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March 2011

Gov. Terry E. Branstad signs HF 267 into law

DES MOINES, IA. -- Gov. Terry E. Branstad today signed the following legislation into law:  

House File 267:  An act relating to the historical division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, including the identification of historic properties by certain rural electric cooperatives and including effective date provisions.

Iran believes unrest means Islamic Messiah is near

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly said he is trying to hasten the return of the 12th Imam, and the only way to do that is through chaos. That's why they believe that the current unrest is a sign that the time is near. Why should that scare the pants off of everyone else who doesn't believe in the same things Iran does? The man who uncovered yesterday's shocking Iranian video, CBN reporter Erick Stakelbeck, gives the disturbing answer and more in an interview on radio today. Get all the details at

What Happened to the American Declaration of War?

By George Friedman

In my book “The Next Decade,” I spend a good deal of time considering the relation of the American Empire to the American Republic and the threat the empire poses to the republic. If there is a single point where these matters converge, it is in the constitutional requirement that Congress approve wars through a declaration of war and in the abandonment of this requirement since World War II. This is the point where the burdens and interests of the United States as a global empire collide with the principles and rights of the United States as a republic.

World War II was the last war the United States fought with a formal declaration of war. The wars fought since have had congressional approval, both in the sense that resolutions were passed and that Congress appropriated funds, but the Constitution is explicit in requiring a formal declaration. It does so for two reasons, I think. The first is to prevent the president from taking the country to war without the consent of the governed, as represented by Congress. Second, by providing for a specific path to war, it provides the president power and legitimacy he would not have without that declaration; it both restrains the president and empowers him. Not only does it make his position as commander in chief unassailable by authorizing military action, it creates shared responsibility for war. A declaration of war informs the public of the burdens they will have to bear by leaving no doubt that Congress has decided on a new order — war — with how each member of Congress voted made known to the public.

Almost all Americans have heard Franklin Roosevelt’s speech to Congress on Dec. 8, 1941: “Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan … I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, Dec. 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”

It was a moment of majesty and sobriety, and with Congress’ affirmation, represented the unquestioned will of the republic. There was no going back, and there was no question that the burden would be borne. True, the Japanese had attacked the United States, making getting the declaration easier. But that’s what the founders intended: Going to war should be difficult; once at war, the commander in chief’s authority should be unquestionable.

Forgoing the Declaration


It is odd, therefore, that presidents who need that authorization badly should forgo pursuing it. Not doing so has led to seriously failed presidencies: Harry Truman in Korea, unable to seek another term; Lyndon Johnson in Vietnam, also unable to seek a new term; George W. Bush in Afghanistan and Iraq, completing his terms but enormously unpopular. There was more to this than undeclared wars, but that the legitimacy of each war was questioned and became a contentious political issue certainly is rooted in the failure to follow constitutional pathways.

In understanding how war and constitutional norms became separated, we must begin with the first major undeclared war in American history (the Civil War was not a foreign war), Korea. When North Korea invaded South Korea, Truman took recourse to the new U.N. Security Council. He wanted international sanction for the war and was able to get it because the Soviet representatives happened to be boycotting the Security Council over other issues at the time.

Truman’s view was that U.N. sanction for the war superseded the requirement for a declaration of war in two ways. First, it was not a war in the strict sense, he argued, but a “police action” under the U.N. Charter. Second, the U.N. Charter constituted a treaty, therefore implicitly binding the United States to go to war if the United Nations so ordered. Whether Congress’ authorization to join the United Nations both obligated the United States to wage war at U.N. behest, obviating the need for declarations of war because Congress had already authorized police actions, is an interesting question. Whatever the answer, Truman set a precedent that wars could be waged without congressional declarations of war and that other actions — from treaties to resolutions to budgetary authorizations — mooted declarations of war.

If this was the founding precedent, the deepest argument for the irrelevancy of the declaration of war is to be found in nuclear weapons. Starting in the 1950s, paralleling the Korean War, was the increasing risk of nuclear war. It was understood that if nuclear war occurred, either through an attack by the Soviets or a first strike by the United States, time and secrecy made a prior declaration of war by Congress impossible. In the expected scenario of a Soviet first strike, there would be only minutes for the president to authorize counterstrikes and no time for constitutional niceties. In that sense, it was argued fairly persuasively that the Constitution had become irrelevant to the military realities facing the republic.

