Listen to the new House leaders for 2011

House Speaker-elect Kraig Paulsen and House Majority Leader-elect Linda Upmeyer held a news conference late this morning at the statehouse.  Listen here.

Cutting the current year’s state budget is priority #1 for House Republicans.  Paulsen says they’ll have to crunch the numbers, but he’s aiming for “hundreds of millions” in cuts.  Democrats appear to be holding a slim 26-23 majority in the Iowa Senate, so it’s unclear whether a “deappropriations” bill would clear both the House and Senate.  Therefore, if Republican Governor-elect Terry Branstad wants to pare the current year’s state budget, he may be forced to issue an executive order making an across-the-board cut.

Upmeyer also talked about being the first woman elected as a floor leader in the Iowa House. 

[Read more…]

Corn PAC endorsements

The Iowa Corn Growers Association’s PAC has made 66 candidate endorsements.  The group endorsed both major party candidates running for governor, along with all five incumbents in Iowa’s congressional delegation. 

Read the ICGA’s news release below:

Iowa Corn Growers Association Announces Corn PAC Awards

Johnston, IA, September 1, 2010  –  Today, the Iowa Corn Growers Association  Political Action Committee (ICGA PAC) endorsed 66 candidates for the November 2010 elections, including 57 candidates for the Iowa State Senate and the Iowa House of Representatives.

The ICGA PAC established bipartisan support for Democrats and Republicans for the 2010 state and federal races, including 33 Democrats and 33 Republicans.
“Political decisions here in Iowa are critical to the future of farming,” said Bruce Rohwer, PAC chair. “PAC support is one tool we can use to help elect people who have supported corn growers’ policies and who have taken action on issues that matter to corn growers.”

ICGA PAC decisions are made through an objective analysis including candidate responses to our survey, voting records, letters and other quantified evidence of support.  The ICGA PAC committee members include farmers from across Iowa, with an equal balance of party affiliation to ensure decisions are based only on corn growers’ policies.

Endorsements for the 2010 federal election cycle include:
• Senator Grassley (R)
• Congressman Boswell (D)
• Congressman Braley (D)
• Congressman King (R)
• Congressman Latham (R)
• Congressman Loebsack (D)

The Iowa Corn Growers Political Action Committee (PAC) has endorsed both Terry Branstad (R) and Chet Culver (D) for the 2010 State of Iowa, Governor’s Race.

The Iowa Corn Growers PAC is also endorsing Bill Northey (R) for the 2010 Iowa Secretary of Agriculture race.

The Iowa Corn PAC endorsed 57 candidates for the Iowa State Senate and the Iowa House of Representatives for the 2010 election cycle.

[Read more…]

Iowa Farm Bureau endorses five Republicans

The Iowa Farm Bureau’s political action committee has made its endorsements for the fall election.  Read the release below.

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – Aug. 17, 2010 – The Iowa Farm Bureau Political Action Committee (PAC) has named its selections for the 2010 Friends of Agriculture endorsement. Candidates seeking state and national offices this fall have earned endorsement by the state’s largest grassroots farm organization based on their support of agriculture, voting record and support for Iowa’s rural communities.
“Friends of Agriculture designations are carefully chosen for demonstrating support for our farmers and issues that directly impact their families, businesses and communities. It comes down to more than words; it’s their actions that are also examined,” said Mary Heintz, PAC Chair and a farmer from Marengo. “This year, 95 out of 100 Farm Bureau counties participated in the designation process. That record participation shows our farmers are motivated to support candidates that support farmers and rural Iowa during this very crucial election period. The candidates chosen must have a clear understanding and voting record of support for Farm Bureau policy,” said Heintz.
In the Iowa Governor’s race, the Iowa Farm Bureau PAC has chosen Terry Branstad and for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey. Chuck Grassley was identified as a Friend of Agriculture in the U.S. Senate race.
Tom Latham (District 4) and Steve King (District 5) were also recognized as Friends of Agriculture in the congressional races. The Farm Bureau PAC also gave the designation to candidates in 11 Iowa Senate and 51 Iowa House districts.
The grassroots effort to designate Friends of Agriculture is guided by members and begins in July when county committees start evaluating candidates. The nine-member PAC committee carefully reviews evaluations and questionnaires, while also considering candidates’ positions on issues of importance to members, leadership on Farm Bureau priorities and past voting records.

