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House Speaker
Christopher Rants


(#3130)
March 26, 2004

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IOWA PRESS #3130 >>

Yepsen: THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION OF 2004 IS HEADING INTO ITS FINAL MONTH, AND BUDGET MATTERS REMAIN FRONT AND CENTER. CHRISTOPHER RANTS, SPEAKER OF THE IOWA HOUSE, DISCUSSES THE PARTICULARS AND PROJECTS THE OUTCOMES ON THIS EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS."

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS," THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION... GENERATIONS OF FAMILIES AND FRIENDS WHO FEEL PASSIONATE ABOUT THE PROGRAMS THEY WATCH ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION;

AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, MARCH 26 EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." HERE IS DAVID YEPSEN.

Yepsen: IT'S 74 DAYS DOWN AND 26 TO GO IN THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION OF 2004, AND WORK CONTINUES ON THE NEW STATE BUDGET. THIS BUDGET FOR FISCAL 2005 GOES INTO EFFECT ON JULY 1, AND IT'S THE FOURTH CONSECUTIVE STATE BUDGET TO TAKE SOME HEAVY HITS. IN FACT, WHEN THE GAVEL WENT DOWN AT THE IOWA STATEHOUSE ON MONDAY, JANUARY 12, IOWA'S 150 ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS WERE FACING AN ANTICIPATED DEFICIT ESTIMATED TO BE IN THE $300-MILLION RANGE. SO LAWMAKERS ARE AGAIN PLANNING TO SPEND DOWN THE CASH RESERVES TO MAKE THINGS BALANCE. THERE IS A BIT OF BRIGHT LIGHT AT THE END OF THE LEGISLATIVE TUNNEL, THOUGH. THE QUARTERLY REPORT LATE LAST WEEK FROM THE REVENUE ESTIMATING CONFERENCE PREDICTS AN UPTICK IN ECONOMIC GROWTH. STILL THE SHORT-TERM AND LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS TO IOWA'S CHRONIC BUDGET PROBLEMS REMAIN ELUSIVE, AND HERE TO HELP US SORT THROUGH THE PARTICULARS IS HOUSE SPEAKER CHRISTOPHER RANTS, A REPUBLICAN FROM SIOUX CITY. MR. SPEAKER, WELCOME BACK TO "IOWA PRESS."

Rants: GOOD MORNING.

Yepsen: GOOD TO HAVE YOU WITH US. ALSO WITH US AT THE "IOWA PRESS" TABLE ARE JENEANE BECK, LEGISLATIVE REPORTER WITH KUNI PUBLIC RADIO, AND KAY HENDERSON, NEWS DIRECTOR WITH "RADIO IOWA."

Henderson: SPEAKER RANTS, YOU AND OTHER REPUBLICANS WHO RUN THE LEGISLATURE WANT TO GET OUT IN TWO WEEKS. TELL US WHAT THE TO-DO LIST IS OVER THAT TWO-WEEK PERIOD.

Rants: WELL, OBVIOUSLY, AS DAVID ALREADY ALLUDED TO, WE HAVE A BUDGET THAT HAS TO BE FINALIZED AND PUT TOGETHER. THAT WILL BE GOING THROUGH THE SENATE CHAMBER THIS COMING WEEK, AND THEN THE HOUSE WILL BEGIN WORK ON THAT. THERE'S A GAMING ISSUE, GAMBLING ISSUE, THAT STILL HAS TO BE RESOLVED. AND REALLY, UNTIL THAT IS FINALIZED, WORK ON THE BUDGET CAN'T BE COMPLETED BECAUSE THAT GAMBLING REVENUE IS USED TO FUND OUR INFRASTRUCTURE PROGRAMS, OUR ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMS, THINGS OF THAT NATURE. SO THAT'S OBVIOUSLY ON THE TO-DO LIST. THERE ARE A COUPLE OTHER MAJOR ISSUES STILL TO GO, ONE INVOLVING WHETHER OR NOT THE STATE SHOULD SELL OR CONTINUE TO OPERATE THE IOWA COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK, THE STATE-RUN TELEPHONE COMPANY. WE'VE BEEN TALKING FOR YEARS ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT WE OUGHT TO GET OUT OF THE BUSINESS OF RUNNING TELEPHONES OR EXPAND IT AND TRY TO RUN IT AT A PROFIT, AND WE'RE AT A CRITICAL JUNCTURE NOW TO MAKE THAT DECISION. AND THAT IS AN ISSUE THAT STILL HAS TO BE DISCUSSED. SO THE TO-DO LIST ISN'T TOO LONG. MOST OF IT INVOLVES MONEY. WE STILL DO HAVE SOME OTHER POLICY ISSUES THAT REMAIN BEFORE US. BUT, YOU KNOW, THE LIST IS MANAGEABLE AND THERE'S NO REASON WHY WE CAN'T BE OUT IN THE NEXT TWO TO THREE WEEKS.

Beck: WE DO WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT A COUPLE OF THOSE ISSUES. BUT FIRST, WHAT DO YOU WANT THE SESSION TO BE REMEMBERED FOR? IN THE PAST WE'VE HAD THE VALUES FUND, WHICH WAS COMMUNITY TOURISM PROJECTS, OR THE VISION IOWA PROGRAM LAST YEAR. IS THERE GOING TO BE SOMETHING TO REMEMBER THIS SESSION BY?

