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News Analysis: January 17, 2008

posted on January 18, 2008 at 2:14 PM

Yeager: David, a couple off issues going on in the statehouse. It seems like there’s going to be a rally of any kind every day of the week there, but the one that drew almost 500 yesterday was one about gay marriage.

Pitt: Right. This is a case that’s pending before the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court Chief Justice was delivering her State of the Court’s address on Wednesday, and that was kind of the reason why the people decided to come to the statehouse that day, use that as a reason to protest and to say that they want this coming before the legislature. They want the legislature to pass it for two consecutive sessions and then put it before a vote of the people of Iowa and to make it a constitutional amendment. That’s why it happened.

Yeager: That was their cry. They want a vote. They want their say whether it’s one way or the other, they want to say -- What’s the likelihood that they’ll get their wish?

Pitt: I think the likelihood is not very possible. I mean the way it sounds, Democrats say that they’re not going to allow that to come up this year. They want it to work its way through the court system. Just as an aside, that appears to be working its way through the Supreme Court. I think at the end of this month, some written documents are required from the Polk County side, and then about three months after that, by March, some documents from the other side. And then the Court will take it under advisement and rule some many months later. So it will be later in the year before we hear anything from them.

Yeager: And it seems like whatever state in the Union this happens, it always seems to draw the attention of some of the similar groups, and they’re all converging on Iowa. Are we seeing a lot of outside groups in Iowa talking about this, or is this a lot of Iowans rallying Iowans?

Pitt: I think there are a number of groups that are interested in this case from both sides. Both inside the state and outside the state, it’s obviously a large national issue, and it’s being considered in a number of states as it is being considered here. But they seem to be groups that can motivate people and get them out even on a cold winter day in Iowa, obviously, from the number of the crowd yesterday.

Yeager: That’s usually sometimes a good barometer of how strong your support is, is how many people you can get there. Yeah, you can bus people who aren’t interested, but there seemed to be a lot of interesting parties there. One other interesting party thing going on was earlier in the week there was an Iowa Utilities Board hearing about coal plants, specifically talking about Marshalltown. But for whatever reason, Waterloo is getting into this mix as well. The hearing was about the Alliant Energy plant in Marshalltown. But now Black Hawk County has stepped up.

Pitt: The Black Hawk County Board of Health passed a resolution asking the state to issue a moratorium on any new coal plants until the state can come up with stricter guidelines as far as the amount of pollutants that are allowed to be admitted into the air. You know, it’s a small board – a small county board. The significance to the state, you know, I guess is yet to be seen. But they at least voiced their concern about it and voiced their feelings about it.

Yeager: We’re always talking energy or alternative energy. Coal is not alternative energy. The clean coal is the PR campaign that’s been going about this one. How realistic or how much longer before we know what the Utilities Board is going to decide? Are they going to decide soon, or are they going to keep having hearings?

Pitt: I think it will take a while. This is, again, another process that has to go through the system and the hearings have to be held – public hearings on both plans. And, you know, there are a lot of people that want to weigh in on it, so it will be a while before we hear any certainty on it.

Yeager: Far from over. We’ll probably talk about it again here. David Pitt of the “Associated Press,” thank you, as always.

Tags: Iowa news