Image Source: Blog For Iowa
Iowa's Legislature convenes today, ushering in several months of drama, trauma, high comedy and most likely minimal progress. Republicans saw their lead in the House narrowed to 53-46 during the recent elections; Democrats retain a narrow 26-24 lead in the Senate. This sort of situation generaly results in near gridlock and there's really no reason to expect much different this year. We'll see.
It's a whole new ballgame for Lucas Countyans. We'd gotten used to being represented by Chariton Sen. Paul McKinley and Russell Rep. Richard Arnold, both of whom retired after the last session, both Republicans --- conservative, of course, but without that glazed, crazed whackiness in their eyes that is a feature of so many GOP lawmakers these days.
Because of redistricting, Lucas County now falls in Senate District 14, made up of Lucas, Wayne, Clarke and Decatur counties, most of Marion County and a piece of Jasper. Our new senator seems to be of the glazed and crazed variety --- Amy Sinclair of Allerton. Or at least I'm assuming she is. That video of Sinclair rousing rabble among gun nuts still is featured prominently on her Web site. She might surprise us, but I'm calling her pistol-packing Amy until we see what develops.
Redistricting split Lucas County down the middle, more or less. Most of the west half --- and Chariton --- are now represented by Joel Fry of Osceola in House 27; the west half, House 28, by Greg Heartsill of Melcher-Dallas. Heartsill seems to be of the glazed and crazed school; Fry, perhaps a little saner.
The leadership of both parties seems to agree that in large part because of the Democrat edge in the Senate, such issues as constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage and proposals to limit women's rights to choose will be non-starters and promise righteously that jobs, education and tax reform will be on the front burners. Wanna bet?
There most likely will be a GOP-proposed constitutional amendment to allow as many Iowans to shoot as many other Iowans as they please just in case the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution fails us --- but it's not likely to go far.
So who is going to distill all this drama into thoughtful and concise reports for us? Well probably the Des Moines-based television stations, plus Iowa's public broadcasting outlets. The Register still offers the best political coverage, but that vanishes behind a pay wall after a few stories. A reporter named Rod Boshart seems to cover politics for most of the other larger papers in the state, including the Gazette (Cedar Rapids) and the Lees --- Sioux City, Mason City, Waterloo and the Quad Cities. The Associated Press also will have credible offerings. Other than The Register's, the reporting is free.
Speaking of the newspaper Iowa once depended upon, Cityview has an interesting report on The Register's continuing decline, reflected in a seven percent drop in curculation during the past year. You can read it here. Sad.
And if you're interested in the real movers and shakers at the Statehouse, here's a link tracked down on the Legislature's Web site by Michael Libbie to the official list of registered lobbyists.