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Capitol Digest 2-28-12

This news story was published on February 29, 2012.
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James Q. Lynch, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa –

A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012:

BLACK HISTORY CELEBRATION: Iowa legislators will host the state’s Black History Month Celebration at noon Feb. 29 in the House chambers at the Capitol.

A Black History Month proclamation will be read and signed by Gov. Terry Branstad. There will also be performances depicting African American history through music, poetry, and drama.

FARM LABOR: While in Washington over the weekend, Gov. Terry Branstad pressed the Department of Labor to drop proposals for “onerous” regulations that would limit youth labor on farms.

The department has been considering restrictions on youth – including family members — working on farms, especially regarding the operation of power equipment.

Branstad said he and other governors used their meeting with federal officials to push for real solutions to common challenges.”

“Sometimes that simply means getting the federal government out of the way,” he said.

“As one who grew up on a farm and worked on a farm as a young person, I understand how devastating some of those rules could be to family farmers,” Branstad said.

HUNTING AND TRAPPING: The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is hosting public meetings March 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Ames, Burlington, Carroll, Centerville, Clear Lake, Council Bluffs, Creston, Decorah, Fort Dodge, Johnston, La Porte City, Marshalltown, Onawa, Ottumwa, Peosta, Sheldon and Spencer to discuss possible changes in the hunting and trapping regulations for this fall.

The changes would affect deer and waterfowl hunters as well as hunters and trappers who pursue bobcats and otters. Proposed changes would stabilize deer numbers in some areas, potentially add a third zone for waterfowl and increase the harvest number of otters and bobcats.

The list of possible changes can be found at

Comments may be sent to

DRUG CZAR A GOOD IDEA: Gov. Terry Branstad said Tuesday he is not ready to eliminate the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy and shift duties now conducted by the office’s coordinator to the state’s public health and public safety agencies.

Democrats who control the Iowa Senate voted Monday to make that change as a way to save money and streamline government functions. Branstad told reporters the office’s activities only amount to about $290,000, but it is a beneficial part of government because it keeps a state and local focus on combating drug use and coordinates federal grant funds available for local entities to use for drug education, prevention and interdiction efforts.

“I really question what is the benefit of splitting it up and diffusing it as opposed on having it focused on controlling illegal drugs. I think that’s important and I think that’s an issue that should not be diminished. I think that’s a real threat to the health and well-being of our citizens,” he told his weekly news conference. Branstad said the state continues to see problems associated with the illegal use of prescription drugs, synthetic drugs and other substances that pose a threat to citizens.

JUSTICES ON THE ROAD: The seven-member Iowa Supreme Court is continuing its policy of conducting court proceedings around the state. Court officials announced that the Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Bettendorf on April 10.

The court proceedings will take place at the Pleasant Valley High School auditorium, located at 604 Belmont Road. The session will begin at 7 p.m. The justices will hear attorneys argue in two cases yet to be announced.

The Iowa Supreme Court hears cases on appeal, which involves the review of a decision of another court. During oral arguments, the court does not conduct trials, hear witnesses, or admit new evidence. The court determines whether legal errors were committed in the rendering of the lower court’s judgment or order. The Supreme Court can affirm—uphold the decision or order of the lower court, reverse—set aside the decision or order, or remand—send the case back to the lower court with instructions, including instructions to hold a new trial. For more information, visit

Quote of the Day: “There is incredible inertia in the education industry. We spend $5 billion (state and local resources) a year on K-12 education. We use a calendar that was invented in the 19th Century … institutions invented in the 19th Century. If we want to compete in the world, we can’t be tied to some of these 19th Century traditions. We have to break with the past.” House Education Committee Chairman Greg Forristall, R-Macedonia

–Compiled by the Des Moines Bureau

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