Loebsack fundraisers in the “new” second district

Wagons are already circling — way before the state legislature takes a vote on a reapportioned map of Iowa’s congresional districts (as well as districts for Iowa House and Senate seats).

As you may recall, the first map unveiled last week would pit two Democratic congressmen (Bruce Braley of Waterloo & Dave Loebsack of Mount Vernon) in the new firt congressional district.

Senator Tom Harkin & Congressman Bruce Braley are co-hosting a fundraiser for Congressman Dave Loebsack in the middle of May….in Scott County.  Scott County is currently in Braley’s first congressional district, but Scott County would be in Iowa’s new second congressional district if legislators approve the redistricting plan.  (Loebsack is likely to move into Johnson County/the Iowa City area — which is in the newly-proposed second district — to avoid a head-to-head match-up with Braley.)

Congressman Leonard Boswell also has agreed to host a fundraiser for Loebsack in…wait for it…Jasper County.  Jasper is in the current third congressional district, which Boswell now represents, but it will be in the new second congressional district if the redistricting plan is approved. 

Eric Witte, an aide to Loebsack, says these two fundraisers should erase “any doubt about people’s efforts to help Loebsack in the new Second CD should the map pass…Both Scott and Jasper are in the new 2nd CD as are 14 of the 15 counties Dave currently represents.”

King statement on redistricting

See headline above.  Read written statement below.  King also talked by phone with Radio Iowa.  Read what he had to say here and here.

King Statement on Congressional Redistricting Map

Washington D.C.- Congressman Steve King (R-IA) released the following statement regarding the proposed congressional redistricting map that was revealed this morning.

“Today, Iowans got a first look at what our state’s congressional map may look like for the next ten years. Ultimately, it will be up to the legislature and the Governor to decide. I chaired the State Government Committee in the Iowa Senate ten years ago and managed the bill. I know that our legislature will work hard to ensure Iowans get the best representation possible in Congress and the General Assembly. It remains a privilege to serve the Fifth District in Congress, and I look forward to continuing my work in Congress in 2012 and beyond.”

Iowa Democrats issue statements on redistricting

See headline above. Read news releases below.


“Regardless of any map that may be approved by the Legislature, Republicans can’t run from their terrible record punishing Iowa’s middle class.

From taking away the rights of police officers and teachers to divisive social issues to ending successful job creation efforts for main street businesses, the Republicans’ extreme agenda shows they are out of touch with Iowa families.”

Statement by Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal
on redistricting map released today

DES MOINES  — “We intend to take our time reviewing the first map to ensure that it meets all the constitutional and legal requirements.

“No map is going to hide the fact that Republicans have turned their backs on middle-class Iowans.
“Republicans have shown their true agenda by voting to take away workers’ rights, slash the state’s commitment to basic education funding, reduce funding for successful job-creation efforts, and set up a slush fund to provide lavish tax cuts to out-of-state corporations and super-wealthy Iowans.

“Once a new map is approved, Democrats are ready to regain control of the Iowa House and expand our majority in the Iowa Senate.”

IDP Statement on First Redistricting Proposal

DES MOINES – Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky released the following statement after the Legislative Services Agency (LSA) released their first redistricting proposal:

“No change in district boundaries can hide the Republican record and their abandonment of campaign promises this session. In 2012, when candidates are running for the first time in the new districts approved by the legislature, Republicans will be forced to explain why they have pushed an overreaching, radical agenda instead of joining Democrats in working to create jobs and strengthen our economy.

“Democrats will be able to highlight their commitment to protecting middle class Iowans in any district across the state.

“Iowa is fortunate to have a nonpartisan redistricting process that serves as a national model. We thank the Legislative Services Agency for their continued work as the redistricting process continues.”

Latham statement

The new redistricting plan would pit Republican Congressman Tom Latham of Ames against Republican Congressman Steve King of Kiron.  Latham is not granting interviews today.  He released a written statement:

“Iowans are lucky to have what is widely regarded as one of the fairest redistricting processes in the country governing how the new congressional districts will be drawn.  I know that the members of the Legislature will keep the best interests of the people of Iowa at heart as they move forward with the next steps of this redistricting process.  I am honored to represent the good people of Iowa in the United States Congress, and, regardless of the specifics of the final map, I will continue to work on behalf of the interest of all Iowans.”

The kilt and other items

The rookie senator known as “Chicken Man” on RAGBRAI dressed in a kilt today to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  The Iowa Senate, as you may know, has a dress code which requires men to wear suitcoats and ties.  I’m not sure if it specifies pants are to be paired with the coats and ties, although the code does forbid the wearing of  jeans.  Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, gaveled the Senate to order this morning, and singled out Senator Mark Chelgren’s kilt for special mention. 