Here is the list of all the candidates who are “friends” of the Farm Bureau’s PAC.

[Read more…]

ABI endorsements in legislative races

The Iowa Association of Business and Industry has a political action committee which has endorsed candidates in legislative races and the endorsed candidates will receive a donation from ABI’s PAC before November.  The group endorsed a candidate in the 13 of the 25 senate races, including three Republicans challenging incumbent Democratic state senators.  In the House, the group endorsed just one challenger.  In addition, the ABI’s PAC has endorsed the five members of the so-called “six pack” who are seeking reelection.  The six-pack is a reference to the six House Democrats who did not vote for a union-backed bill, killing its chances in the House.

Read details below:

The Iowa Industry PAC, the political action committee of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, has named a number of candidates for the Iowa Legislature as “Friends of Iowa Business”.

The Iowa Industry PAC (IIPAC) evaluates candidates based on their ability to help create jobs in Iowa by supporting a competitive business climate.  Criteria used to make the designations include the candidates’ positions on issues of importance to job creators in Iowa.

“This initial wave of endorsements signifies that these candidates have demonstrated a commitment to improve Iowa’s business climate so that employers can create more jobs and grow the economy,” said Kirk Tyler, President of Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company who chairs IIPAC.  Additional endorsements may be made throughout the election cycle.

[Read more…]

Pataki & Revere America

Pataki250Former New York Governor George Pataki is in Des Moines today for a “” event.  The group is seeking a million signatures on a petition which calls for repeal of the national health care reform plan President Obama signed into law this spring.  UPDATE: Read the Radio Iowa story and find a 35-minute-long mp3 of the event here.  What follows is a live blog of the event.

Republican Party of Iowa chairman Matt Strawn opens by recognizing elected officials in the room:  State Auditor Dave Vaudt; Senator Larry Noble; Senator Kim Reynolds; Senator Brad Zaun; Rep. Eric Helland; Rep. Matt Windschitl; Rep. Renee Schulte; Rep. Linda Upmeyer; Rep. Rod Roberts.

Strawn tells a story about his five year old son’s reaction to news that his mother/Strawn’s wife is expecting a baby girl.  “I know we’ve got a few months for that to change,” Strawn said his son said.  His five year old has a “suspended sense of reality” that’s similar to the one Democrats have according to Strawn.S [Read more…]

Just to clear up any confusion…

As you may know by now if you've been reading this blog, House Speaker Pat Murphy is sitting in the Iowa House of Representatives this Saturday morning, keeping the House voting machine open because the "prevailing wage" bill did not pass Friday evening.  It got only 50 votes; 51 are necessary to pass a bill.

House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines was surrounded by reporters on Friday night who were asking him to explain what went wrong and what would happen next.  I share now the text of this impromptu news event, hoping it provides clarity to those of you who may be wondering just what went wrong.

McCarthy: "Don't scare me." (He said this as two microphones and several tape recorders were thrust in front of his face as he stood in front of the press bench.)

Question: "You didn't think we'd be coming to see what you'd be doing?"

[Read more…]

Voting machine protest

11:10 a.m. Saturday:  an alert caller (a legislative staffer) just rang my cell to relate the following news.  The House voting machine which House Speaker Pat Murphy decided to keep open/on until Monday at 1 p.m. sort of went on strike mid-morning Saturday.  As you may know, the "prevailing wage" bill that House debated on Friday garnered just 50 "yes" votes when the votes were cast Friday evening.  It takes 51 votes to pass a bill, so rather than declare the bill defeated, Murphy decided to keep the voting machine open.


Apparently, the voting machine has long-haul limits, as it shut down about half an hour ago. The chief clerk of the House had written down the votes on a sheet of paper, so Representative Polly Bukta (a Democrat) reset the voting machine and punched back in all the votes by hand as Representative Linda Upmeyer (a Republican) stood over her shoulder to make sure the vote count was identical to where it stood Friday night.