Nuclear war was seen as the most realistic war-fighting scenario, with all other forms of war trivial in comparison. Just as nuclear weapons came to be called “strategic weapons” with other weapons of war occupying a lesser space, nuclear war became identical with war in general. If that was so, then constitutional procedures that could not be applied to nuclear war were simply no longer relevant.

Paradoxically, if nuclear warfare represented the highest level of warfare, there developed at the lowest level covert operations. Apart from the nuclear confrontation with the Soviets, there was an intense covert war, from back alleys in Europe to the Congo, Indochina to Latin America. Indeed, it was waged everywhere precisely because the threat of nuclear war was so terrible: Covert warfare became a prudent alternative. All of these operations had to be deniable. An attempt to assassinate a Soviet agent or raise a secret army to face a Soviet secret army could not be validated with a declaration of war. The Cold War was a series of interconnected but discrete operations, fought with secret forces whose very principle was deniability. How could declarations of war be expected in operations so small in size that had to be kept secret from Congress anyway?

There was then the need to support allies, particularly in sending advisers to train their armies. These advisers were not there to engage in combat but to advise those who did. In many cases, this became an artificial distinction: The advisers accompanied their students on missions, and some died. But this was not war in any conventional sense of the term. And therefore, the declaration of war didn’t apply.

By the time Vietnam came up, the transition from military assistance to advisers to advisers in combat to U.S. forces at war was so subtle that there was no moment to which you could point that said that we were now in a state of war where previously we weren’t. Rather than ask for a declaration of war, Johnson used an incident in the Tonkin Gulf to get a congressional resolution that he interpreted as being the equivalent of war. The problem here was that it was not clear that had he asked for a formal declaration of war he would have gotten one. Johnson didn’t take that chance.

What Johnson did was use Cold War precedents, from the Korean War, to nuclear warfare, to covert operations to the subtle distinctions of contemporary warfare in order to wage a substantial and extended war based on the Tonkin Gulf resolution — which Congress clearly didn’t see as a declaration of war — instead of asking for a formal declaration. And this represented the breakpoint. In Vietnam, the issue was not some legal or practical justification for not asking for a declaration. Rather, it was a political consideration.

Johnson did not know that he could get a declaration; the public might not be prepared to go to war. For this reason, rather than ask for a declaration, he used all the prior precedents to simply go to war without a declaration. In my view, that was the moment the declaration of war as a constitutional imperative collapsed. And in my view, so did the Johnson presidency. In hindsight, he needed a declaration badly, and if he could not get it, Vietnam would have been lost, and so may have been his presidency. Since Vietnam was lost anyway from lack of public consensus, his decision was a mistake. But it set the stage for everything that came after — war by resolution rather than by formal constitutional process.

After the war, Congress created the War Powers Act in recognition that wars might commence before congressional approval could be given. However, rather than returning to the constitutional method of the Declaration of War, which can be given after the commencement of war if necessary (consider World War II) Congress chose to bypass declarations of war in favor of resolutions allowing wars. Their reason was the same as the president’s: It was politically safer to authorize a war already under way than to invoke declarations of war.

All of this arose within the assertion that the president’s powers as commander in chief authorized him to engage in warfare without a congressional declaration of war, an idea that came in full force in the context of nuclear war and then was extended to the broader idea that all wars were at the discretion of the president. From my simple reading, the Constitution is fairly clear on the subject: Congress is given the power to declare war. At that moment, the president as commander in chief is free to prosecute the war as he thinks best. But constitutional law and the language of the Constitution seem to have diverged. It is a complex field of study, obviously.

An Increasing Tempo of Operations


All of this came just before the United States emerged as the world’s single global power — a global empire — that by definition would be waging war at an increased tempo, from Kuwait, to Haiti, to Kosovo, to Afghanistan, to Iraq, and so on in an ever-increasing number of operations. And now in Libya, we have reached the point that even resolutions are no longer needed.

It is said that there is no precedent for fighting al Qaeda, for example, because it is not a nation but a subnational group. Therefore, Bush could not reasonably have been expected to ask for a declaration of war. But there is precedent: Thomas Jefferson asked for and received a declaration of war against the Barbary pirates. This authorized Jefferson to wage war against a subnational group of pirates as if they were a nation.

