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Iowa News Analysis: April 2, 2009

posted on April 3, 2009 at 3:57 PM

Radio Iowa news director Kay Henderson talks with host Paul Yeager about the wild week at the Iowa Legislature regarding tax legislation, and speculates about the news from the Iowa Supreme Court on their ruling on gay marriage in Iowa.


Paul Yeager:  Kay, it's been a long week, it's even going to get longer tomorrow but we'll get to the legislature in a moment.  First I want to talk about the gay marriage, the Iowa Supreme Court is going to issue its ruling.  Is this earlier or later than was expected?

Kay Henderson: This was much earlier than expected.  As many of the viewers may know Iowa has a law which currently declares that the only legally recognized marriages in Iowa are those between a man and a woman.  A group of six couples who are gay sued and said it's unconstitutional.  The court tomorrow at 8:30a.m. will be releasing an opinion as to whether it is or is not constitutional.  The big surprise on this was today at the statehouse republican legislators said they were wiling to go home without responding to this case in any way.  Of course, many republicans would like the legislature to pass a resolution sort of setting the wheels in motion for a constitutional amendment to Iowa's state constitution which would ban gay marriage.

Paul Yeager: Any word from democrats if they're going to move forward on this?

Kay Henderson: Democrats are expressing caution.  It's clear that if any action does occur on this it will happen next year in the legislature.

Paul Yeager: Of course, nobody knows what they're going to say so we'll have to follow that next week.  Let's move on, it was quite the week at the statehouse, almost a meltdown of sorts.  What happened?

Kay Henderson: Indeed it was.  On Tuesday night the Iowa House opened its doors and welcomed hundreds of Iowans who came to express their thoughts on a bill that democrats have advanced which would change Iowa's income tax system significantly.  About an hour into the two-hour planned public hearing the house speaker had the place cleared of most of the audience.  House rules say no demonstrations of any kind and the folks, many of whom are Iowans for Tax Relief members, were clapping when they agreed with speakers and they were also, in many instances, booing speakers with whom they did not agree that were in effect saying they supported the bill.  After repeated warnings to quit clapping and to quit booing they called in the State Troopers and all those folks were escorted out of the building.

Paul Yeager: So, this has been quite the year for the house and the democrats because they had this happen where they had to clear the chamber, they stayed for the longest day in session history.  Does this have any ability in what the leadership is going to be able to do to pass things here in the final few days?

Kay Henderson: They are trying to craft a state budget and, of course, they're doing that under duress as well because state tax revenues in this economic situation have declined precipitously yet republicans on the other side are arguing vociferously that the democrats have been overspending.  And so in this, what legislators hope to be the final seven or ten days of the 2009 session, there's going to be conflict over the budget and there's likely to be conflict over this tax plan.

Paul Yeager: All right, we won't keep you any longer because you've got lots of things to cover.  Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa, thank you very much for stopping by The Iowa Journal tonight. 

Tags: government Iowa Iowa legislature Iowa Supreme Court news


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