Rants: THIS ISN'T GOING TO BE A LEGISLATIVE SESSION THAT IS GOVERNED OR IS KNOWN FOR A MARQUEE ISSUE -- AND I THINK EVERYBODY SAID THAT AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR -- BECAUSE THOSE KINDS OF SESSIONS, WHETHER IT BE THE VALUES FUND OR VISION IOWA, TYPICALLY INVOLVE EXPENDITURES OF A LOT OF MONEY, AND THAT MONEY ISN'T AVAILABLE THIS YEAR. THIS IS GOING TO BE A SESSION THAT REALLY FOCUSES MORE ON THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF WHAT IT TAKES TO IMPROVE IOWA'S BUSINESS CLIMATE. WE CAN TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE BILLS THAT WE'VE BEEN PUSHING THROUGH IN THE HOUSE TO TRY TO IMPROVE THE BUSINESS CLIMATE FOR, YOU KNOW, EVERYDAY IOWANS, THOSE MA-AND-PA BUSINESSES THAT ARE JUST STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE, AREN'T LOOKING FOR ANY HANDOUTS FROM THE STATE, BUT WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE. WE'RE TRYING TO MAKE SOME EVERYDAY IMPROVEMENTS FOR PEOPLE AROUND THE STATE, WHETHER IT BE INVESTING IN OUR COMMUNITY COLLEGES TO TRY TO MAKE COLLEGE EDUCATION MORE AFFORDABLE FOR IOWA FAMILIES, MAYBE WORKING ON SOME QUIET ISSUES. YOU KNOW, IF YOU'RE A BLIND PERSON IN THIS STATE, YOU'VE BEEN ACTIVELY WATCH -- ACTIVELY PAYING ATTENTION TO WHAT HAPPENS WITH NEWS SERVICES AVAILABLE FOR THE BLIND. SO WHILE THERE MIGHT NOT BE A MARQUEE ISSUE THAT COMES BEFORE US, IT'S INCREMENTAL PROGRESS ON A LOT OF THINGS THAT AFFECT IOWA FAMILIES. IT MIGHT NOT BE HEADLINES. I KNOW WHETHER IT'S ON THE RADIO, THE NEWS AT THE TOP OF THE HOUR, OR ON THE FRONT PAGE OF THE PAPER, IT'S ALWAYS GOING TO BE ABOUT GAMBLING OR GAY MARRIAGES OR THINGS LIKE THAT. BUT WHAT THIS SESSION REALLY IS ABOUT IS MAKING PROGRESS THAT JUST AFFECT IOWANS, YOU KNOW, IN THEIR OWN FAMILY LIFE, WHETHER IT'S TRYING TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR THEIR KIDS TO GO TO COLLEGE, TRYING TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE TO MAKE A PROFIT, YOU KNOW, IN THEIR SMALL BUSINESS, THINGS OF THAT NATURE.

Henderson: WELL, THERE ARE SIX COUNTIES IN IOWA THAT ARE LOOKING TO YOU TO KNOW WHETHER THE LEGISLATURE WILL ALLOW THEM THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE A NEW GAMBLING OPERATION IN THEIR BORDERS. LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT GAMBLING BILL. IT'S CLEARED THE HOUSE. IT DID NOT ALLOW ANY NEW LICENSES, BUT IT DID ALLOW TABLE GAMES. THINGS RIGHT NOW ARE BROKEN DOWN ABOUT THE TAX RATE. WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE LIKELY OUTCOME IN REGARDS TO TAXATION OF THE TRACKS?

Rants: WELL, I HATE TO SAY THIS BUT THAT'S A BETTER QUESTION PERHAPS RESERVED NEXT TIME FOR SENATOR LAMBERTI. HOPEFULLY THEY'LL HAVE IT IRONED OUT BY THEN. WE BELIEVE THAT THE TAX RATE AND THE TAX PACKAGE THAT WAS PUT TOGETHER BY THE HOUSE WAS IN FACT REVENUE NEUTRAL, 32 PERCENT, 20 PERCENT. IT WOULD EQUAL WHAT IT WAS GOING TO BE HAD THE SUPREME COURT NOT RULED AGAINST US. WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE, SO WE TRIED TO CRAFT A NEW PACKAGE THAT GENERATED THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY. I STILL BELIEVE THAT IT DOES GENERATE THAT AMOUNT OF MONEY. WHAT I THINK HAS CHANGED IS THERE ARE SOME DIFFERENT KINDS OF INFRASTRUCTURE THINGS THAT PEOPLE WOULD LIKE TO FUND IN ADDITION TO THAT. WHEN I LOOK AT IT, I SAY WHAT IS IT THAT WE WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO FUND THAT WE ARE CURRENTLY FUNDING, AND I DON'T REALLY SEE ANYTHING ON THAT LIST. BUT THE SENATE HAS A DIFFERENT OPINION ABOUT THAT, AND THAT'S FINE. IF THEY CAN PUT TOGETHER A BETTER PACKAGE, HEY, HAPPY TO TAKE A LOOK AT IT. I WISH THEM THE BEST OF LUCK IN THAT ENDEAVOR. BUT I THINK THE CENTRAL QUESTION THAT THEY'RE REALLY GOING TO HAVE TO GRAPPLE WITH IS WHETHER OR NOT TO EXPAND NEW LICENSES. AND THE HOUSE SAID THAT THERE WON'T BE AN EXPANSION. THE SENATE MAY HAVE A DIFFERENT OPINION OF THAT, AND I HOPE THAT WE GET THAT BILL BACK TO THE HOUSE IN RELATIVELY SHORT ORDER BECAUSE WE CAN'T TAKE ACTION ON INFRASTRUCTURE BUDGET, ENVIRONMENTAL FIRST, SOME OF THOSE KINDS OF THINGS UNTIL THEY DO.

Henderson: WELL, LET'S SET ASIDE THE LICENSE ISSUE FOR JUST A MOMENT AND KEEP FOCUSED ON TAXES. SENATORS ARE TRYING TO REWORK THAT TAX DEAL, AND THIS IS ALSO PART OF THE LEGAL SETTLEMENT THAT WILL KEEP THE STATE FROM PAYING MILLIONS TO RACETRACKS WHO ARE DUE THOSE BACK TAXES. WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON WHAT THE SENATE IS DOING? ARE THEY SORT OF ENDANGERING THIS PRECARIOUS LEGAL SETTLEMENT?