Iowans for Tax Relief lauds Obama today

Iowans for Tax Relief and a handful of Republican legislators today held a news conference to call for posting the state budget on-line, in a searchable database, so the public can review the records, see where/how their tax dollars are being spent and perhaps make suggestions for savings.  Click on this link to the Radio Iowa story and you can access the 12-minute-long mp3 of the news conference.

One wag (it wasn't ME) who read the Iowans for Tax Relief news release used the "text phrase" LOL to describe their reaction to how many times Barack Obama is mentioned. (LOL means Laughing Out Loud.)  If you read yesterday's blog post, you know that today's news conference in Des Moines happened while former state Senator Mary Lundby's funeral was being held in Cedar Rapids .  Todd Dorman, a columnist and blogger for The Cedar Rapids Gazette, headlined his post "Iowans for Questionable Timing."

Here is the ITR news release, with Obama's name highlighted so you can count the number of times his name is mentioned:

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Iowans for Tax Relief supports President Barack Obama's mission for a transparent government.

MUSCATINE, IA— Iowans for Tax Relief supports President Barack Obama's push for a transparent government, with legislation to implement a website providing transparency of taxing and spending by Iowa government.

In keeping with the spirit of a fully transparent government, members of the Iowa House and Senate introduced legislation today requiring the implementation of a website to provide true transparency of taxing and spending in Iowa government.

When in the United States Senate in 2006, then Senator Obama, sponsored legislation and successfully implemented a website providing Americans with a fee-free searchable database to see how our federal tax dollars are spent.

"I am very pleased President Obama is keeping his pledge to promote greater transparency in government. He sponsored legislation as a senator which increased transparency, and yesterday in his inaugural speech, President Obama made clear, accountability and transparency in government are part of his agenda for change," said Ed Failor, Jr., President of Iowans for Tax Relief.

Each year Iowans pay more than $4,700 per person in state and local taxes. The implementation of an Iowa Transparency website would likely have a limited price tag under $40,000. Software is available at no cost from the federal government and some states have partnered with private businesses to develop state websites.

Failor continued, "Iowans for Tax Relief agrees with President Obama and we endorse his call for change. The people are the consumer of government, and all Iowans should be able to find out exactly how their tax dollars are being spent. I want to thank the bill sponsors who are here today and ask all other Legislators to honor the agenda of our new President and support swift passage of this bill."
Currently there are nine states with government spending transparency websites, including our border state of Missouri (

The bill would require the Iowa Department of Management (the state budgeting office) to develop and operate a single searchable web site, by January 1, 2011, for Iowa taxpayers to see how and where their tax dollars are being spent. The legislation also requires the Iowa Department of Management along with the Department of Revenue to develop and operate a searchable database and clickable map of all the tax rates in the state for each taxing jurisdiction. The database shall also include a tax rate calculator for taxpayers to calculate their taxes or potential taxes.

"We all deserve to determine for ourselves if government is efficient and effective with our tax dollars. Taxpaying Iowans who pay the bills of government should be able to review how their hard earned tax dollars are spent. With true transparency every day Iowans, not just legislators and the budget managers, can find new ways to provide savings. We believe Iowans deserve to see how their tax dollars are spent and we are honored to be part of advancing President Obama's agenda for greater transparency in government," continued Ed Failor, Jr., President of Iowans for Tax Relief.

Iowans for Tax Relief is excited to support the goal of President Obama for a truly transparent government. We thank bill sponsors; Rep. Linda Upmeyer (R-Garner), Rep. Doug Struyk (R-Council Bluffs), Rep. Erik Helland (R-Grimes), Senator Kim Reynolds (R-Osceola) and Senator Shawn Hamerlinck (R-Davenport). We hope for swift passage of this bill through the Iowa Legislature and urge Governor Culver to sign the Iowa Transparency Act into law.

We ask all Iowa taxpayers to contact their state legislators by phone or email as soon as possible.
Iowa House Switchboard (515) 281-3221; Iowa Senate Switchboard (515) 281-3371; and visit our website if you need email addresses or you are unsure of your state legislators at
You can search federal government spending at 24-hours a day and 7-days a week.