Had Bush requested a declaration of war on al Qaeda on Sept. 12, 2001, I suspect it would have been granted overwhelmingly, and the public would have understood that the United States was now at war for as long as the president thought wise. The president would have been free to carry out operations as he saw fit. Roosevelt did not have to ask for special permission to invade Guadalcanal, send troops to India, or invade North Africa. In the course of fighting Japan, Germany and Italy, it was understood that he was free to wage war as he thought fit. In the same sense, a declaration of war on Sept. 12 would have freed him to fight al Qaeda wherever they were or to move to block them wherever the president saw fit.

Leaving aside the military wisdom of Afghanistan or Iraq, the legal and moral foundations would have been clear — so long as the president as commander in chief saw an action as needed to defeat al Qaeda, it could be taken. Similarly, as commander in chief, Roosevelt usurped constitutional rights for citizens in many ways, from censorship to internment camps for Japanese-Americans. Prisoners of war not adhering to the Geneva Conventions were shot by military tribunal — or without. In a state of war, different laws and expectations exist than during peace. Many of the arguments against Bush-era intrusions on privacy also could have been made against Roosevelt. But Roosevelt had a declaration of war and full authority as commander in chief during war. Bush did not. He worked in twilight between war and peace.

One of the dilemmas that could have been avoided was the massive confusion of whether the United States was engaged in hunting down a criminal conspiracy or waging war on a foreign enemy. If the former, then the goal is to punish the guilty. If the latter, then the goal is to destroy the enemy. Imagine that after Pearl Harbor, FDR had promised to hunt down every pilot who attacked Pearl Harbor and bring them to justice, rather than calling for a declaration of war against a hostile nation and all who bore arms on its behalf regardless of what they had done. The goal in war is to prevent the other side from acting, not to punish the actors.

The Importance of the Declaration


A declaration of war, I am arguing, is an essential aspect of war fighting particularly for the republic when engaged in frequent wars. It achieves a number of things. First, it holds both Congress and the president equally responsible for the decision, and does so unambiguously. Second, it affirms to the people that their lives have now changed and that they will be bearing burdens. Third, it gives the president the political and moral authority he needs to wage war on their behalf and forces everyone to share in the moral responsibility of war. And finally, by submitting it to a political process, many wars might be avoided. When we look at some of our wars after World War II it is not clear they had to be fought in the national interest, nor is it clear that the presidents would not have been better remembered if they had been restrained. A declaration of war both frees and restrains the president, as it was meant to do.

I began by talking about the American empire. I won’t make the argument on that here, but simply assert it. What is most important is that the republic not be overwhelmed in the course of pursuing imperial goals. The declaration of war is precisely the point at which imperial interests can overwhelm republican prerogatives.

There are enormous complexities here. Nuclear war has not been abolished. The United States has treaty obligations to the United Nations and other countries. Covert operations are essential, as is military assistance, both of which can lead to war. I am not making the argument that constant accommodation to reality does not have to be made. I am making the argument that the suspension of Section 8 of Article I as if it is possible to amend the Constitution with a wink and nod represents a mortal threat to the republic. If this can be done, what can’t be done?

My readers will know that I am far from squeamish about war. I have questions about Libya, for example, but I am open to the idea that it is a low-cost, politically appropriate measure. But I am not open to the possibility that quickly after the commencement of hostilities the president need not receive authority to wage war from Congress. And I am arguing that neither the Congress nor the president has the authority to substitute resolutions for declarations of war. Nor should either want to. Politically, this has too often led to disaster for presidents. Morally, committing the lives of citizens to waging war requires meticulous attention to the law and proprieties.

As our international power and interests surge, it would seem reasonable that our commitment to republican principles would surge. These commitments appear inconvenient. They are meant to be. War is a serious matter, and presidents and particularly Congresses should be inconvenienced on the road to war. Members of Congress should not be able to hide behind ambiguous resolutions only to turn on the president during difficult times, claiming that they did not mean what they voted for. A vote on a declaration of war ends that. It also prevents a president from acting as king by default. Above all, it prevents the public from pretending to be victims when their leaders take them to war. The possibility of war will concentrate the mind of a distracted public like nothing else. It turns voting into a life-or-death matter, a tonic for our adolescent body politic.

Read more: What Happened to the American Declaration of War? | STRATFOR

What Happened to the American Declaration of War? is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

Bigger government is a bad thing

As if the problems of bigger government and out-of-control spending by elected officials at the federal and state levels aren't bad enough, we've got both those things going on right here in Johnson County.

The county's budget has increased 67% over the last four years and that's simply unacceptable.