Rants: IT IS A COMPLICATED THING TO PUT TOGETHER, IN PART BECAUSE IT TRULY IS NEGOTIATION. IF YOU DON'T WANT -- YOU HAVE TWO OPTIONS: YOU EITHER WORK SOMETHING OUT WITH THE RACE TRACKS, WHEREBY THEY WILL RELEASE OR FORGIVE THE JUDGMENT AGAINST THE STATE AND THAT'S IMPORTANT, THAT'S WHAT WE WERE ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH IN THE HOUSE -- AND STILL GENERATE ENOUGH IN TAX REVENUE SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO MAKE CUTS TO ALL THOSE OTHER PROGRAMS; OR -- AND THIS IS WHERE PEOPLE DIDN'T LIKE THIS, JENEANE LIKES THIS -- I TALKED ABOUT THE BAG OF HAMMERS. AND THAT IS THE ABILITY THAT THE STATE HAS TO, IN THE END, RAISE TAXES ENOUGH TO RECOUP THE LOSS THAT STATE SUFFERED AT THE HANDS OF THE COURT. THAT'S NOT A VERY ATTRACTIVE WAY TO DO IT.

Henderson: AND YOUR BAG OF HAMMERS WAS IN ESSENCE A PROPERTY TAX.

Rants: WELL, THERE ARE A COUPLE OF WAYS TO DO IT. ONE WOULD HAVE BEEN A PROPERTY TAX ON CASINOS. YOU COULD ALSO TAX THEM PER RACE THAT THEY RUN. YOU COULD TAX THE HANDLE. THERE ARE A NUMBER OF WAYS THAT THE RACETRACK CASINOS COULD HAVE BEEN TAXED. THE HOUSE WAS ABLE TO WORK OUT AN AGREEMENT. THE SENATE MAY HAVE A DIFFERENT OPINION. AND I JUST HOPE THAT WHATEVER THEY CHOOSE TO DO -- AND I KNOW THEY'RE WORKING VERY HARD ON IT -- THAT THEY WRAP IT UP FAIRLY QUICKLY AND GET IT BACK TO US.

Beck: ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I WONDERED IS IF THE TRACKS DO AGREE TO PAY SLIGHTLY HIGHER THAN WHAT WAS APPROVED IN THE HOUSE BILL, I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE MORE LIKELY THAT THEY WOULD REALLY TRY TO LOBBY AGAINST EXPANSION OUTSIDE OF WHAT THEY ALREADY HAVE BECAUSE THEY WOULDN'T WANT ANY MORE COMPETITION. DO YOU THINK THAT IF THEY PAY A HIGHER RATE THAT EXPANSION IS JUST OUT OF THE QUESTION?

Rants: I THINK THE TWO -- I UNDERSTAND WHY YOU'RE LINKING THE TWO ISSUES, AND I THINK PRAIRIE MEADOWS HERE IN POLK COUNTY CERTAINLY HAS AN INTEREST IN THAT, IN ENSURING THAT NOTHING ELSE HAPPENS AROUND THEM. THE INTERESTING THING IS THE HOUSE HAS ALREADY TAKEN THE POSITION THAT THERE WON'T BE NEW LICENSES.

Beck: IF THE SENATE APPROVES NEW LICENSES AND IT COMES BACK TO YOU WITH THAT, CAN THE HOUSE ACCEPT NEW LICENSES?

Rants: AND NOBODY KNOWS THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION YET. NOBODY HAS REALLY HAD A VOTE ON THAT OR DONE A LOT OF VOTE COUNTING. I THINK IT WILL HAVE A TOUGH GO IN THE HOUSE, BUT IT'S TOO EARLY TO SAY AT THIS POINT IN TIME.

Yepsen: WHEN YOU SAY IT WOULD HAVE A TOUGH GO IN THE HOUSE, WHAT DO YOU MEAN? I MEAN YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT EXPANDING THE NUMBER OF LICENSES, GIVING THAT AUTHORITY TO THE STATE GAMING REGULATORS, OR ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT -- WHO'VE KICKED THE ISSUE TO YOU? OR ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT SPECIFYING A NUMBER, ONE OR TWO, OR ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT SPECIFYING THE COMMUNITIES? WHAT WOULD BE -- WHAT WOULD BE SOMETHING YOUR MEMBERS COULD TAKE ON THAT QUESTION?

Rants: THE POSITION THE HOUSE -- REMEMBER, THE STATUS QUO WAS THE RACING AND GAMING COMMISSION HAD THE AUTHORITY TO ISSUE NEW LICENSES. THEY CHOSE NOT TO. THEY SAID THEY WANTED THE LEGISLATURE TO WEIGH IN. THAT'S ALSO WHAT THE GOVERNOR SAID. THE GOVERNOR SAID THIS IS A POLICY DECISION THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD MAKE. THE HOUSE HAS SAID THERE WILL BE NO NEW LICENSES. THAT'S THE POSITION WE'VE TAKEN. IF THE SENATE SENDS IT BACK, I WOULD THINK IT WOULD HAVE AN EASIER TIME IF THEY ACTUALLY SAID ONE NEW LICENSE OR TWO NEW LICENSES. THE PROBLEM OF SAYING WE'RE JUST GIVING IT BACK TO THE COMMISSION, ANTI-GAMERS THEN WILL LOOK AT THAT ISSUE AND SAY, GEEZ, WE COULD BE LOOKING AT FOUR, FIVE, SIX, OR SEVEN; WHO KNOWS? NINETY-NINE; WHO KNOWS? SO I THINK IF THE PROPONENTS OF EXPANSION REALLY WANTED TO HAVE MORE LICENSES, THEY'RE BETTER OFF TRYING FOR A SET NUMBER, ONE OR TWO, RATHER THAN PRESENTING THE HOUSE WITH SOMETHING THAT COULD BLOW THE BARN DOORS OFF.

Yepsen: AND WOULD THEY BE BETTER -- WOULD THEY BE BETTER OFF SPECIFYING WHERE THOSE LICENSES SHOULD GO OR LEAVING THAT UP TO THE COMMISSION?

Rants: I THINK THAT PROBABLY OUGHT TO BE LEFT UP TO THE COMMISSION. THAT'S CERTAINLY MUCH MORE POLITICALLY CHALLENGING, BECAUSE THEN YOU HAVE THE VARIOUS COMMUNITIES, IF THEY'RE NOT INCLUDED, THEIR LEGISLATORS ARE GOING TO LOBBY AGAINST IT. AS LONG AS THEY THINK THAT THERE IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THEM, THEY'RE COMPETING FOR ONE OR TWO LICENSES, THEN THEY'RE ALL STILL FOR IT.

