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Legislative session must end soon

Published: Monday, April 28, 2014 11:17 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, April 28, 2014 3:34 p.m. CDT

It’s quite interesting that my final legislative session would be one of the most contentious of any in 32 years.  Yet back in January, I advised readers I felt this would be a good, productive and fairly non-partisan three months. 

Things started going south when the “Hush Money” scandal surfaced.  The appropriate House and Senate committee joined in reviewing thousands of documents and emails, and interviewing involved individuals in public hearings.  The Republicans screamed foul with their assessment that the scandals were not the “end of the world,” and that the Democrats were “piling on” for political advantage.  The R’s claimed that Senator Jack Hatch was behind the untimely embarrassment, as he is the Democratic candidate for governor.  I can attest that Senator Hatch had nothing to do with the issue in any way.  I see and talk with him daily in the Senate, and we have never discussed any aspect of the case under review.  In fact, Senator Hatch advised our caucus he would stay well away from all of this, because he didn’t want to be accused of having anything to do with information that surfaces virtually every day.  But, there will always be those who don’t care about the facts, and are convinced that politics are pushing the agenda.

My concern is that I have been so naïve over the years, and tell everyone how fortunate they are to have such a squeaky clean state government.  It always has been, as I have viewed it.  I was speechless when I learned about what several state department heads had done with the public’s money.  Then, at the end of last week, I was particularly embarrassed to learn that a highly paid employee of the Secretary of  State’s office had his job eliminated through consolidation, but was retained on the payroll for a reported seven months, and allowed to do his “work” from his home.  Apparently, those in high positions, with big salaries, think they are special, and can do what they want.  No one is indispensable, and is not as important as they think. Above all, when they take advantage of the system and the taxpayers of Iowa, the strong arm of the law best come down hard.  If not, then I too will join those that claim the politicians are the “protected class.”

Ramifications of the above have resulted in the legislative session being extended, because an inordinate amount of time is spent in hearings and in due-diligence of researching the claims of those affected.  This causes various committee meetings to be moved back a day or two, and significant time spent in legislators arguing the details of the sordid events.  And, each day brings more revelations about department heads taking advantage of their positions.  Rest assured, I am aware of what the future holds with additional claims, not from legislators, but rather from previous state employees that are convinced they have been grossly mistreated by the state.

I don’t like what is happening, not only because of the unfairness by which many have been treated, but also due to the fact that these events cause the general public to lose what little trust and faith they had in government.  Rotten apples are appearing all over the place, and human nature is such that they soon believe all the apples to be rotten and need to be tossed out.

• • •

Following the session, call me at (515) 975-8608; write me at box 1271, Newton, 50208; or e-mail dennis.black@legis.iowa.gov  I shall continue to serve your needs through the year.

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