(Editor's note:  by my count, that's eight direct Obama mentions, one indirect "our new president" mention…Of further note, Failor was among the consultants on John McCain's payroll until July, 2007.)

An interesting ITR decision

Iowans for Tax Relief has scheduled a news conference in Des Moines, Iowa, tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.  The timing is interesting, as many legislators will be in Cedar Rapids, attending the funeral of former state Senator Mary Lundby of Marion.  The funeral is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. It appears the leader of Iowans for Tax Relief has no plans to pay his respects to Lundby at her funeral, as according to the news release Iowans for Tax Relief president Ed Failor, Junior, will be in Des Moines leading the news conference.

Lundby was a Republican and in April of 2006 she took over as Republican leader of the Iowa Senate in what many considered a surprise move. Republicans in the senate met privately and ousted their leader, Stewart Iverson (a longtime friend of Iowans for Tax Relief), installing Lundby as Co-Majority Leader of the Iowa Senate. 

Kathleen Koberg, a spokewoman for Iowans for Tax Relief, responded to a question from me about the timing of the news conference. I asked whether it would, indeed, occur during the time Lundby's funeral would be held.  "Press conference is in Des Moines.  No conflict for attendees of either," Koberg wrote in an email.  "Didn't imagine a press conference in Des Moines could possibly be perceived negatively."

According to an ITR news release, the following legislators are scheduled to speak at the ITR news conference tomorrow: Representative Erik Helland (R- Grimes); Representative Doug Struyk (R- Council Bluffs); Representative Linda Upmeyer (R-Garner); Senator Shawn Hamerlinck (R- Davenport); Senator Kim Reynolds (R- Osceola). All but Struyk and Upmeyer are newcomers in the legislature, so Helland, Hamerlinck and Reynolds did not serve with Lundby — who was a state representative for eight years and a state senator for the past 14 years.  Upmeyer, who was elected to the Iowa House in 2002, is currently the top-ranking Republican woman in the Iowa House. She's the minority whip. According to campaign documents, the Iowans for Tax Relief PAC donated $5000 to Upmeyer in the 2008 election cycle.

UPDATE AT 8:50 P.M.:  I went out to eat this evening, as did Representative Upmeyer.  We were just able to talk, via phone.  "Mary (Lundby) would be pleased to see what we have happening (tomorrow)," Upmeyer said to conclude the conversation.  "It'll be good."

I opened with a question.  Why are you having this news conference in Des Moines during Lundby's funeral in Marion?  "Kraig did not want both of us to be gone," Upmeyer began, referencing House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen.  Upmeyer is the #2 Republican in the House this year.  "He really wanted one of us to be in (Des Moines).  As much as I wanted wanted to go and honor Mary, Kraig needs to go and wants to go very badly (to Lundby's funeral) and one of us needed to stay back and it needed to be me," Upmeyer said. Paulsen is from Hiawatha so he, like Lundby is/was a Linn County legislator. The primary reason for Upmeyer to stay in Des Moines tomorrow, however, is the on-call status of the House Rebuild Iowa Committee, according to Upmeyer.  While Democrats who control the legislature's debate agenda have suspended committee action in both the Senate and House tomorrow, Upmeyer says members of the Rebuild Iowa Committee in the House have been told to be ready to meet if the flood recovery bill is drafted and ready for consideration. 

"That's the only reason we did it differently. Honestly, we could have delayed this news conference a day and it would have been fine," Upmeyer said of the ITR news conference.  "…You know, Mary was a wonderful lady. She was somebody that was an inspiration to me really way, way back when I was involved in community colleges and came to the hill to talk to people about why we needed to fund community colleges. She was a woman who was a real inspiration and I definitely wanted to be there, but nonetheless it's the right thing for one of us (House Republican leaders) to stay in Des Moines and look after business. That's what we were elected to do."

"…Mary's gone and Mary knows that I would love to be there," Upmeyer says.  "That's OK.  Mary would be pleased to see what we have happening tomorrow (at the ITR news conference). It'll be good."