And now, introducing your 2009 Iowa Legislature. (Pause while applause dies down)
The Gazette, Lee Newspapers and The Des Moines Register all front stories breaking down demographics for the 83rd Iowa General Assembly, which will begin its 2009 session this morning. This year’s version is more diverse, with a record number of blacks and 34 women. But there are still plenty of old white guys running the two-ring circus.
The oldest lawmaker is Rep. Delores Mertz, D-Ottosen at 80 while the youngest is 25-year-old Rep. Matt Windscitl, R-Missouri Valley. The Legislature has 26 farmers, 13 lawyers, 8 teachers, 20 retirees. And 56 of 150 members have earned advanced degrees. Not too shabby. But can they balance a budget?
On Tuesday, young and old lawmakers alike will hear Gov. Chet Culver deliver his annual Condition of the State speech. Culver tells Radio Iowa that he will announce a “big and bold” stimulus package. Details TBA.
Also under the heading of budgetry boldness is news in the Register that the Bondurant-Farrar school district wants to go to a four-day week to help erase a budget shortfall. Closing an extra day saves utility costs and keeps diesel-guzzling buses parked. But the district will have to ask permission from the Iowa Department of Education, because of Iowa’s current 180-day school year requirement.
If they get the green light, B-F would be the -first Iowa district to adopt a four-day week. But I doubt they will be the last to explore the option.
Matt Strawn of Ankeny was elected Saturday to chair the Republican Party of Iowa. The blogscape is buzzing. On the right is Krusty Konservative. I expect he’ll have a longer take on the weekend’s developments sometime after sunrise. On the left is Bleeding Heartland. Let’s have a clean fight.
And if you have a spare moment today, check out Quad-City Times columnist/institution Bill Wundram’s Sunday piece on his brushes with presidents over the years. Good stuff.