Beck: ONE THING THE HOUSE WILL NOT HAVE TO DEAL WITH IS A RESOLUTION TO BAN SAME SEX MARRIAGE, TO ADD THAT TO THE IOWA CONSTITUTION. THE SENATE DEFEATED THAT THIS WEEK. ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED AT ALL?

Rants: YEAH, I WAS. I WAS SURPRISED BY THAT. I REALLY THOUGHT THAT THAT WOULD PASS AND THAT THERE WOULD BE BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR IT. IT'S UNFORTUNATE --

Beck: WELL, IOWA LAW --

Rants: IT'S UNFORTUNATE THAT IT DIDN'T PASS. IT'S AN ISSUE THAT I THINK THIS COUNTRY AS A WHOLE -- IT'S NOT UNIQUE TO IOWA -- IS GRAPPLING WITH A LOT, NOT BECAUSE OF WHAT LEGISLATORS HAVE DONE. I KEEP TELLING LEGISLATORS -- AND THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR THE PUBLIC TO UNDERSTAND WHEN THEY THINK ABOUT WHO THEY'RE GOING TO ELECT. LEGISLATORS RUN ON ISSUES. CANDIDATES RUN ON PARTICULAR ISSUES BUT THE PUBLIC ALSO HAS TO APPRECIATE THAT THERE ARE CERTAIN ISSUES THAT WILL BE THROWN ON OUR PLATE THAT WE NEVER CAMPAIGNED ON, WE NEVER EXPECTED, AND THIS IS ONE OF THOSE ISSUES. THE COURTS ACT, CURRENT EVENTS TAKE HOLD, AND ISSUES ARE PRESENTED BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE THAT WE DIDN'T ANTICIPATE. I THINK THIS WHOLE ISSUE OF GAY MARRIAGES IS ONE OF THOSE KINDS OF ISSUES.

Beck: IOWA DID ACT, THOUGH, SEVERAL YEARS AGO, SAYING THAT MARRIAGE IS ONLY LEGAL IN IOWA IF IT'S BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN. IS CHANGING OUR CONSTITUTION -- IT SEEMS LIKE A DRASTIC STEP. IS THAT REASONABLE?

Rants: WELL, WHAT WE'VE DISCOVERED IS UNLESS YOU PUT IT IN THE CONSTITUTION, THE COURTS CAN TAKE MATTERS INTO THEIR OWN HANDS. AND THAT'S WHY PROPONENTS HAVE SAID THAT IT OUGHT TO BE PUT IN THE CONSTITUTION SO THAT IT IS NOT SUSCEPTIBLE TO THAT CHANGE BY THE COURTS.

Beck: THAT SAID, DO YOU TRY TO RESURRECT THIS ISSUE THIS SESSION OR JUST HOLD OFF?

Rants: PROBABLY NOT IN THE LAST TWO WEEKS.

Henderson: THE STATE AUDITOR THIS PAST WEEK OFFERED HIS ASSESSMENT OF THE REPUBLICAN BUDGET PLAN THAT'S BEEN CRAFTED. HE WAS QUITE CRITICAL. HE SAID THAT YOU BORROWED UP TO $2 BILLION OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS, YOU HAVE NO REPAYMENT PLAN, YOU'RE DIPPING INTO THE CASH RESERVE, LEAVING NO CUSHION SHOULD THE ECONOMY WORSEN FOR SOME UNFORESEEN REASON. DO YOU SHARE HIS CONCERNS?

Rants: THE AUDITOR -- AND IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THE AUDITOR WAS CRITICAL OF US AS HE WAS CRITICAL OF THE GOVERNOR. THAT IS, TO A CERTAIN EXTENT, HIS JOB, IS TO MAKE SURE -- IS TO LOOK AT THE BALANCE SHEET. AND THAT'S ALL HE HAS TO LOOK AT IS HE HAS TO LOOK AT THE BALANCE SHEET. HE DOESN'T HAVE TO MAKE THE POLICY DECISIONS THAT THE LEGISLATURE HAS TO MAKE ABOUT FUNDING EDUCATION, ABOUT FUNDING OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM OR PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT. THOSE ARE POLICY DECISIONS. AND LEGISLATORS WERE FORCED WITH POLICY QUESTIONS: DO YOU WANT TO CUT FUNDING FOR EDUCATION; DO YOU WANT TO RAISE TAXES, AS THE GOVERNOR PROPOSED; OR IS THERE A BETTER WAY? AND WE BELIEVE, ALTHOUGH IT IS NOT PERFECT, THAT USING OUR CASH THAT IS CURRENTLY IN THE STATE'S BANK ACCOUNT TO PROVIDE FOR INCREASED FUNDING FOR EDUCATION, TO PROVIDE FOR A STABLE LEVEL OF FUNDING FOR OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, TO PROVIDE AN INCREASE IN FUNDING FOR PUBLIC SAFETY IS WORTH INCURRING THAT POTENTIAL DOWNSIDE OF USING THE CASH RESERVE. YOU KNOW, AT A TIME WHEN OUR REVENUES ARE ACTUALLY STARTING TO PICK UP -- AND AS OF THE OTHER DAY, WE'RE AT 2.5-PERCENT INCREASE FOR THE FISCAL YEAR THAT WE'RE IN RIGHT NOW. WE THOUGHT THAT THAT IS A PRUDENT USE OF THAT MONEY. IT IS VERY DIFFICULT FOR ME TO UNDERSTAND HOW ANYONE, INCLUDING THE GOVERNOR, CAN TALK ABOUT RAISING TAXES IN THIS STATE WHEN OUR ECONOMY IS ON THE MEND, TO TALK ABOUT RAISING TAXES, WHICH I THINK WOULD CRIPPLE OUR ECONOMY AT THIS TIME, WHEN YOU HAVE OVER $160 MILLION SITTING IN THE STATE'S BANK ACCOUNT NOT BEING USED FOR ANYTHING. EDUCATION SHOULDN'T HAVE TO BE CUT WHEN THAT MONEY IS THERE. WE SHOULDN'T HAVE TO CUT PUBLIC SAFETY OR HEALTH CARE WHEN THAT MONEY IS SITTING THERE BEING UNUSED.

