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November News (2012)

Issue 10, November 12, 2012

Articles in This Issue:

Iowans Set Records on Election Day

The Des Moines Register reported this week that Iowa may have been the only state in the nation to have better voter turnout this year than in 2008 (when President Obama was first elected President).   More than 1.5 million Iowans voted on Tuesday, the highest rate of voting in 20 years. 

The high rate of voter turnout could have something to do with Iowa’s early voting laws.  Iowa allows voters to vote early, up to 40 days before the election. 

Not all states have such a long period of early voting.  So that may be why nearly half of those voting this year did so before Election Day (either by voting in person at the county auditor’s office, at a satellite voting station, or at home with a mail-in ballot).
  A file folder with magnifying glass, with text Fact File

FACT:   72% of those registered to vote in Iowa voted in Tuesday’s Presidential Election.  That
             means seven out of every ten registered voters voted. 

FACT:   82% of Polk County’s registered voters voted this year (Polk County Auditor's Office). 

FACT:   Nationally only 57% of those registered voted, according to the American University's
             Center for the Study of the American Electorate.

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Your Vote is Just the Beginning

It may seem like the campaign season would never end, and your vote was the end of that very long process.  While it is certainly the end of all the political commercials, your vote wasn’t the end.  It’s really just the beginning.  One Iowan put it best in a recent letter to the editor:

No matter who is elected, it is our responsibility to make sure our representatives at the local, state, and federal level know what issues or legislation are important to us.

If you do not let your elected officials know what matters to you, how then can they do their job, their job of representing you?  So your vote is the beginning. 

Your job now is to make sure your elected officials know what issues matter to you, and how proposals they are considering will affect you, your business, your family and your community.  If you don’t, then can you really complain about “politics as usual?” Each month we’ll give you a few ideas to get you started. 


NOVEMBER ADVOCACY IDEA:  Introduce yourself to your newly elected officials.

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FEDERAL ELECTION RESULTS: Voters Send Four of Iowa's Five Congressmen Back to DC

Iowa’s two US Senators didn’t face the voters this year, but all of Iowa’s US Representatives did, and one won’t be returning to Washington DC next year.  Iowans voted to re-elect Representatives Bruce Braley, Steve King, Tom Latham, and Dave Loebsack. Representative Leonard Boswell lost his election.

Because our population didn’t grow fast enough over the last ten years, Iowa lost a congressional seat, going from five US Representatives to four. That forced two of Iowa’s US Representatives to face off in this election – Rep. Tom Latham and Rep. Leonard Boswell.  Latham beat Boswell with 55% of the vote.  Click here to find out who represents you in Congress.

Iowans like balance - just take a look at how we voted:

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STATE ELECTION RESULTS: Split Control of Iowa Legislature Continues

Before the election, Democrats controlled the Iowa Senate with 26 seats. After the election, Democrats control the Iowa Senate with 26 seats. So the Senate Democrats will stay the majority party – the party in control of the Iowa Senate.

Before the election, Republicans controlled the Iowa House of Representatives with 60 seats. Republicans kept control of the Iowa House, but now they have only a 53-seat majority. A smaller majority means Republicans will probably need to compromise more to get things done. However, that number may change.

One Polk County race is likely to be recounted – Rep. Chris Hagenow beat Susan Judkins by 29 votes. There were a couple other close votes this year (Rep. John Wittneben lost by 57 votes and former Rep. John Beard missed becoming a Senator by 37 votes). They too may be recounted.

Complete election results can be found here.

IOWA SENATE.  Two State Senators were not re-elected – Sen. Shawn Hamerlinck (Scott County) and Sen. Merlin Bartz (Worth County).  Sen. Bartz was a member of the MH/DS Commission.  Two State Representatives decided to run for the Iowa Senate (so they gave up their House seats) – but only one (Rep. Janet Petersen) was elected.  Rep. Nate Willems lost.  Former State Representative John Beard also ran for Iowa Senate but was defeated. 

These are the Senators that will represent you in 2013:
SD stands for “Senate District” - Senators in italic didn’t have to run for re-election this year.