“We’re on the edge of some of our Senate rules this morning,” Kibbie joked.

Two senators performed “Oh Danny Boy” as the first order of senate business.  Senator Merlin Bartz sang it; Senator Joe Seng accompanied on his accordion.  Listen to their rendition here.

The House opened its day with “Oh Danny Boy” too — sung by former State Representative Dan Boddicker, who used to sing it when he was a member of the House.  He was invited back for today’s return engagement. 

There was a variety food available in both the House and Senate today to celebrate the holiday. Kibbie — the Senate president — and his wife, Kay, bought over 12 dozen green apples to contribute to the buffet.

“They were delivered by an Irishman from Hy-Vee,” Kibbie quipped.

A Tuesday night potpourri

I’ve been “away” from the blog for a few days.  Here are some of the stories, events, happenings I should have/could have blogged about:

Babies:  Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R-Council Bluffs) and his wife, Zola, have a new son — Jacob Isaac.  State Senator Roby Smith (R-Davenport) and his wife have a new daughter — Natalie Ruth.

Baby kissers: Former Arkansas Governor Huckabee is “trying to be smarter” about 2012.  President Obama has named Iowa Governor Terry Branstad co-chair of Council of Governors.  Branstad has named former state legislator Libby Jacobs to be chair of the Iowa Utilities Board.  Branstad has named another former state legislator, Jeff Lamberti (the business partner of Iowa GOP Chair Matt Strawn), to the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission.  And Branstad wants his #1 campaign fundraiser to serve on the Board of Regents.  Governor Culver appointed Ruth Harkin (wife of US Senator Tom Harkin) and Bonnie Campbell (former Iowa Attorney General, Branstad’s Democratic opponent in 1994) to the Board of Regents during his term, and Democrats in the Iowa Senate foresee Bruce Rastetter will be confirmed to the Board, too.   Which Minnesotan — Bachmann or Pawlenty — would win Minnesota’s Caucuses on February 7?  Branstad talked with David Chalian of PBS about the field of potential GOP presidential candidates.  A HuffPo story jokes that Iowa’s Caucuses may be held on Halloween.  Newt Gingrich has signed up to speak at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event next week.  The Gingrich camp is giving mixed signals.

[Read more…]

Eastern Iowa lawmaker to lead national women’s group

An eastern Iowa legislator will lead the National Foundation for Women Legislators in the next year.  Read the details below:


Des Moines – Iowa State Senator Swati Dandekar (D-District 18) will be installed as Chair of the National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL) at the Statehouse on Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 3:00pm.

Iowa’s elected leaders from both chambers of the legislature will join together for the formal swearing-in ceremony that will be led by NFWL President & CEO, Robin Read, and leadership from the Senate and House, as their colleague is installed as the Foundation’s newest leader.

Dandekar will also serve as President of the National Order of Women Legislators (NOWL), the membership arm of NFWL, which was founded in 1938.

“Senator Dandekar is an exemplary and impassioned leader,” Read stated.  “As she takes the helm of the Executive Committee she will be an incredible asset to the growth of the Foundation. I am confident that with her commitment to creating higher standards for public schools, re-energizing local economies through innovative community and state initiatives, investment in strengthening telecommunications, developing clean and renewable energy technologies, and access to healthcare, this will be one of the most exciting and productive years that NFWL has seen,” continued Read.

“Working with the NFWL has been one of the most valuable experiences of my entire legislative career,” Dandekar said. “I have been honored to call these women my friends and colleagues, and it is a privilege to have the opportunity to serve as their leader.”

“NFWL clearly demonstrates what can be accomplished when we put aside all the things that so often divide us and instead focus on networking our resources to really bring about immediate and positive results,” Dandekar stated. “This is a unique fellowship that broadens our horizons, not just as women, but as people who have a calling and a responsibility to be leaders in our communities.”

Dandekar was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2008, after serving in the Iowa House of Representatives since 2002.   She is the currently Chair of the Commerce Committee and Vice-Chair of the Economic Development Budget Subcommittee. She also serves on the Economic Growth, Transportation, Ways & Means and International Relations Committees.

Elected women from across the nation gathered at NFWL’s Annual Conference in Orlando, FL this past November to identify effective solutions to some of the nation’s most pressing issues.  Providing a non-partisan environment that encourages dialogue and information-sharing, legislators are able to build coalitions, share the concerns of their constituents, and highlight initiatives that have been successful within their own state at this annual event.