Henderson: BUT THE AUDITOR HIMSELF SAYS YOU FOLKS ARE SETTING THE STATE UP TO RAISE TAXES NEXT YEAR BECAUSE OF THE BUDGET PLAN THAT YOU'VE PRODUCED.

Rants: I DISAGREE -- IS DISAGREE WITH THE AUDITOR ON THAT ABSOLUTELY. THERE IS NO REASON WHY WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO RAISE TAXES NEXT YEAR. AS I SAID, REVENUES ARE INCREASING RIGHT NOW. WE'RE GOING TO BE REFILLING THE CASH RESERVE EVEN AS WE TAKE MONEY OUT OF THAT. SOMETIMES THAT'S DIFFICULT FOR PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND. SO IF WE WALK YOUR VIEWERS THROUGH IT REAL QUICKLY, BEAR IN MIND WE'RE TAKING MONEY OUT THAT'S CURRENTLY SITTING IN THE CASH RESERVE. WE'RE BOUND BY LAW TO A 1.2-PERCENT INCREASE IN OUR GROWTH RATE THIS YEAR. THAT'S OUR REVENUE ESTIMATE. CURRENTLY WE'RE RUNNING AHEAD AT 2.5 PERCENT. SO THOSE DOLLARS THAT ARE COMING IN ABOVE EXPECTATIONS ARE GOING TO BE BACKFILLING THAT CASH RESERVE FUND FOR THIS NEXT YEAR AND THE FOLLOWING YEAR AFTER THAT.

Yepsen: BUT ISN'T THAT -- WHAT THE AUDITOR SAID, ISN'T THAT A PRETTY DAMNING INDICTMENT OF BOTH YOUR STEWARDSHIP AND THE GOVERNOR'S? I MEAN IF A $5-BILLION CORPORATION HAD ITS AUDITOR SAYING THE THINGS THAT THE STATE AUDITOR IS SAYING ABOUT THE STATE BUDGET, WOULDN'T THE SHAREHOLDERS BE GETTING A NEW CEO AND A NEW BOARD OF DIRECTORS?

Rants: I DON'T THINK SO, DAVID. I MEAN AGAIN --

Yepsen: WELL, YOU'RE SPENDING MORE THAN YOU TAKE IN --

Rants: THE AUDITOR DOESN'T HAVE TO GO BEFORE THE PUBLIC AND TALK ABOUT FUNDING EDUCATION, AND THAT'S CLEARLY A PRIORITY FOR US. BEAR IN MIND WHO WE OWE THE MONEY TO. THESE ARE FUNDS THAT THE STATE HAS USED WITHIN THE STATE BUDGET. IT'S NOT AS IF WE'RE GOING OUT AND BORROWING THE MONEY FROM SOMEONE ELSE. IT'S NOT AS IF WE'RE HAVING TO PAY IT BACK TO ANOTHER STATE OR TO PRIVATE BOND HOLDERS OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. THAT IS MONEY THAT IS CURRENTLY WITHIN DIFFERENT STATE BUDGET ITEMS. SO WE'RE USING DOLLARS THAT THE STATE ALREADY HAS. WE'RE USING IT -- WE'RE MOVING IT FROM ONE PART OF THE BUDGET TO ANOTHER PART OF THE BUDGET. SO IT SHOULDN'T BE CONFUSED WITH BORROWING THE MONEY FROM SOMEBODY ELSE. IT'S MAKING USE OF ALL REVENUE THAT IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE TO US.

Beck: ONE OF THE AUDITOR'S OTHER COMPLAINTS WAS THAT ALTHOUGH THERE'S A 99-PERCENT SPENDING LIMITATION THAT YOU ROUTINELY SPEND OVER THAT. AND I'VE HAD REPUBLICANS TELL ME THAT THEY ADMIT THAT THE MEDICAID BUDGET THIS YEAR MAY COME UP SHORT. THE GOVERNOR HAS SAID IT WILL COME UP SHORT. HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS SAY YOU HAVEN'T ACCOUNTED FOR NATURAL INCREASES IN HEALTH CARE. PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS ARE GOING TO GO UP. IF THAT HAPPENS AND YOU DO A BILL MIDYEAR TO PUT MORE MONEY INTO MEDICAID, YOU'VE ONCE AGAIN SPENT MORE THAN 99 PERCENT. ARE YOU SETTING IT UP TO DO THAT?

Rants: NO, I DON'T THINK WE ARE. IT'S IRONIC THAT NOW YOU'RE TALKING -- THAT THESE FOLKS ARE TALKING ABOUT THE FACT THAT OUR MEDICAID BUDGET MAY RUN SHORT. YOU KNOW, IT WASN'T A YEAR AGO THAT THE GOVERNOR SAID THAT WE HAD A SURPLUS IN OUR MEDICAID BUDGET, AND HE ACTUALLY TRANSFERRED $15 MILLION OUT OF IT. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT PEOPLE NEED TO KEEP IN MIND IS WE'RE LOOKING FOR SOME COST CONTAINMENT MEASURES. WE'RE TRYING TO DRAW DOWN ADDITIONAL FEDERAL DOLLARS. REMEMBER, MEDICAID IS A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE STATE AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. AND THROUGH THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA HOSPITALS AND CLINICS, WE'RE TRYING TO DRAW DOWN ADDITIONAL FEDERAL DOLLARS FOR INDIGENT CARE. SO WE THINK BETWEEN ADDITIONAL FEDERAL DOLLARS THAT WE'RE TRYING TO DRAW DOWN, AS WELL AS SOME OF THE COST CONTAINMENT MEASURES WE'RE PUTTING INTO PLACE, THAT OUR MEDICAID BUDGET SHOULD BE IN GOOD SHAPE FOR NEXT YEAR.

Beck: THERE HAVE BEEN CRITICS THAT HAVE SAID THAT MAYBE YOU'RE TRYING TO SET US UP FOR A CRISIS SO THAT MIDYEAR YOU COULD CUT ELIGIBILITY OR CUT BENEFITS.

