Iowa Politics Today: Constitutional carry, deer hunting tweaks, don't blame Blue Bunny for Steve King

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A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Monday, April 3, 2017:

CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY: An amendment to the Iowa Constitution to add the right to acquire, keep, possess, transport, carry, transfer and use arms has been proposed by Rep. Matt Windschitl. R-Missouri Valley.

All restrictions of those rights would be subject to “strict scrutiny” under House Joint Resolution 13, according to the resolution by Windschitl. He has offered similar proposals in the past and is floor manager of House File 517, which has been approved by the House and is pending in the Senate.

If adopted, the resolution would be referred to the next general assembly for adoption a second time before being submitted to the electorate for ratification.

DEER HUNTING CHANGE: Iowans would be allowed to use straight wall cartridge rifles when hunting deer under a House-passed bill that won support of the Iowa Senate 49-0 and is heading to Gov. Terry Branstad’s desk.

Straight wall cartridge riles are the same caliber and use the same straight-walled cartridges legal for use in handguns, said Sen. Ken Rozenboom, R-Oskaloosa, which produces less recoil and makes them more attractive for people new to the sport.

House File 475 directs the state Natural Resource Commission to adopt rules for the use of straight wall cartridge during the youth and disabled deer hunting seasons and for the first and second shotgun deer hunting seasons by licensed deer hunters.

The bill includes a provision making possession of a prohibited rifle a violation carrying a $250 fine and a two-year license suspension.

BOYCOTT UNFAIR: A boycott of a Wells Blue Bunny, a “great Iowa company,” would not be fair, Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday.

LULAC. the League of United Latin American Citizens, has called for a boycott of the Le Mars-based company because the ice cream maker “reportedly” supports U.S. Rep. Steve King, a Kiron Republican.

Four members of the family that owns the company have contributed about $34,000 to King. However, the company issued a statement saying not only does it not contribute to King’s campaign, but his recent comments about immigrants “do not align with the values of our company.”

“It’s not the company that is doing this,” Branstad said about the company that has more than 2,000 employees and annually produces about 150 million gallons of ice cream sold under the Blue Bunny name and other brands. “They’re a great family-owned business that has done a lot, they have wonderful quality products. I don’t think it’s appropriate to boycott a whole company and its products because some family members have contributed to a particular political candidate.”

The 16 Iowa LULAC councils said recently they condemn King’s recent statement about not being able to restore “our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” It is asking stores that carry Blue Bunny to remove the products from their shelves.

CONFIRMATION TALK: Two Senate committees Monday approved more than 40 of Gov. Terry Branstad’s appointees to state boards and commissions as part of the confirmation process.

Members of the Senate State Government Committee forwarded their appointees to the en bloc list for consideration for the full Senate but not before Sen. Wally Horn, D-Cedar Rapids, complained that Jeff Lamberti of Ankeny and Carl Heinrich of Council Bluffs were members of a state Racing and Gaming Commission that blocked an effort to bring a state-licensed casino to Cedar Rapids.

Later the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee approved Bob Sinclair, Chad Ingalls and Howard Hill as members of the state Environmental Protection Commission.

Earlier in the day, Branstad told his weekly news conference he did not believe Geri Huser has done anything inappropriate in continuing to do outside legal work while serving as a member of the Iowa Utilities Board.

Gubernatorial nominees must receive a two-thirds majority of the Iowa Senate — or 34 affirmative votes — to win confirmation for a state appointment. The deadline for Senate action is April 15.

FUTURE READY: Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Monday she will make a series of visits this week to learn more about programs Iowa may want to expand as it works to reach the state’s Future Ready Iowa goal.

Her itinerary includes events in Johnston and Des Moines on Tuesday and Waukee on Thursday.

The Future Ready Iowa goal is for 70 percent of the workforce to have education or training beyond high school by the year 2025. About 58 percent of Iowa’s workforce does now.

Reynolds said closing this skills gap is critical to assuring more Iowans have rewarding career opportunities, and that employers can hire the skilled workers they need to innovate and grow. Reynolds serves as co-chair of the Future Ready Iowa Alliance.

STATE SETTLES CLAIM: The State Appeal Board voted 3-0 Monday to pay $150,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a patient at the Clarinda Mental Health Institute who choked to death in September 2013 while eating a peanut butter sandwich.

Officials said Richard Rollins Meredith died after workers at the MHI gave him a peanut butter sandwich rather than pureed food that was ordered by his doctor. Meredith’s relatives brought a lawsuit in Page County District Court alleging state employees tried to cover up the details of alleged inadequate care that led to his death.

CROP REPORT: Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says damp weather has mostly kept farmers from starting spring field work.

Some fertilizer applications have taken place as the weather allowed, he noted in his weekly crop report, adding that just 6 percent of oats have been planted, which is nearly a week behind the five-year average.

According to Northey, topsoil moisture levels rated 1 percent very short, 6 percent short, 67 percent adequate, and 26 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 2 percent very short, 6 percent short, 72 percent adequate, and 20 percent surplus.

DOT AUCTION: The state Department of Transportation will hold a public auction of state-owned equipment at 9 a.m. April 22 at its grounds on South Fourth Street in Ames.

Laptop computers, equipment for offices and shops, automotive supplies and many other items are included in the sale. The computers are sold with no operating system or software.

Office equipment to be sold includes 60 laptop computers, several copiers, tables, chairs, and storage and file cabinets.

Shop equipment items include a bench grinder, a chain hoist, jacks, saws, drill presses, generators, mowers, a pressure washer and truck boxes.

A limited number of vehicles will be included in this auction. Automotive supplies, radios, and many other items also will be sold.

Items for sale may be inspected at the sale site from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 21 and from 7 to 9 a.m. April 22.

A listing of auction items is available at iowadot.gov/auction/auctlist.htm.

SEVERE WEATHER: Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds are highlighting the importance of preparing for Iowa’s severe weather season, noting 21 Iowans have died during violent storms over the past nine years.

Mark Schouten, director of the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, advised Iowans Monday to make an emergency plan for their family, build an emergency supply kit and to be aware of hazards in their areas.

“We are at the beginning of severe weather season, and it’s almost certain we will see more bad weather in the coming weeks and months,” Schouten said.

For more information go to the www.beready.iowa.gov website.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I would like to thank Freddie for the long nights we had together, but we made it happen.” — Sen. Roby Smith, R-Davenport, in giving a shoutout Monday to the Republican Senate caucus staffer who assisted with moving bills through the Senate State Government Committee this session.

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