Thursday, February 19, 2009

Jackson County Supervisors Meeting Report

During last week's county supervisors meeting, once again, a subject of concern was the mental health services budget. After roads, it's the second largest budget item. Supervisor Jack Willey explained that Federal and State governmental actions have been catastrophic for the county's mental health budget. He further noted that up to $700,000 in funding may be lost to the county because of a small balance left in the account at the end of the fiscal year.

What to do about the shortfall? The property tax levy for mental health is maxed out, so funding through the county cannot be increased, and funds cannot be transferred from another account.

Will services need to be cut? Or will Jackson County resort to waiting lists, just as other counties have already done?

Supervisor Willey noted that this situation is not understood by the general public, but it may soon affect many of us. Let's trust our supervisors to give us more information about this important subject. Perhaps they will schedule a public forum. . .a question & answer session with knowledgeable people about the subject.

Jean, the Political Junkie

Monday, February 16, 2009

New From Iowa House GOP Leader Kraig Paulsen

Big Labor Strikes

The first big labor bill is on the move, and it’s moving quickly. HSB 149 (click to view) was introduced in the Labor committee this week, and is expected to be moved out of committee on Monday. This bill mandates a “prevailing wage” standard for most public works projects. It’s not the first time this bill has been tossed around, but this time, it has traction in the majority caucus.

The cost to Iowa taxpayers will be quite significant. It’s estimated that at a minimum, Iowa Workforce Development will need an additional $889,000 and 11 new employees and the Board of Regents will need an additional $556,000 and 6 new employees in order to comply with the bill. Additionally, construction costs estimates by the Iowa State Association of Counties and the Iowa Association of School Boards indicate an approximate 10 to 12 percent increase in local project costs due to prevailing wage.

More detail can be found at the following links:

The bottom line is this: HSB 149 places an undue burden on state and local governments and will undoubtedly cause an increase in property taxes or a scaling back of public works projects.

The last state to pass prevailing wage legislation was Minnesota, in 1973. Nine states have since repealed their laws, including Ohio. When Ohio repealed the prevailing wage for school construction, the projects saw a 10 percent reduction in project costs.

This proposal fails multiple tests, but two that immediately come to mind are: 1—This is a tax increase and it will hit property tax payers especially hard. We already have some of the highest property taxes in the nation-House Republicans will not support raising them even more. 2—At a time when

Iowa has such significant infrastructure needs, this is absolutely a step in the wrong direction. We don’t need to add to the multi-billion dollar rebuilding cost effort by addition on an additional 10% increase in project costs-House Republicans will not support these increases.

If you have thoughts on this bill (or any other) now is the time to share them with your legislators. Our phone numbers and addresses can be found here.

You elect us to represent and serve you, please share your thoughts.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

200th Birthday of Abraham Lincoln

Nothing I write can possibly do justice to President Abraham Lincoln. Better you should read Lincoln's own words. . .read the Gettysburg Address, the Emancipation Proclamation, or one of his Inaugural Addresses. Or, choose one of the more than 14,000 biographies written about President Lincoln. Celebrate this very special day with a look back at history.

Celebrate our Jackson County connection: Captain William Warren of Bellevue was a delegate to the 1860 Republican National Convention and had the honor of voting for Abraham Lincoln, who won the nomination on the third ballot.

Jean, the Political Junkie

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sen.Grassley speaks out against Stimulus bill


TO: Reporters and Editors

RE: Economic Stimulus Legislation

DA: Monday, February 9, 2009

Senator Chuck Grassley made the statement immediately below regarding his vote today against economic stimulus legislation put before the Senate with limited debate, the Collins-Nelson amendment #570 (substitute) to H.R. 1, the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Thousands of Iowans have called me to voice their opposition to this legislation. They don’t have confidence that the bill will get the economy back on track. Their cynicism is fueled by the package’s massive government spending and long-term entitlement commitments that will leave the next generation with trillion dollar deficits. The bill is a big missed opportunity, especially with the strength of a new president who campaigned to change the ways of Washington, and the urgent need to help create and sustain jobs. The way this bill was managed with a heavy partisan hand by congressional leaders kept it from being an effective economic stimulus package. Bipartisanship isn’t picking off bare minimum support from a few Republicans at the 11th hour. It’s working together from the beginning to develop good ideas from both sides and weed out bad ones. When partisanship takes over the process, it shuts out good amendments like mine to extend the wind energy production tax credit, which would have provided certainty for an industry creating hundreds of jobs in Iowa. It also hurts states like Iowa which are likely to see the major blows of the recession after other states, just when the money is likely to be gone. For example, the bill gives disproportionately more help to big states at the expense of states like Iowa with Medicaid dollars, and the majority leader in the Senate wouldn’t even allow my amendment to be discussed which would have directed social services to Iowa and other states still recovering and rebuilding from natural disasters in 2008. So, instead of a plan that is charged with initiatives to encourage investment, risk taking, entrepreneurship and the kind of activity that gets people to work today and for the long haul, America is getting a bill that’s big on government spending and small on much else, including help for Iowa. In the midst of the worst economy since the Great Depression, America’s workforce and those fighting for a better day deserve better.”

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sen. Grassley To Host Town Hall Meeting in Jackson County

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley has recently announced plans to hold a town hall meeting with his constituents in Jackson County. The meeting will be held Friday, February 20th at the Hurstville Interpretive Center in Maquoketa (18670-63rd St. Hwy. 61) from 10:15-11:15am.

For more information about the event, contact us at

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Jackson County Supervisors Meeting Report

Supervisor Jack Willey ably explained that even though Jackson County is ranked 97th out of 99 counties for average income, that's not the total picture. No Jackson County residents who work in Dubuque, Scott, Clinton or other counties are included in that average. The average is figured only on Jackson County business wages. It's all in the way those average wages are calculated that make our county's wages sound so dreary.

I watched last week's Jackson County Supervisors meeting on cable today, and discussion focused on mental health services. With a 6-1/2% reduction in state spending, unmandated mental health services may have to be trimmed or eliminated.

Good news is that Jackson County should benefit from both the Federal and State stimulus packages. With an emphasis on "shovel ready" projects, that may help our budget for county roads.

Follow the supervisor meetings if you're able--you'll find the time most rewarding!

Jean, the Political Junkie

Sounds Good, But. . .

During last weekend's legislative forum in Maquoketa, Rep. Tom Schueller said he is in favor of prevailing wage legislation. Everyone would like to have wages that can support a family, but what dollar amount is that? And who would decide that dollar amount?

During the forum it was pointed out that Iowa is one of only eight states that do not have prevailing wage legislation. One of the attendees also noted that farmers and small businesses may not be able to pay a prevailing wage. Will there be exemptions?

Is this issue like last year's Fair Share Bill? Democrat legislators enthusiastically passed it, but the bill was vetoed by Governor Culver. The Fair Share Bill would have endangered Iowa's Right to Work status, but you would have not known that if you listened only to the bill's supporters.

Since Jackson County's average wage scale is the second lowest in the state, economic development is a hot topic. Will prevailing wage legislation increase our wage scale? There should be lots more discussion before we decide.

Jean, the Political Junkie