Rants: NO. AND ACTUALLY, WE'VE TALKED ABOUT CUTTING ELIGIBILITY BEFORE -- OR EXCUSE ME, LOOKING AT THE DIFFERENT BENEFIT LEVELS BEFORE, AND IT'S NEVER WORKED OUT. IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE TO, YOU KNOW, TELL A PERSON THAT THEY CAN'T, FOR INSTANCE, SEE THEIR PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR IF THEY'RE ONLY GOING TO END UP IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM LATER. WE'VE LOOKED AT THOSE KINDS OF THINGS BEFORE, AND WE HAVEN'T DOWN IT. UNLIKE A LOT OF OTHER STATES, IOWA HASN'T REDUCED ELIGIBILITY. WE HAVEN'T REDUCED BENEFITS. WE'VE TRIED TO CONTROL COSTS IN OTHER WAYS.

Henderson: ONE OF THE THINGS YOU JUST MENTIONED A FEW MINUTES AGO IS THAT THE ECONOMY WAS IMPROVING, YET CONSUMER SPENDING IS SORT OF FLAT. CONSUMERS REALLY AREN'T CONFIDENT ABOUT THIS ECONOMY. THERE ARE SOME STORM CLOUDS ON THE HORIZON. STEEL PRICES ARE WHACKY. YOU HAVE SOME OTHER FACTORS. THERE COULD BE ANOTHER TERRORISM ATTACK. WHY ARE YOU PUTTING SO MUCH EMPHASIS ON THE FACT THAT THINGS ARE GOING TO GET BETTER IN THE FUTURE?

Rants: WELL, IN PART I'M LOOKING AT WHAT'S BEEN REPORTED RECENTLY IN THE NEWS ABOUT INTENTIONS ON THE PART OF COMPANIES HERE IN IOWA TO INCREASE THEIR PAYROLLS. WHEN YOU LOOK AT AND HEAR FROM COMPANIES ACROSS THE STATE THAT ARE TALKING ABOUT INCREASING PAYROLLS, THAT'S PUTTING MORE PEOPLE BACK TO WORK, THAT'S GOOD NEWS. I'M LOOKING AT OUR REVENUE NUMBERS. AAH, 2.5 PERCENT ISN'T GREAT COMPARED TO WHAT WE WERE EXPERIENCING IN 1994, BUT IT'S A FAR SIGHT BETTER THAN WHAT WE'VE BEEN EXPERIENCING IN THE PAST THREE OR FOUR YEARS. I BELIEVE WE ARE EXPERIENCING ECONOMIC RECOVERY. ALL SIGNS ARE POINTING TO THAT. SURE, THERE IS SOME UNCERTAINTY OUT THERE. GAS PRICES AREN'T PARTICULARLY HELPING RIGHT NOW, AND THAT'S A SIGNIFICANT CONCERN OF THOSE OF US WHO ARE PARTICULARLY DRIVING BACK AND FORTH ON THE INTERSTATE THESE DAYS. BUT I THINK THERE ARE UNDERLINING GOOD SIGNS TO IOWA'S ECONOMY.

Yepsen: ON THAT GAS PRICE QUESTION, JUST REAL QUICKLY, THERE'S NOTHING THE LEGISLATURE CAN OR IS PLANNING ON DOING ABOUT THAT?

Rants: WELL, THERE'S NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT.

Beck: ONE OF THE THINGS YOU MENTIONED AT THE TOP OF THE SHOW WAS WHETHER OR NOT TO SELL THE IOWA COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK. I REMEMBER WHEN THAT WAS ESTABLISHED. MY MOTHER-IN-LAW SENT ME A HEADLINE THAT HAD APPEARED IN HER PAPER THAT SAYS, "I'VE SEEN THE FUTURE, IT'S IN IOWA." AND IT WAS TALKING ABOUT HOW SCHOOLS THROUGHOUT THE STATE WERE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER BECAUSE OF THIS FIBER OPTICS NETWORK. SHOULD WE SELL IT?

Rants: I BELIEVE THAT WE SHOULD SELL IT. BEAR IN MIND THAT I SAY WE SHOULD SELL IT WITH A COUPLE CAVEATS: ONE, THAT WE CONTINUE TO MAINTAIN OUR SERVICES TO OUR EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS, WHETHER THEY BE COMMUNITY COLLEGES OR K-12; AND THAT WE ALSO MAKE SURE WE PROTECT OUR INVESTMENT FOR OUR NATIONAL GUARD AND OUR ARMORIES IN THE WAY THAT'S BEING HOOKED UP. BUT THE STATE HAS REACHED A CRITICAL JUNCTURE. WE'VE ABOUT PAID OFF THE BONDS FOR THE EXISTING SET OF INFRASTRUCTURE THAT WE HAVE RIGHT NOW AND THE EXISTING EQUIPMENT, THE BLACK BOXES THAT SEND A LIGHT THROUGH THE FIBER OPTICS. WELL, THEN WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO START REINVESTING AGAIN TO MAINTAIN IT AND TO UPGRADE IT SO IT STAYS STATE OF THE ART. NOW IS THE TIME TO HAVE THAT DISCUSSION. SHOULD THE STATE CONTINUE TO OPERATE IT AT A LOSS, WHERE YOU LIMIT THE NUMBER OF CUSTOMERS WE HAVE, WHICH MEANS THE TAXPAYERS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO CONTINUE TO SUBSIDIZE THAT THING, OR IS IT TIME TO UNLOAD OURSELVES OF THAT, TURN IT OVER TO THE PRIVATE SECTOR, WHERE I BELIEVE IT BELONGS, WITH THOSE TWO CAVEATS, THAT WE STILL MAINTAIN OUR COMMITMENT TO EDUCATION, WE STILL MAINTAIN OUR COMMITMENT TO THE NATIONAL GUARD? I BELIEVE THAT IT SHOULD BE SOLD. I DON'T THINK THE TAXPAYERS ARE IN ANY POSITION TO OPERATE A TELEPHONE COMPANY. WE DON'T DO THOSE KINDS OF THINGS VERY WELL, AND WE OUGHT TO TURN IT OVER TO THOSE PEOPLE WHO DO.