SD-1        Sen. Dave Johnson
SD-2        Sen. Randy Feenstra
SD-3        Sen. Bill Anderson

SD-4        Dennis Guth
SD-5        Sen. Daryl Beall

SD-6        Mark Segebart
SD-7        Sen. Rick Bertrand
SD-8        Sen. Mike Gronstal
SD-9        Sen. Nancy Boettger

SD-10     Jake Chapman
SD-11     Sen. Hubert Houser

SD-12     Sen. Joni Ernst
SD-13     Sen. Kent Sorenson

SD-14     Amy Sinclair
SD-15     Sen. Dennis Black

SD-16     Sen. Dick Dearden
SD-17     Sen. Jack Hatch

SD-18     Janet Petersen (currently a Representative)
SD-19     Sen. Jack Whitver

SD-20     Sen. Brad Zaun
SD-21     Sen. Matt McCoy

SD-22     OPEN (Charles Schneider vs. Desmund Adams)
SD-23     Sen. Herman Quirmbach

SD-24     Sen. Jerry Behn
SD-25     Sen. Bill Dix

SD-26     Sen. Mary Jo Wilhelm
SD-27     Sen. Amanda Ragan

SD-28     Michael Breitbach
SD-29     Sen. Todd Bowman

SD-30     Sen. Jeff Danielson
SD-31     Sen. Bill Dotzler

SD-32     Sen. Brian Schoenjahn
SD-33     Sen. Rob Hogg

SD-34     Sen. Liz Mathis
SD-35     Sen. Wally Horn

SD-36     Sen. Steve Sodders
SD-37     Sen. Bob Dvorsky

SD-38     Sen. Tim Kapucian
     Sen. Sandy Greiner
SD-40     Ken Rozenboom
SD-41     Sen. Mark Chelgren

SD-42     Rich Taylor
SD-43     Sen. Joe Bolkcom

SD-44     Sen. Tom Courtney
SD-45     Sen. Joe Seng

SD-46     Chris Brase
SD-47     Sen. Roby Smith

SD-48     Dan Zumbach
SD-49     Rita Hart
SD-50     Sen. Pam Jochum

IOWA HOUSE.  Six State Representatives lost their races and won’t be returning to the Capitol this year - Rep. John Wittneben (Emmett County), Rep. Jeremy Taylor (Woodbury County), Rep. Bob Hager (Allamakee County), Rep. Ross Paustian (Scott County), Rep. Nick Wagner (Linn County), and Rep. Renee Schulte (Linn County). Rep. Schulte was the primary author and lead sponsor of the Mental Health and Disability Services Redesign, and an Assistant Minority Leader.  Rep. Wagner was vice-chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee last year (the committee that decides how much money will be spent and where it is spent) – and many thought he’d chair it in 2013.

Former State Representatives Donovan Olson and Tom Schueller failed to make comebacks this year.  Two former Democratic State Senators ran for State Representative this year – one was elected (Frank Wood) and one lost (Bill Heckroth).  Current State Senator Bob Bacon decided to run for State Representative this year, and was elected.  Bobby Kaufman will take over the seat his father (Rep. Jeff Kaufman) retired from this year.  Two kids of former legislators also ran this year – one won (Dan Lundby, son of former Sen. Mary Lundby) and one lost (Joe Judge, son of former Sen. John Judge and former Lt. Gov. and Sen. Patti Judge).

Two Dubuque County legislators got 100% of the vote (no one voted against them) – Rep. Chuck Isenhart and Nancy Dunkel.  And an independent candidate came close to beating Rep. Dennis Cohoon, who won with 47% of the vote.

These are the Representatives that will represent you in 2013:
HD stands for “House District”

