Capitol Update for March 22nd, 2012

Recap of Week 11

This Wednesday I met with a group from the Dubuque and Delaware County Farm Bureau.

I will be attending the Farm Bureau Forum in Dyersville on Saturday, March 31st from 10-12 am and the Country Junction. Please come and share any comments or questions you may have.

Supreme Court Issues Item-Veto Case Ruling

Last week, the Iowa Supreme Court issued its decision on the Workforce Development Field Office Line-Item Veto lawsuit. The Court ruled against the Governor and stated that his vetoes were unconstitutional. The remedy of the ruling is that the portions of the Economic Development budget bill that were impermissibly vetoed did NOT become law, but that the other portions of the bill did. There is nothing in the Supreme Court decision that requires the closed Field Offices to reopen.

The decision was for the lawsuit AFSCME and a number of Democrat Representatives and Senators brought against Governor Branstad’s use of the item-veto for Senate File 517, the Economic Development Appropriation Bill. At issue was the Governor’s item-veto of three portions of the bill. Two of those provisions related to Workforce Development Field Offices and the other was related to a restriction of funds in administering a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) Program.

The Supreme Court ruled against the Governor on the two questions involving the Field Offices (affirming the lower court’s ruling) and against the Governor in the question of the NCRC program (reversing the lower court’s ruling).

The Supreme Court found that both of the field office-related paragraphs were conditions of the appropriation, and thus unable to be vetoed without vetoing the appropriation as well. The Supreme Court found that the ‘definitions’ section of the bill, which provided for a definition of field office was inextricably linked to the appropriation, and thus could not be separated. 

Lastly, the Supreme Court reversed the portion of the lower court’s ruling that favored the Governor’s position, the portion dealing with the NCRC program. Senate File 517 had a section that stated that IWD could not spend any moneys appropriated to it for purposes of the NCRC program. The lower court thought this restriction was overly broad, and thus, able to be item-vetoed. The Supreme Court reversed this and stated it was not overly broad and could be vetoed.

The Supreme Court did agree with the Governor on the remedy to the problem if, as the Supreme Court ruled, the vetoes were unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court did not agree with the lower court’s opinion on the remedy, and instead said that “…the proper remedy for an invalid veto of a condition on an appropriation is to invalidate the entire item containing the appropriation.” The lower court had ruled that “Senate File 517 became law as if the Governor had not exercised the item vetoes which were herein determined to be void.” This would have meant that the entire bill was approved (including the definitions and restrictions on the appropriations). Instead, only the line-item vetoed sections of the bill were thrown out.

Because a two-year budget was passed last year, these same provisions occurred later in SF 517 corresponding to the second year. The Supreme Court ruled that the second year item-vetoes were unconstitutional in the same way they were for the first year. Those corresponding sections were deemed not to have been passed into law.

The Governor’s office filed an injunction with the Supreme Court to put a stay on its ruling, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on the motion. When the judgment is entered by the lower court (this usually takes around 21 days), then it’s as if those vetoed sections of the bill never became law. Members from the House, Senate, and representatives of the Governor’s office continue to talk about the process to re-authorize funding for the affected areas. There is nothing in the Supreme Court decision that requires the closed Field Offices to reopen.

2012 Century and Heritage Farm Applications Available

Recently the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) issued a press release in which Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey encouraged eligible farm owners to apply for the 2012 Century and Heritage Farm Program.  The program is sponsored by IDALS and the Iowa Farm Bureau and recognizes families that have owned their farm for 100 years in the case of Century Farms and 150 years for Heritage Farms. 

Applications are available on the Department’s website at www.IowaAgriculture.gov  by clicking on the Century Farm or Heritage Farm link under “Hot Topics.”  Applications may also be requested from Becky Lorenz, Coordinator of the Century and Heritage Farm Program via phone at 515-281-3645, email at Becky.Lorenz@IowaAgriculture.gov  or by writing to Century or Heritage Farms Program, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Henry A. Wallace Building, 502 E. 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50319.

Farm families seeking to qualify for the Century or Heritage Farms Program must submit an application to the Department no later than June 1, 2012.  The ceremony to recognize the 2012 Century and Heritage Farms will be held at the Iowa State Fair and is scheduled for Tuesday, August 14th.  The Century Farm program began in 1976 as part of the Nation’s Bicentennial Celebration and over 17,000 farms from across the state have received this recognition.  The Heritage Farm program was started in 2006, on the 30th anniversary of the Century Farm program, and more than 500 farms have been recognized.  Last year 341 Century Farms and 56 Heritage Farms were recognized.

Iowa Ranks Seventh in Government Openness

A study entitled the “State Integrity Investigation” done by the Center for Public Integrity ranks Iowa seventh among the fifty states on government openness. The study used a list of 330 indicators, covering many topics including transparency and vulnerability to corruption.

Iowa had a total score of 78. New Jersey scored the highest with an 87 and Georgia ranked last with a total score of 49. Iowa’s high marks came because of our laws on transparency and vulnerability to corruption. Iowa received “A’s” for the redistricting process and for the management of the state pension fund. Iowa lost points for laws on open records and civil service management.

For more information visit: http://www.iwatchnews.org/accountability/state-integrity-investigation.

Senate Fails to Protect Iowa Youth from Dangerous Synthetic Drugs

Last week more Iowa high school students were sent to the emergency room after smoking K2.  A few days later, the Iowa Senate did not advance legislation that was designed to protect Iowa’s kids from these deadly drugs. 

House File 2398 received unanimous support in the House and added more synthetic drugs to the list already classified as schedule I controlled substances.  The bill goes further than legislation last year, which added some synthetic drug compounds, as well as salvia divinorum, to the list of schedule I controlled substances.  Working with the Department of Public Safety, the Office of Drug Control Policy and the Pharmacy Board, HF 2398 expands the list by adding several hundred synthetic compounds.

Last year, after the Governor signed legislation banning K2, many producers attempted to alter the synthetic compounds to avoid the law.  Unfortunately, this led to many products on the market that may not have been covered under current law.  HF 2398, rectifies that problem.  Anyone who manufactures, delivers, or possesses with the intent to deliver or manufacture these substances, or counterfeit substances, can be charged with an aggravated misdemeanor.  An aggravated misdemeanor is punishable by a fine between $625 and $6,250 and up to two years of confinement.  A person who is arrested for a first offense possession is guilty of a serious misdemeanor.  A serious misdemeanor carries a fine between $315 and $1,875 and up to one year confinement.

The Senate’s failure to act promptly on this bill puts countless Iowans in danger and could lead to more emergency room visits as officials try to reign in these drugs.  House Republicans are working hard to keep the bill alive and Iowa’s youth protected.

As always, feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions or comments by email at lee.hein@legis.state.ia.us or by phone at 515-291-7330.

Sincerely,

Lee Hein 

 

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