Henderson: BUT WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THE SMALL TELEPHONE COMPANY IN A SMALL TOWN IN IOWA OR IOWA NETWORK SERVICES, WHICH IS SORT OF A CONGLOMERATION, THAT THE STATE IS GOING TO REALLY COME DOWN HARD ON THEM IF SOME BIG BEHEMOTH COMES IN AND BUYS THAT FIBER OPTIC IN THEIR SERVICE AREA AND ESSENTIALLY THE STATE IS GIVING A NEW COMPETITOR AN UNDERHAND --

Rants: A NEW COMPETITOR CAN EXIST TODAY. YOU ARE RAISING A VALID POINT, THAT WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT WE GET A FAIR PRICE FOR IT, THAT IT IS NOT SOLD AT A FIRE SALE PRICE. COMPETITION, I BELIEVE, IS A GOOD THING. IF WE TRULY WANT BROADBAND SERVICE, I MEAN HIGH-SPEED INFORMATION AND DATA AVAILABLE -- AND THAT'S GOING TO BE IMPORTANT FOR RURAL IOWA -- THEN WE DO HAVE TO HAVE COMPETITION OUT THERE. IT'S IRONIC, WE'RE GOING THROUGH A DISCUSSION RIGHT NOW BETWEEN PEOPLE WHO ARE TALKING ABOUT DEREGULATING QUEST AND PEOPLE WHO ARE TALKING ABOUT SELLING OFF THE ICN, ABOUT WHETHER WE HAVE COMPETITION FOR TELECOMMUNICATION SERVICES OR WHETHER WE DON'T AND WHAT IT'S GOING TO TAKE TO PROMOTE COMPETITION. EVERYBODY AGREES THAT WE NEED MORE SERVICE ALL ACROSS THE STATE, INCLUDING IN URBAN AREAS SUCH AS SIOUX CITY. THE QUESTION IS WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO DO IT.

Henderson: THIS PAST WEEK THE IOWA HOUSE PASSED A BILL THAT ESSENTIALLY SETS FEDERAL STANDARDS FOR AIR QUALITY IN AND AROUND LIVESTOCK OPERATIONS IN IOWA, FEDERAL STANDARDS FROM THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL. WHAT'S YOUR BEEF WITH STATE ENVIRONMENTAL OFFICIALS? WHY WON'T YOU LET THEM SET THE RULES?

Rants: I DON'T HAVE A BEEF WITH STATE ENVIRONMENTAL OFFICIALS. OUR GOAL IN THIS WHOLE DEBATE WAS TO DEPOLITICIZE THIS PROCESS, TAKE THE POLITICS OUT OF IT. IT DOESN'T DO ANY GOOD FOR A REPUBLICAN SAYING THAT THE THRESHOLD FOR AMMONIA SHOULD BE "X" NUMBER OF PARTS PER BILLION AND A DEMOCRAT LEGISLATOR SAY, NO, THE THRESHOLD FOR AMMONIA OR HYDROGEN SULFIDE SHOULD BE "Y" NUMBER OF PARTS PER BILLION. TO A LOT OF US, THERE AREN'T THAT MANY SCIENTISTS CURRENTLY SERVING IN THE IOWA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. I WISH WE HAD A FEW, BUT WE DON'T. SO IT'S IMPORTANT THAT WE BASE IT ON SOUND SCIENCE. SO WE TURN TO WHERE EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE WORLD TURNS. WE WENT TO THE CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL OUT OF ATLANTA -- THAT'S WHERE EVERYBODY ELSE TURNS -- FOR INFORMATION AND DATA ON WHAT HEALTHY STANDARDS ARE. EVEN DEAN WOTEKI FROM IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY HAS ENDORSED THIS. THAT'S WHY WE WENT THERE. WE WANTED TO TAKE IT OUT OF THE HANDS OF POLITICIANS AND PUT IT IN THE HANDS OF EXPERTS AND USE THEIR DATA AND THEIR RECOMMENDATIONS.

Beck: THAT BEING SAID, THE CDC ADMITS THAT THOSE STANDARDS ARE ABOUT TWENTY YEARS OLD. THEY WERE BASED ON SOME SCIENCE DONE WITH LAB MICE. THEY ARE LOOKING AT NEW RESULTS THAT WERE TESTS DONE ON HUMANS. IF THEY CHANGE THOSE RESULTS WITHIN THE NEXT YEAR AND --

Rants: THEN WE SHOULD TAKE THAT INTO CONSIDERATION. IF THEY MAKE THOSE CHANGES, THEN THE LEGISLATURE HAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO COME BACK AND MAKE THAT CHANGE IN THE CODE. BUT OUR GOAL --

Beck: WOULD YOU COMMIT TO THAT IF THEY'RE STRICTER?

Rants: WELL, I'D LIKE TO SEE WHAT IT IS, AND I'D LIKE TO SEE WHEN THEY MAKE THOSE CHANGES. YOU NEVER WANT TO SIGN A BLANK CHECK FOR ANYBODY, BUT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE -- I WOULD LIKE TO SEE WHAT WE DO TO BE BASED UPON SOUND SCIENCE.

Yepsen: MR. SPEAKER, WE'VE GOT WAY TOO MANY QUESTIONS AND NOT ENOUGH TIME, SO A QUICK COUPLE QUESTIONS HERE. THE LOCAL OPTION SALES TAX FOR SCHOOLS HAS BEEN A VERY CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE IN OUR STATE. WILL THIS LEGISLATURE DO ANYTHING BEFORE IT GOES HOME?

Rants: I DON'T SEE THAT THERE'S MUCH OF A NEED TO DO ANYTHING THIS YEAR BASED ON WHAT WE DID LAST YEAR THAT CREATED THIS LARGER POOL FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO JOIN. YOU'VE SEEN DISTRICTS ACROSS THE STATE ENTER THAT POOL. I THINK THAT'S REALLY SETTLED THE ISSUE FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE.

Henderson: ONE OF THE THINGS THAT SOME OF US HAVE NOTICED IS THAT LEGISLATORS HAVE SORT OF AVOIDED FIGHTS THIS YEAR. THE BUDGET PLAN THAT YOU'VE DEVELOPED TAKES THE ABORTION FIGHT OUT THAT SOME ABORTION OPPONENTS HAD HOPED WOULD BE WAGED IN THE CONTEXT OF THE STATE BUDGET. WHY ARE YOU AVOIDING CONTROVERSY AS REPUBLICANS?