HD-1       Rep. Jeff Smith
HD-2       Megan Hess
HD-3       Rep. Dan Huseman
HD-4       Rep. Dwayne Alons
HD-5       Rep. Chuck Soderberg
HD-6       Rep. Ron Jorgensen
HD-7       Tedd Gassman
HD-8       Rep. Henry Rayhons
HD-9       Rep. Helen Miller
HD-10    Rep. Tom Shaw
HD-11    Rep. Gary Worthan
HD-12    Rep. Dan Muhlbauer
HD-13    Rep. Chris Hall
HD-14    David Dawson
HD-15    Rep. Mark Brandenburg
HD-16    Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa
HD-17    Rep. Matt Windschitl
HD-18    Rep. Jason Schultz
HD-19    Rep. Ralph Watts
HD-20    Rep. Clel Baudler
HD-21    Rep. Jack Drake
HD-22    Rep. Greg Forristall
HD-23    Mark Costello
HD-24    Rep. Cecil Dolecheck
HD-25    Rep. Julian Garrett
HD-26    Scott Orth
HD-27    Rep. Joel Fry
HD-28    Greg Heartsill
HD-29    Rep. Dan Kelley
HD-30    Joe Riding
HD-31    Rep. Rick Olson
HD-32    Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines
HD-33    Rep. Kevin McCarthy
HD-34    Rep. Bruce Hunter
HD-35    Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad
HD-36    Marti Anderson
HD-37    John Landon
HD-38    Rep. Kevin Koester
HD-39    Jake Highfill
HD-40    John Forbes
HD-41    Rep. Jo Oldson
HD-42    Rep. Peter Cownie
HD-43    Rep. Chris Hagenow
HD-44    Rob Taylor
HD-45    Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell
HD-46    Rep. Lisa Heddens
HD-47    Rep. Chip Baltimore
HD-48    Bob Bacon (currently Senator)
HD-49    Rep. Dave Deyoe
HD-50    Rep. Pat Grassley
HD-51    Rep. Josh Byrnes
HD-52    Rep. Brian Quirk
HD-53    Rep. Sharon Steckman
HD-54    Rep. Linda Upmeyer
HD-55    Rep. Roger Thomas
HD-56    Patti Ruff
HD-57    Nancy Dunkel
HD-58    Rep. Brian Moore
HD-59    Rep. Bob Kressig
HD-60    Rep. Walt Rogers
HD-61    Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic
HD-62    Rep. Deb Berry
HD-63    Sandy Salmon
HD-64    Bruce Bearinger
HD-65    Rep. Tyler Olson
HD-66    Art Staed
HD-67    Rep. Kraig Paulsen
HD-68    Dan Lundby
HD-69    Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt
HD-70    Rep. Todd Taylor
HD-71    Rep. Mark Smith
HD-72    Dean Fisher
HD-73    Bobby Kaufman
HD-74    Rep. Dave Jacoby
HD-75    Rep. Dawn Pettengill
HD-76    David Maxwell
HD-77    Sally Stutsman
HD-78    Rep. Jarad Klein
HD-79    Rep. Guy Vander Linden
HD-80    Larry Sheets
HD-81    Rep. Mary Gaskill
HD-82    Rep. Curt Hanson
HD-83    Rep. Jerry Kearns
HD-84    Rep. Dave Heaton
HD-85    Rep. Vicki Lensing
HD-86    Rep. Mary Mascher
HD-87    Rep. Dennis Cohoon
HD-88    Rep. Tom Sands
HD-89    Rep. Jim Lykam
HD-90    Rep. Cindy Winckler
HD-91    Rep. Mark Lofgren
HD-92    Frank Wood
HD-93    Rep. Phyllis Thede
HD-94    Rep. Linda Miller
HD-95    Quentin Stanerson
HD-96    Rep. Lee Hein
HD-97    Rep. Steve Olson
HD-98    Rep. Mary Wolfe
HD-99    Rep. Pat Murphy
HD-100 Rep. Chuck Isenhart

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Fiscal Cliffs, Lame Ducks & the Grand Bargain

Now that the election is over, you are probably starting to hear all sorts of news reports about lame ducks, fiscal cliffs and a “grand bargain.” Normally we steer clear of insider terms, but these are things you really do need to know about, because you could feel the impact.

Lame Duck:   An elected official who is still in office after his/her successor
                       has been elected.

The terms of our elected officials end when the new elected officials terms begin, usually sometime in January.  That leaves a period of time between the November election and when the new person takes office in January.  During this time, an elected official is called a “Lame Duck.”  Lame Ducks are free agents, making decisions without worrying about party politics, threats from their leaders, or voters. 

Congress has some work to do before the end of the year (which you’ll read about next), so it will come back in a “lame duck session.”  That is simply a session held between Election Day and when the new Congress takes office.   Those not re-elected don’t feel the pressure of voters and special interest groups, so they can be unpredictable.

Fiscal Cliff:    The deadline Congress set for itself to find a compromise on
                        government spending.

