandable
anecdote.  Dotzler worked on the John Deere line for 31 years, making
tractors.  He said none of the farmers sitting in the balcony would
have wanted him to sell them a tractor that had a part they weren’t
sure was going to work, so why should they override the veto and make
into law a bill they aren’t sure is going to work.

Gronstal was next and announced he was going to vote to override, a
surprise to reporters who had guessed he’d vote no because he’s been
floating all sorts of alternatives and warning that the whole deal will
wind up in court. 

Next, Senate Co-Leader Mary Lundby (R-Marion) talked about waiting
for 40 days and the governor never once raised an objection about the
bill with her until he vetoed it.  She said legislators weren’t
embarassing the governor, he was embarassing them by "galavanting
around this country and other countries" and not talking to legislators
about his concerns about the bill until it was too late — and they’d
put in months crafting the thing.  She also drew laughs from the crowd
— and laughed at herself — when she couldn’t remember which Biblical
character is connected to the 40 days and 40 nights story (it’s Noah,
not Moses as she suggested.) 

Her comments about the 40 day no-contact period raised the ire of
Hatch and Quirbach, both of whom had to speak again and tell her they
had been working with other people and the governor wasn’t AWOL, etc.
Most interesting that Gronstal didn’t stand up to defend his governor
from Lundby’s rhetorical sally about being away running for president.

Now, to closing remarks on the bill and Kreiman deferred to
Brunkhorst to make his closing statements and Brunkhorst got loud.
Brunkhorst said legislators should be proud of what they’re doing today
and rejected the idea it was a hollow victory — concluded that
paragraph with the declaration that this is a "dang good bill."  He
went on to get louder, saying the override was the legislature’s only
choice because the governor could have used a pocket veto if the
legislature today had re-passed teh same bill rather than voted to
override the House File Vilsack vetoed.  It’s an argument about
parliamentary technicalities.  If you need more background, email me.

Kreiman closed by praising the Iowans who put Democracy in action on
this, writing letters, showing up and talking face-to-face with
legislators about their concerns that cities and counties are running
roughshod over property owners on certain projects.  Kreiman told the
folks in the gallery it was their action that brought about today’s

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.