Johnson County government has grown without merit and at the hands of liberal leadership. Because of the excessive spending decisions of Sally Stutsman and Janelle Rettig, your taxes are higher, your wallet is thinner. The government restrictions are tighter, your freedoms are fewer. Our lives and the local economy suffers as a result.

We The People need to demand the reduction of county government.  We need to fight against county purchases of more land. We need to make a push to sell the many parcels of land the county has taken out of the free market, that are undeveloped and off the tax rolls. We should fight to repeal the Conservation Bond, a county slush fund that took $20 million away from hard working taxpayers. 

It's time to stand up and say no to new government programs and county entity proposals. Stand up and say no to more regulation and restrictions.

~ Hillary Summit, rural Johnson County

Liberals are SOOOOOOOO disengenuous

By Mike Thayer

I'm watching all the political talking head shows giving their post-Obama-speech analysis.  At the moment I'm viewing The Ed Show on MSNBC which has their usual liberal Democrat Obama lovers on spewing the party rah-rah lines.

Ed gave Obama's speech a '10', quipping how great the humanitarian theme is.....

What a bunch of hooey.

President Bush gave some humanitarian reasons for invading Iraq and the Democrats said that wasn't good enough.


Is King Obama uncomfortable in the Oval Office?

By Mike Thayer

So I just got done watching King Obama give his address to the nation to explain why the United States has interfered with Libyan affairs.  

Such speeches, especially ones dealing with a military action, are usually given from the Oval Office.  Obama chose to deliver his speech at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

King_obama What's wrong with the Oval Office?  No, there's no written rule that speeches must be made there, but it makes sense to speak to the nation from there and why so many Presidents have done so on important issues of the day and at a far less burden to taxpayers.  It's supposed to be about conveying information to the people, not a photo op.  Think about the extra taxpayer dollars and government resources unnecessarily used on arrangments, security, transportation, etc., for a vague 20 minute speech.

Why does the King seem to be so uncomfortable in the Oval Office?  Think about it, look at how much time the guy spends away from it.  He has more hours on the golf course than he does at his desk.  During the BP oil spill, Obama took three vacations, to include a lot of golf and taking the family to the Acadia National Forest in Maine.  Japan suffers from earthquakes, a Tsunami, radioactivity, and Obama is on ESPN talking about his NCAA basketball picks.  Libya is busy blowing itself up, Obama is in Rio.

So nine days after tossing Tomahawk missiles at Libya, the King finally gets around to giving a speech about the matter.  How did he do?

Did he outline how there was an imminent security threat from Libya against the United States?  


Did he spell out how the affairs of Libya are of vital national security interest to the United States?


Did he explain how our military action in Libya is supported by Constitutional authority?


Did he clearly define what the mission is?


"The United States will not be able to dictate the pace and scope of this change. Only the people of the region can do that," said the Emperer with no clothes.

Then why did you launch missiles at them my liege?

U.S. Senator Rand Paul to Keynote Iowa GOP’s Night of the Rising Stars

Event will also highlight Iowa’s newly elected leaders

Rand_paul DES MOINES, IA. -- Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn today announced that freshman United States Senator Rand Paul will headline the Iowa GOP’s spring event, Night of the Rising Stars, scheduled to be held on April 2 at Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines. The event will also highlight many of Iowa’s newly elected leaders from the sweeping Republican victories of last November.

Strawn held the inaugural Night of the Rising Stars in June 2009 as a showcase for many of the talented newcomers the Iowa GOP was witnessing at all levels of politics and government.

“Last November, Iowa voters overwhelmingly supported our pledge to return limited government to Des Moines by restoring fiscal sanity to the State Capitol after years of runaway spending. As a result, we have elected a group of principled conservative leaders from river to river that will help move our state forward for decades to come,” Strawn said. “In addition to highlighting these leaders, the event will underscore how far Iowa Republicans have come since 2008 and the dramatically different electoral terrain President Obama will find here in 2012.”

In addition to highlighting emerging Iowa GOP leaders, Strawn said the keynote speaker will be someone who is new to the national stage, but is already making his presence felt in Washington, D.C.

"Senator Paul represents the new energy of Republicans in Washington. His dedication to the cause of limited government not only resonated with the voters of Kentucky but catapulted him on to the national stage,” Strawn continued. “Iowa Republicans will be interested to hear his solutions to seriously address the national debt and stop the growth of government.”

Senator Paul is the author of a recently published book, The Tea Party goes to Washington. For more information on the event, please call 515-282-8105.