NFWL’s 2011 Annual Conference will take place this fall at a location to be named shortly.

About the National Foundation For Women Legislators, Inc. (NFWL)
Through annual educational and networking events, the National Foundation for Women Legislators supports elected women from all levels of governance.   As a non-profit, non-partisan organization, NFWL does not take ideological positions on public policy issues, but rather serves as a forum for women legislators to be empowered through information and experience.  

Haley Barbour making the rounds in Iowa (audio)

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is at the statehouse at this hour, making the rounds as they say.  He’s met with Iowa’s Republican state auditor, secretary of state and governor, as well as several House Republicans.  After a visit with Governor Branstad, Barbour chatted with the media about his timeline for a decision on running for president.

“There’s a lot that enters into it,” Barbour said. “I have been political director of the White House under Ronald Reagan and I understand what I’m getting into.  I’m 63 years old and this is a 10 year commitment if you run and get elected, you’re commiting yourself for reelection and so you’ve got to be prepared for a 10 year commitment and that’s the majority of  the rest of my productive life and you have to decide am I willing to take on the most consuming job in the world, which the presidency is, and I have to see if I have the fire in the belly and the willingness, to the exclusion of all other things, to take that on.”

Barbour said he won’t make a decision until April “once the legislature’s finished and we’ve got my budget is adopted. I don’t believe in running for the next job until I finish the job I’ve got and that’s why my timing is April.”

I asked: What in your resume screams president?

Barbour said: “You know, governor is the job in the United States and in the world that is the closest job to being president.”  Barbour expressed a willingness to deal with reducing “entitlement” spending, and he specifically mentioned farm subsidies and defense spending as part of that.

UPDATE — listen to the 7 and a half minute exchange with reporters  HaleyBarbour

UPDATE:  read the Radio Iowa story with more details of Barbour’s day.

Committee debate on competing income tax cuts

Shortly before six o’clock, the Iowa House Ways & Means Committee convened to consider HF 4, a bill that would reduce Iowans personal income taxes by 20 percent across-the-board. 

“(The bill is) relatively simple…but the economic ramifications are beneficial and dramatic and, at the end of the day, it will spur, I’m sure,  a vigorous philosophical discussion,” Rep. Erik Helland (R-Johnson) said to open the discussion.  “…It provides tax relief to over 1.2 million (Iowans) and over 100,000 businesses.  I think at the end of the day all of us agree we’d like Iowans to keep more of their hard-earned dollars and this is a step in that direction and a step towards putting Iowans back to work.”

Representative Dave Jacoby, a Democrat from Coralville, proposed a different tactic. “I’m excited about the idea (of this bill)…I think it would provide some tax relief to those most in need and those across-the-board,” Jacoby said.  “When we start having discussions later about bills and taxes that will affect pockets of people, this bill will affect everyone.”

Jacoby proposed an alternative that would cut taxes for those who earn $250,000 or more annually by five percent.  Those who earn between $250,000 and $20,000 a year would see their taxes cut by 40 percent.  Those who earn less than $20,000 would get a five percent cut under his plan (many income-earners in this category do not wind up owing state income taxes because of the earned income credit).

At this point Republicans and Democrats decided to meet privately to discuss the proposals, so Demorats went to a room across the hall and Republicans stayed in the committee room.  Reporters like yours truly and other observers (lobbyists) stood in the demilitarized zone, er, hallway while the private meetings/caucuses were held.

At about 10 after six the committee returned to open session to consider the Jacoby proposal. 

Helland spoke against Jacoby’s proposal.  He criticized the move to limit tax relief to five percent for those above $250,000 and target the cut to middle income Iowans, saying it would “peel tax relief away from small businesses…This proposal ends up hurting Iowans who need our help right now,” Helland said.

Jacoby countered that his proposal “targets truly small businesspeople” who are “just getting their feet wet” by starting a business in their garage or basement.  “It helps push people toward their dream of owning their own business or starting their own business,” he said.

Jacoby’s proposal failed on a party-line vote, 10-14. 

[Read more…]

Iowa First? Florida update

As you may recall Florida was one of the states which moved its primary up in 2008.  In the spring of 2007, the Republican-led Florida legislature voted to set the date of January 29, 2008 for that state’s primary.  This violated party rules which premitted only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina to hold voting before February 5, 2008. 

Fast-forward through a lot of history: the ultimate result was Iowa’s Caucuses were held in January 3, 2008. 

The new chairman of the Republican National Committee is in Florida today and he’s urged that state’s legislature to refrain from trying to move the state’s primary ahead in 2012.