That time has come once again. It is time to re-draw Iowa’s congressional districts (four total), State Senate districts (50 total) and Iowa House districts (100 total).
Iowa has one of the fairest and most reputable redistricting systems in the nation. It truly is a model for other states and Iowans should be proud of it. This process is done without reference to political considerations or residences of current incumbents.
Instead, non-partisan staffers with the state’s Legislative Services Agency (LSA) take the population data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and generate districts that are as similar to each other as possible in terms of population.
Friday, April 1st, is the second funnel, a key deadline for the 2011 Legislative Session. By the close of business on that day all Senate bills must be out of House Committees and all House bills must be out of Senate Committees in order to remain eligible for debate this year. Any bill not passed out of its respective committee is not eligible for debate during the remainder of this Legislative Session.
The second funnel trims the amount of legislation eligible for consideration by the two chambers. However, the funnel deadline is not without exceptions. Both Ways and Means and Appropriations bills are exempt from the funnel. To be considered an Appropriations or Ways and Means bill, one of these two committees must sponsor the bill or be the committee of first referral in the Senate. All tax and spend bills, if not sponsored by these committees, must be referred to these committees. Thus, any legislation which spends money or levies a tax is eligible until the last day of the Legislative Session, which is scheduled to end on Friday, April 29th.
Senate File 431 – The Agriterrorism Bill certainly has drawn a lot of attention during the last two weeks. However another bill, SF 478, pertaining to the welfare of animals in a livestock feeding operation has moved through the Agriculture Committee and passed in the Senate unanimously.
This bill provides for the purchase of feed in case the owner of the animals encounters financial problems and can’t procure feed. This bill allows the Department of Agriculture to purchase the feed and acquire a lien to recoup the cost upon sale of the animals. Currently this capability rests in the hands of the county. Some counties do not have funds available for this. Therefore, we can assure that livestock in this situation will get the care and feed they need by moving this authority to the Department of Agriculture. This has only happened a handful of times in recent history, however, with the high costs of feedstuffs these types of situations may occur more often. It is important to have this mechanism in place. Stockmen strive to be the best caretakers they can be and this will be another tool for them.
Our rules and regulations tour has ended and now the compilation of all the testimony is taking place. We hope to address some of the issues through the rules and regulations committee relatively soon. Some of the bigger issues may need to be addressed by the full Legislature.
I want to thank everyone who attended and took time out of your day to share your concerns.
Hopefully we’ll be wrapping up in a few weeks.
See you out and about!
State Senator Tim Kapucian (R-Keystone)