Dinosaur Senator Tom Harkin still thinks throwing money at a problem fixes it

Tom_dinosaur_harkin Editor's Overview:  It's about the curriculum stupid! Despite all kinds of data, documents and reports clearly showing it doesn't work, Senator Tom "I don't even live in Iowa anymore" Harkin still thinks that throwing more money at our schools will fix the poor education some of our schools deliver.  Instead of looking at the dismal record of the U.S. Department of Education and questioning their productivity and then asking, "Is this money well spent?"  Harkin just pats himself on the back with a big - look what I did, I brought home some more bacon!  OK, maybe bringing home some tree leaves then since we're doing the Harkin head on a plant eating dinosaur body bit....  The point is he doesn't really care about results, he has the dinosaur elected official mentality  in that he only cares about the game he gets to play, the knight giving table scraps to the serfs.  Why are we continuing to send hard-earned money to Washington and the Department of Education, when the record shows continued decline in performance?  The following is his press release gleefully pointing to the *award* of $2.9 million that should have just stayed in the state to begin with.  Check out the part where the school districts will have to compete for this money.  Check out the strings attached and the control the federal level is applying to local school districts.....  Does that make sense to you?

U.S. Sen. Harkin: $2.9 million coming to Iowa to turn around lowest achieving schools

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Kate Cyrul / Bergen Kenny March 25, 2011 202-224-3254

Washington, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that the U.S. Department of Education’s had awarded Iowa $2.9 million through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program to turn around its persistently lowest achieving schools. Harkin is the Chairman of the Senate panel that funds education initiatives and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

“Investing in our children’s future means directing resources where they are needed most. When schools consistently have low graduation rates, it is important we focus our attention there,” Harkin said. “Today’s funding is a step in the right direction. It will help districts take the necessary steps to improve their weakest schools. And, it could not have come at a better time for districts that are already struggling with tough budgeting decisions.”

The $2.9 million made available to Iowa is being distributed by formula to the state and will then be competed out by the state to school districts. Iowa’s application, which includes its list of persistently lowest-achieving schools, as defined by the state, can be found here.

School districts will apply to the state for the funds this spring. When school districts apply, they must indicate that they will implement reforms to the lowest achieving schools.

Once schools receive SIG funds, they will be able to begin to spend them immediately to turn around schools this fall. Iowa may apply to the Education Department for a waiver to allow them to spend funds over a three-year period.

10 Big Issues Creating the Legislative Snowball Effect

By State Senator Paul McKinley

Paul_mckinley Spring is officially here – but someone forgot to tell the Iowa Legislature. 

The slow pace of activity up to this point in the session on many significant bills is creating a snowball effect of issues – many that will need to be dealt with before the gavel falls for the final time.

The dynamics of state government are much different than they have been for the past four years. A more fiscally responsible, job-creation focused governor is now in office. Republicans have a commanding 60 – 40 advantage in the House and the Iowa Senate is narrowly split – a much different state of affairs than in recent years.

Those new dynamics mean there is plenty of gridlock with much yet to be determined before the session is all said and done.

To date, nearly all of the bills that have passed both chambers have been relatively non-controversial with few exceptions.  That means Iowans should pay close attention to what happens in the coming weeks.

All of this means the snowball continues to get bigger by the day.

Here is a list of 10 big issues that may need to be addressed, among others, before the session ends:

Job Creation

  • Republicans campaigned last year on bringing about a climate where private sector job creation can flourish.  In order to create jobs, we must have a competitive tax and regulatory climate, good education system and leadership willing to sell and market our state. As such, Governor Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Reynolds have outlined a bold proposal to re-invent Iowa’s embattled Iowa Department of Economic Development. The “Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress” would be a public-private partnership and would allow the state to be more aggressive in pursuing entrepreneurs, job creators and businesses of all sizes.  Iowa needs to become more competitive and House and Senate Republicans are eager to work with the governor and his administration to accomplish that.

The Budget

  • The Legislature must pass a budget. We believe Iowans sent a strong message last November that it is time to reduce spending and do a better job prioritizing our budget. Republicans, to date, have offered over $500 million in savings over three years while Democrats offered approximately $8 million over three years. Republicans have offered their plan and Democrats have offered some ideas. To date, most of the budget bills passed by Senate Democrats have been above what the more fiscally responsible House Republicans and Governor Branstad have proposed. Therefore, Senate Republicans have voted no because we know Iowans want less spending.  Before the session ends, both chambers, along with Governor Branstad, will have to work out a compromise.

