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Capitol Digest 4-12-12

James Q. Lynch, CR Gazette –

A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Thursday, April 12, 2012:

REJECTED: Iowa Senate Democrats blocked the confirmation of a Dubuque woman to the Board of Medicine despite finding her truthful, honest and “very committed.”

It was her association with anti-abortion activists that disqualified Colleen Pasnik, according to Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, who urged the Senate to reject Gov. Terry Branstad’s nomination of Pasnik to a three-year term.

The Senate voted 29-18, short of the two-thirds majority needed for confirmation.

The governor was disappointed in the Senate’s rejection of Pasnik, according to a spokesman. Branstad believed Pasnik would have been an “excellent addition” to the board and stands by his nominee.

Hatch said Pasnik’s association with people who were convicted of bombing an abortion clinic and the “more radical” opponents might be unable to provide unbiased judgment of doctors and providers who come before the board “on serious matters of medicine.”

Sen. Mark Chelgren, R-Ottumwa, defended Pasnik as “someone who lives their life based on Catholic convictions. “I see nothing to prevent me from voting for her.”

SIGNED INTO LAW: Gov. Branstad signed 20 pieces of legislation into law including SF 2245 addressing the establishment of a dual diagnosis treatment program for posttraumatic stress at the Iowa Veterans Home, HF 2226 regarding child abuse reports and disposition data and SF 2164 regarding the Department of Human Services’ evaluations of criminal or abuse records of employees of health care facilities and child care facilities and homes.

For more on these and other bills the governor signed, visit

GOT IDEAS: Here’s a tax-season twist, the Iowa Department of Revenue wants your help. Officials in the state’s tax collection agency want you to share your thoughts on how the revenue department can improve its services for taxpayers and tax professionals. As a way to solicit input, the state agency has placed a “Got Ideas” e-mail link near the top of every page of its Web site: The link walks survey participants through 10 questions about various aspects of the department’s services and resources. Just as a reminder, this month’s deadline for filing federal personal income tax returns is April 17, and the deadline for filing Iowa personal income tax returns is April 30.

99% SPRING: More than 200 farmers, immigrants, laborers, nurses, students, teachers, union members and others are expected to attend Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement’s “Statewide Summit to Confront Corporate Power” April 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Des Moines Central Library downtown.

The Iowa summit is part of the national “99% Spring” campaign organized by a coalition of labor unions, community organizations, and faith groups to train 100,000 people in nonviolent civil disobedience April 9-15 before taking to the streets for direct action protests at 40 corporate shareholder meetings across the country.

For more information, visit

BUILDING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: More than 500 public health professionals are expected to attend the two-day Iowa Governor’s Conference on Public Health April 17 and 18 at the Scheman Conference Center in Ames. Featuring more than 40 educational sessions, the conference theme is ‘Creating Change by Building Healthy Communities.’

The program will include Emily Friedman, an independent writer, lecturer and health policy and ethics analyst, and Dr. Richard Jackson, a UCLA professor known for his work on the impact of the environment on health, particularly as it relates to children. Much of his focus is on how the ‘built environment,’ including architecture and urban planning, affects health.

For more information, visit

Quote of the Day: “It’s 176.8 miles from the Capitol steps to the doorsteps back home, but in some ways it’s like taking a trip to the moon. I mean it’s two totally different worlds.” – Rep. Steve Lukan, R-New Vienna, in his retirement speech

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