Rants: I DON'T THINK THAT WE ARE AVOIDING CONTROVERSY. THAT'S INTERESTING TO HEAR YOU SAY THAT. AT OUR THURSDAY PRESS CONFERENCES, YOU GUYS ARE ALWAYS BRINGING ME ALL THE CONTROVERSIAL THINGS THAT THE DEMOCRATS HAVE LAID OUT. I DON'T THINK THAT THERE'S AN EFFORT TO AVOID CONTROVERSY. I MEAN, IF ANYTHING WE'VE BEEN ACCUSED OF WITH OUR PRO BUSINESS AGENDA, TRYING TO IMPROVE IOWA'S BUSINESS CLIMATE, MOST OF THOSE DEBATES HAVE BEEN FAIRLY LONG, CONTENTIOUS DEBATES. I STILL THINK THOSE ARE THE RIGHT THINGS TO DO. THE INTERESTING THING WITH THE BUDGET -- AND I THINK THIS IS MAYBE WHERE YOU'RE GOING -- IS THAT THERE ISN'T AS MUCH CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING THE BUDGET. I MEAN WHEN YOU HAVE LIMITED RESOURCES AVAILABLE --

Henderson: IT'S A GET-ALONG/GO-ALONG -- GO-ALONG-TO-GET-ALONG BUDGET.

Rants: THEN I CERTAINLY HOPE THE GOVERNOR WILL SIGN IT AND WE CAN END THIS DISCUSSION ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT THERE WILL BE A SPECIAL SESSION AND THE DEMOCRATS WILL COME ON BOARD.

Henderson: BUT I THOUGHT REPUBLICANS WERE FOR LESSER GOVERNMENT. YOU HAVEN'T CUT A SINGLE PROGRAM.

Rants: OH, DON'T -- I DON'T THINK YOU CAN SAY THAT. BEAR IN MIND WE'RE GOING TO CUT SPENDING BY $70 MILLION. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO LOSE THEIR JOBS IN STATE GOVERNMENT. THERE ARE GOING TO BE LAYOFFS IN THIS STATE. PEOPLE WILL TEND TO FORGET BECAUSE THERE HAVE BEEN CONGENIAL DISCUSSIONS ABOUT INCREASED FUNDING FOR COMMUNITY COLLEGES OR K-12 OR HEALTH CARE, WHEREVER THE CASE MIGHT BE. THERE ARE STILL SOME VERY SERIOUS CUTS IN THIS BUDGET THAT ARE GOING TO IMPACT STATE EMPLOYEES. I MEAN ONE OF THE DECISIONS THAT EVERYBODY HAS AGREED TO -- AND I THINK MAYBE THAT'S WHY IT HASN'T BEEN AS CONTROVERSIAL, BECAUSE EVERYBODY HAS AGREED TO THIS -- IS THAT WE CAN'T FUND THE SALARY BILL. THE SALARY PACKAGE THAT WAS NEGOTIATED BY AFSCME AND THE GOVERNOR ISN'T GOING TO BE FUNDED. THAT MEANS $70 MILLION LESS FOR STATE EMPLOYEE SALARIES, AND THERE ARE GOING TO BE LAYOFFS BECAUSE OF THAT.

Beck: AND AS THE LAYOFFS OCCUR, YOU WILL BE OUT CAMPAIGNING. YOU HAVE ONE NEW MEMBER. YOU HAVE ONE LESS SEAT TO HAVE TO PROTECT AS YOU GO OUT AND CAMPAIGN. ARE YOU GOING TO HOLD ON TO THE MAJORITY IN THE HOUSE?

Rants: I THINK REPUBLICANS ARE IN THE BEST SHAPE WE'VE EVER BEEN IN. WE HAVE 50 INCUMBENTS RUNNING FOR REELECTION THIS YEAR. WE'VE GOT CANDIDATES IN ALL SEVEN OF THE OPEN SEATS. UNFORTUNATELY -- WELL, FORTUNATELY FOR ME, THE DEMOCRATS CAN'T MAKE THE SAME CLAIM. THEY DIDN'T RECRUIT CANDIDATES IN ALL OF THE OPEN SEATS, AND THAT'S WHERE THE FIRST BATTLE LIES. I FEEL PRETTY GOOD ABOUT WHERE WE'RE AT. WE'VE RECRUITED GREAT CANDIDATES. WE'VE GOT A NUMBER OF EDUCATORS THAT ARE RUNNING ON THE REPUBLICAN TICKET IN SOME OF THOSE BELLWETHER RACES, WHETHER IT BE CANDIDATES LIKE MIKE MAY UP IN NORTHWEST IOWA -- I SENSE WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME.

Yepsen: YOU GOT IT. I WAS JUST ABOUT READY TO CUT YOU OFF. SO I'LL DO IT NOW. THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER, FOR BEING WITH US.

Rants: HAPPY TO BE HERE.

Yepsen: APPRECIATE IT. NOW, ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS," OUR SPOTLIGHT REMAINS ON THE IOWA STATEHOUSE BUT OUR FOCUS SHIFTS FROM THE HOUSE TO THE SENATE. JOINING US ARE SENATOR JEFF LAMBERTI, A REPUBLICAN FROM ANKENY WHO IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE IOWA SENATE, AND SENATOR MIKE GRONSTAL, DEMOCRAT FROM COUNCIL BLUFFS WHO SERVES AS MINORITY LEADER. WE RETURN NEXT WEEK AT OUR REGULAR AIRTIMES: FRIDAY AT 7:30 AND SUNDAY AT NOON. I HOPE YOU'LL BE JOINING US. I'M DAVID YEPSEN OF "THE DES MOINES REGISTER" SITTING IN FOR DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR BEING WITH US HERE ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. CAPTIONS BY: MIDWEST CAPTIONING DES MOINES, IOWA

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS," THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION... GENERATIONS OF FAMILIES AND FRIENDS WHO FEEL PASSIONATE ABOUT THE PROGRAMS THEY WATCH ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION;

AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE.