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Iowa News Analysis: February 26, 2009

posted on February 26, 2009 at 2:23 PM

News analyst Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa and host Paul Yeager talk prevailing wage, limits on campaign contributions, and recall of local politicians.

Paul Yeager: First we turn to Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa who has taken a step from the state capitol, where you've had a long week that just hasn't stopped.  You've basically lived at the capitol this week along with house democrats and republicans over the prevailing wage which did not prevail.  Why did they keep the voting machine open for so long?  What was the thinking behind this from leadership in this debate?

Kay Henderson: Well, on Monday afternoon House Speaker Pat Murphy made the decision to keep the voting machine open when they only had 50 yes votes hoping, as we know in vain, that they would get the 51st vote necessary to pass the bill.  On Monday afternoon he admitted that his Irish temper got the better of him and he decided to keep the voting machine open all weekend long.  Now, I didn't spend the entire weekend there but there were a number of legislators who did do so.  The interesting thing about this situation is the failure on the part of house democrats to muster the 51 votes necessary to pass this bill has in turn brought Governor Culver out of the shadows and for the first time he is actively engaged in getting labor related bills through the legislature.  There are four of them.  This is just the first one on which a vote was cast this year.

Paul Yeager: Now, he was not here this weekend, is that correct?  He was having to do these through phones, he was at the governor's convention or governor's conference, so he had to do a lot on the phone.  McKinley Bailey, one of the representatives from the Webster City area, he said his voicemail was full, his text messages were full, he was getting inundated.  He is one of the people that the governor was calling.

Kay Henderson: Right and the message that the governor left was left on voicemail and McKinley Bailey didn't listen to it until very late Sunday night so that probably didn't turn the tide in terms of McKinley Bailey's vote.  The five democrats who cast their votes there is foreseen no scenario whereby any of them would change their votes because they would be castigated by the folks at home.  So, they went home this weekend and said I voted no and defended that position in community level meetings.  McKinley Bailey, for instance, was applauded by his local constituents in the Webster City area.

Paul Yeager: He is a democrat by name but there's some ...

Kay Henderson: It's a republican leading district.

Paul Yeager: It is and there's plenty who call him a conservative democrat and there might be five others that are that way that don't always go along caucus lines.  So, what does this mean for the rest of the session not just for labor issues but anything?  Does this hurt Speaker Murphy?

Kay Henderson: It is seen as a black mark on his record for the 2009 session, that's for sure and house majority leader Kevin McCarthy, a democrat from Des Moines, really didn't help matters much in terms of the team effort by sort of suggesting on Friday night that this was a decision of the speakers alone and he was the person to hold accountable.  The buck, in other words, stopped up there.

Paul Yeager: We'll have to hear from McCarthy tomorrow when he's on Iowa Press.  He'll be here to discuss that.  But other things are going on this week, they didn't just fold up the tent after working Friday through the weekend.  There's a couple of other things and one of them that's very interesting that you have been covering and that's the limit on campaign contributions.  What is behind this law?

Kay Henderson: It was a fascinating committee meeting yesterday, on Wednesday, in the state government committee in the senate when they debated this bill that would in essence limit individual contributions to statewide candidates, the people running for governor or for secretary of state, an individual like you or me could only donate $4000 to that individual candidate or there were lesser limits for legislative candidates.  This would be the first time that Iowa would have these sorts of limits.  Of course, we've been following things on a presidential level and we all know that there are limits on contributions that individuals may make to federal candidates but this bill faces an unlikely future.  Senate democratic leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs this afternoon said he really hadn't made a decision on whether to debate that bill.

Paul Yeager: Another thing that is kind of tied to this that you had told me earlier there was a call of maybe wanting to recall lawmakers or boards, it's not just at the state level, in case we don't like what they've done.  California always gets the press for that.  What is the bill and the discussion on that?

Kay Henderson: This bill originated in the Cedar Rapids area among flood victims primarily upset with local legislators, with local city council members, with local county boards of supervisors, folks they think didn't react and in the result of the flooding disaster which struck there haven't managed well.  So, a string, a trio or even larger than a trio of Linn County area legislators were co-sponsoring a bill to allow for this recall so if you get enough people to sign a petition then if you are a county official, a city official or even a legislator by golly you have to stand for re-election.  Many of us may recall Gray Davis who was the Governor of California and now we have Governor Arnold in California because of the process in California which allows recall election.

Paul Yeager: Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa, News Director there, thank you so much for stopping by The Iowa Journal tonight.

Tags: Iowa money news policy

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