Tax Relief

  • Governor Branstad, House Republicans and Senate Republicans all campaigned aggressively last year on bringing about real and much needed tax relief – whether that is property taxes, corporate taxes or income taxes. Fundamentally, Republicans believe Iowans should be able to keep more of their money while Democrats would prefer the government have that money in order to allow for more spending.  The governor’s tax proposals are just beginning to move through the Legislature and more details will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.  In addition, a bill to couple Iowa’s tax code with the federal tax code and create a Taxpayer Relief Fund is being held up by Democratic legislators who would rather spend than save or give the state’s ending balance back to its rightful owners – the taxpayers of Iowa.

Regulatory & Rule Reform

  • Senate Republicans have spent the past several weeks traveling throughout the state hearing from literally hundreds of Iowans about burdensome rules and regulations that are affecting job creation. Important bills dealing with rule and regulatory reform still need to be addressed this session in order to continue to remove barriers to private sector job creation.

Collective Bargaining Reform

  • The Iowa House, with broad support, passed a bill a few weeks ago to inject some common sense reforms into the collective bargaining and arbitration processes in Iowa. For the long term fiscal sustainability of the state, we believe there needs to be more equity and fairness in the process and the taxpayers deserve a bigger say at the table instead of deep pocketed union bosses. As it stands today, over 80 percent of state employees pay nothing for health insurance and most get lucrative benefit packages and healthy annual salary increases that are out-of-line with the private sector.

Education Funding & Pre-School

  • Republicans, with the support of Governor Branstad, want to set allowable growth at zero percent while Senate Democrats want to set it at two percent.  If allowable growth is kept at zero, schools would still get $286 million in additional dollars but Democrats want to keep spending more money and add more to our already heavy property tax burdens. Iowa already has some of the highest property taxes in the nation and it is hurting job creation.
  • Republicans believe we need to make serious upgrades to our pre-school system because the current set-up is unsustainable for the long-term.  Republicans believe funding for pre-school should be based on economic need and there should be more school choice. Democrats believe the expensive status quo should be maintained so that even children of millionaires get free pre-school. They are also not in favor of giving parents a choice about where they can send their children.

Nuclear Power

  • It is evident that Iowa needs more base load energy (base load is either clean coal or nuclear) if our state is to continue to grow and add jobs in the years to come. A proposal before the Legislature to further explore the prospect of adding a second nuclear power plant in the state could yet be voted on in the coming weeks. It is important to note that the tragic catastrophe in Japan and the plants there are generations behind in terms of safety and capability as compared to the plans being considered in Iowa. Iowans need safe, reliable, inexpensive energy and nuclear energy could be part of the solution.


  • At 8:15 am on Thursday, March 31, the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency will release a map that could be the new congressional and legislative districts for the next decade. Legislators do not have to approve the first map but a plan must be accepted by September 1 and signed by Governor Branstad by September 15 or the map will be drawn by the Iowa Supreme Court.

Gaming Issues

  • A somewhat controversial bill dealing with a whole host of gaming issues remains lodged in committee but could become a live round before the 2011 session comes to a close. Some of the notable issues include horse racing, dog racing, changes to county-wide referendums, possible changes to the wagering tax, online gaming and even a smoking ban in Iowa’s casinos. 

Life Issues & Same-Sex Marriage

  • A bill to ban partial-birth abortion – those in the third trimester - is making its way through the Iowa House. Senate Republicans believe this bill is necessary to keep renowned abortionists like LeRoy Carhart from coming into Council Bluffs from Omaha and opening up shop.
  • The Iowa House, with overwhelming bi-partisan support, passed an Amendment to the Iowa Constitution that will allow Iowans a vote on the basic definition of marriage.  Every Senate Democrat and most specifically, Senator Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs, continues to obstruct a vote of the people.  Republicans believe the voters of Iowa should have the final say on this basic issue.

These and many other issues remain on the table for discussion yet this session.

The question for the citizens and taxpayers of Iowa is: will this snowball that has been building all session end up as part of a beautiful smiling snowman or break loose into a good old fashioned snowball fight? 

Only time will tell.

Senate Republicans hope the end result will be a state with a smaller and more efficient government that is more competitive for private sector job creation and provides more freedom and opportunity for the citizens of today and tomorrow. 

As always, I welcome hearing from you and can be reached by phone at 515-281-3560 or by e-mail at

Paul McKinley
Senate Republican Leader