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News Analysis: April 10, 2008

posted on April 10, 2008 at 11:44 AM

Yeager: Kay, the first thing we want to talk about is something that we've talked about over and over and over again. But finally a bill, a smoking bill, we can snuff this one out, put it to rest, kick it away. This has been signed. What now are the ramifications after this bill has been passed before it goes to the Governor's office? What has been the fallout that we've seen in these first couple of days?

Henderson: Well, you have some businesses talking spiritedly about perhaps a legal challenge because the compromise that was developed forbids smoking at bars and restaurants in Iowa but it would still be allowed on the casino gaming floor. Now, the irony here if this were to go to court is that, you know, there was a fight among the state's gambling industry a few years ago whereby the state licensed race tracks that had slot machine casinos sued because they were taxed differently, at a different rate than the riverboat casinos, what were known then as riverboat casinos. I'm not sure that is the precedent for what will be occurring in the courtrooms of this state. But certainly there has been some talk about a legal challenge.

Yeager: And that is something that they look at, not only the law and how it is written but as a precedent, as you mentioned. So, who do we think would even throw a legal challenge at this? Is it on the enforcement side?

Henderson: No, it would be business owners that would hope to stymie this and, of course, when, for instance, the city of Ames had an anti-smoking ordinance locally that was challenged by a group of business owners in Ames and quite successfully because the smoking ordinance was tossed out.

Yeager: So, we'll see how that one goes. Do we know when we might see a bill signed? Is that going to happen early in the week? Is there going to be a big ceremony?

Henderson: I would assume there will be a big ceremony, there will be anti-smoking forces there. I'm guessing that the Governor and his staff may choose to stage it in an establishment which has forbidden smoking within the confines of that business.

Yeager: So, more to come on that one, we'll find out on Monday's program more about that. But also at the legislature yesterday was a statewide sales tax, basically. What is that? And why is it important?

Henderson: Presently Iowans in all 99 counties have voted to enact a one-cent local option sales tax and the proceeds are used to improve school buildings and construct new ones. This alternative would have all that one-cent collected at the state level and returned to districts on a per pupil basis. What happens now is, for instance, retail centers, Polk County, Linn County, the Cedar Rapids area great benefit there because they have a lot of retail trade and so schools in those areas benefit whereas in small counties like Ringgold County they don't have a lot of retail trade. So, this is an equity issue. And you saw rural legislators who you might not have thought would be among the coalition to support this really out there speaking vociferously in favor of it because of the equity issue.

Yeager: Because their constituents are the people who go to the larger counties to shop and they would just like to see some of that money come back. Is that part of that?

Henderson: Correct.

Yeager: Every county has the statewide sales tax now. What is going to change?

Henderson: What will change is the distribution.

Yeager: The distribution is the most important part of that. Okay, anything else in the legislature that we need to know about as they look ahead to next week and the final couple of days?

Henderson: Well, thankfully they have been meeting in private confabs for the past few days and that's always a good sign because they are making decisions which would mean that they'll get done.

Yeager: Okay, one other thing I want to have you talk about is you just had an interview just a few moments ago before you joined us here with the founder of the super delegate system. Tell me who it is. He's an Iowa native.

Henderson: From Audubon, Iowa, his name is Charles Manatt. In 1981 he was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee. In 1983 he instituted a system whereby super delegates, he likes to call them unpledged delegates, were to be going to the 1984 national convention. The reason he did this, he told me, was that at the 1980 democratic convention there were only 19 governors, senators, congressmen or big city mayors who were delegates at that convention, just 19 because public figures did not want to run against their own constituents for those very rare delegate seats at the national convention. He argued that you need those people involved as delegates at the convention because they have the apparatus in each of the 50 states that is going to benefit the party's nominee. Now, in subsequent years, subsequent leaders of the party have elected to add many other party poobahs so at the 2008 convention there will be nearly 800 super delegates and, by the way, Mr. Manatt will be one of them.

Yeager: Has he said who he is pledging?

Henderson: He is a Clinton supporter. He was co-chair of the Clinton-Gore campaigns, he has obviously been among Hillary Clinton's supporters. He indicated, however, that he believes that the nomination will be wrapped up by July or perhaps even as early as June.

Yeager: We'll see how that goes. Any time we can use poobah it's always a good thing. Kay, thank you as always.

Tags: Iowa news smoking