One of the best explanations of the "fiscal cliff" comes from National Public Radio (11/8/2011 Morning Edition).  Here is an excerpt from that broadcast:

Speaking of the fiscal cliff, let's take a minute to review what it is and how it all began. Imagine yourself standing on top of a cliff and it’s December 31st, New Year's Eve and you're looking down, way down, toward New Year's Day. That's the deadline, the day a lot of fiscal policy will change and nearly all of us will feel it unless Congress acts.

Congress, along with the White House, set that deadline to resolve the long nasty fight over (the budget) back in the summer of 2011. Our political leaders thought it would be a good idea...to create an incentive for compromise. So they established automatic cuts and tax (increases) that would take effect on January 1st, 2013, the fiscal cliff.

But no compromise has (been reached), so here we are in November headed toward that fiscal cliff. If Congress does not act before the end of the year there will be across the board cuts in spending to everything but entitlements. That means education, defense, food stamps, national parks, you name it. And there's the other side of the package, the Bush era tax cuts expire, so taxes will go up.

And the cliff gets even higher when you add in the fact that some stimulus measures are expiring January 1st, including the payroll tax holiday and extended unemployment benefits. So both consumers and the government are going to have a lot less to spend if we go over that cliff and that could push the economy back into recession.

You see, Congress has been spending more money than it takes in, borrowing money to make up the difference.  That is our federal deficit – the difference between the money we have, and the money we spend.  We now owe over $1 trillion dollars, and we keep spending.  So Congress set this deadline, the fiscal cliff, and if we don’t find a way to cut spending or bring in more money, we’ll go over the cliff.   Then everyone will feel the cuts, which the Congressional Budget Office reports would send the economy back into recession and increase unemployment to over 9%. 

Grand Bargain:   An agreement President Obama and Speaker of the
                             House John Boehner are working on to keep the country
                             from falling off the fiscal cliff.     

Most believe that the agreement will have to include some tax increases and lots of cuts to mandatory programs (including things like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security) in order to cut the deficit significantly over the next ten years. 

Federal spending affects us all, through roads being fixed to school lunches being available to our social security checks and tax returns coming on time.  You can, and SHOULD, tell your federal representatives what you want them to consider when balancing the federal budget.  

You should contact Sen. Grassley, Sen. Harkin, and your US Representative.  You can find contact information for Iowa’s congressional delegation here.

  • Where do you want to see Congress cut spending? 
  • Where should they avoid cutting? 
  • Should they balance the budget with tax increases, cuts in spending, or a combination of both?

We’ll keep you updated on the ongoing talks during this two-month “lame duck session” – so watch our website alerts and Facebook.  


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MH/DS Transition Committee Update

The Mental Health and Disability Services (MH/DS) Redesign Transition Committee will meet for a final time on Tuesday, November 20 to finalize its report to the Iowa Legislature. The report may include a recommendation that the work group continue to meet to discuss issues related to the transition from the old county-based system to a new regional system.  This meeting is open to the public but will be done by conference call (call-in information will be available here).

The Transition Committee met in October, and was supposed to start to develop their list of legislative recommendations.  However, the discussion became more of a brainstorming session rather than a decision-making session.  Committee members hope to vote on recommendations next week in their meeting, and will allow a minority opinion to be expressed in the final report if the votes are not unanimous.  Keep an eye on our Facebook and our website to find out what happens.

________________________ PROGRESS REPORT: Regions ____________________________

  • 31 counties have applied for transition funds to help get them through this fiscal year without cutting back on services or starting (or growing) waiting lists.

  • As of October 30, 95 counties plan to form 15 regions (2 counties plan to apply for a waiver from regionalization – Jefferson and Carroll Counties; 2 counties have not yet announced their plans).  The regions range in population size from 36,000 to 522,000.
    • 1 region is made of 3 counties
    • 2 regions are made of 4 counties
    • 6 regions are made of 5 counties
    • 1 region includes 6 counties
    • 3 regions have 7 counties
    • 1 region will include 9 counties
    • 1 region will now have 18 counties
  • These regions are not set in stone yet – counties can change their mind about these partnerships up until April 2013, when they must declare a region.

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Final Thoughts & PDF Copy

“Now more than ever the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption.”   James Garfield, 20th President of the United States

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