Beck: Let’s first start with a news conference the Governor called this morning to talk about Iowa’s economy and the nation. There are fears of recession, and the governor says not necessarily here.
Pitt: Right. I think we started the morning with some republican leaders in the legislature poised and ready to take on, I think, the governor and say we need to be more proactive here. I think they were saying – prepared to say that the governor wasn’t taking enough action quickly enough. Actually they had a meeting this afternoon, and they seemed to come out agreeing on at least a few things in principle and the governor agreeing to sign a bill that would alleviate the state taxes that Iowans may have to pay on any federal rebate they may be getting back in the mail. So, you know, they at least worked out one of the issues that the republicans had asked for. There are still some other issues to be worked out, but I think it kind of took some of the teeth out of that rhetoric that we started the day with.
Beck: And the governor, I know, in his message in saying, one, you’re right, that I won’t charge taxes – you won’t have to pay taxes on the federal money you might get if a federal stimulus package is approved. But also saying, you know, look, don’t be that worried. He really said the Iowa economy so far isn’t near the national economy.
Pitt: And I think he was citing the biofuels industry, which has been quite healthy in the state of Iowa, generating a lot of wealth – revenue. So I think he’s saying, you know, our economy maybe is a little bit better than the national economy in general because we have that very specific part of the economy that’s been quite healthy.
And then he also said, you know, the State of Iowa itself has plenty of money in reserves to weather any tough time. So I think he feels, you know, with the wind industry doing well here, the ethanol and biodiesel plants online and producing, the farmers are making lots of money on corn and soybeans these days, it seems. So, you know, I think he feels like the economy isn’t really that bad here yet.
Beck: But you did mention republicans aren’t completely satisfied. They would like him to go one step further, and instead of just not taxing the income we might get from the federal government, they want something else.
Pitt: Well, I think one of the big issues is that the republicans want the governor to kind of curtail the increase in spending that he’s proposed in his budget, and that seems to be one of the things that stuck with them after the meeting today. I know Christopher Rants, the leader in the House – the republican leader in the House was saying that is something that the governor didn’t address, didn’t say that he would agree with us on. And they were pretty persistent about that, it seems.
Beck: Over the weekend, the Supreme Court Justice, Marcia Ternus, issued a commission – said she would start a commission to look at what?
Pitt: Well, late in the week last week, Marcia Ternus had said that she would like to appoint a study committee – a task force, basically, to look at the magistrate judge system in Iowa. Each county in Iowa has a magistrate judge which handles a lot of the lower-tier issues that come before the criminal justice system, the misdemeanors – simple misdemeanors and those kinds of things. But they also handle a lot of things like protective orders and small claims and traffic court things.
And so I think what they’re saying is that the population has grown in some parts of the state and some of the metropolitan areas. There are some counties that may need, you know, a district court judge or a judge on a different level a little more frequently than they have now. So I think she is just simply saying, let’s have a task force of people in the – judges, lawyers, and people who really are familiar with the system, and let’s take a look at it and see if our magistrate court system needs to be revamped. It’s been the same for somewhat like thirty years, and we haven’t made any changes. So I think she’s just saying let’s take a look at it and see if we need to do something.
Beck: One final piece of news -- We don’t have much time left. Over the weekend the Iowa Republican Party named a new executive director, a new head.
Pitt: And it’s not a new name. Obviously, Stewart Iverson was the leader in the Senate and a lawmaker for a number of years and left, was it two sessions ago or – I don’t know, a couple years ago.
Beck: Yes, it will be two years at the end of this year.
Pitt: And he’s coming back to lead the Republican Party, someone who I believe the republican operatives say that can raise some money for the party and pull people today. So it looks like Stewart Iverson is in the position to do that.
Beck: Some say this might even be a better suited position for him. He’s a likable guy. He’s good with people and apparently a good fund-raiser.
Pitt: That’s what people are saying. I think that’s what they hope. And democrats have raised more money than republicans most recently in the most recent months, and I think that’s something they want to get back on track.
Beck: Yeah, he comes in at a tough time for the party.