Green Flag, Red Flag


Good ideas and Bad ideas.

Good Idea -- State lawmakers are moving to remove regulatory barriers for beer brewers and spirits distillers with hopes of boosting some growing, native businesses that clearly are a good fit for Iowa's economy.

One bill would allow Iowa breweries to make hopped-up ales and other popular craft brews with higher alcohol content. It's already legal for out-of-state breweries to sell those beers in Iowa.

Another measure would allow Iowa distillers, such as Templeton Rye, to sell their products on site. Take a tour, take home a bottle.

Bad idea -- Throw around piles of taxpayer dough to bribe the film industry into setting up shop in Iowa.

The film tax credit fiasco spawned criminal charges this week. The charges spawned a Democratic family feud between former state party chair Gordon Fischer, who is representing former film office director Tom Wheeler, and Attorney General Tom Miller, who filed the charges.

But aside from the circus, ISU economist David Swenson reminds us why this was a bad idea to begin with:

It was a fiasco on three fronts. First, the grant of a fully-refundable credit on 50 percent of costs was fiscally unsustainable, legislatively irresponsible, and set the stage for the documented abuses that occurred. Second, Iowa does not have the population, talent, geography, climate, visual amenities, and the whole array of agglomerations that would support a meaningful and sustainable year-round film industry. It never will. And third, the creative economy, as in arts and entertainment, will not be a leading driver of the Iowa economy because they all had it backwards: arts and entertainment clusters of the kind described by Mr. (Richard) Florida are a result of other economic growth not the cause.

Read the whole thing. (h/t Bleeding Heartland)

Good Idea -- Making CEOs publicly endorse the political messages they bankroll in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling allowing corporations to play in politics. State lawmakers are considering a bill with that requirement.

"I'm CEO Jane Smith, and I approve this message." 

The legacy of this ruling needs to be expanded accountability, transparency and disclosure. This would be one small step. More are needed.

Bad Idea -- Making Iowa Supreme Court justices into vote-chasing, poll-watching weather vanes like some of their legislative/executive branch friends. Or appointing them based on geography.

From The Gazette:

A pair of proposals to change the structure of the Iowa Supreme Court spring from their sponsors sense there is a disconnect between Iowans and their court.

“When I do forums, I hear people wondering ‘Who are these people?’” Rep. Rod Roberts, R-Carroll, said.

His proposal, House Joint Resolution 2012, calls for appointing nine justices – one from each judicial district and one at-large. It would require justices to continue to live in the district as long as they sit on the court.

“Even people in the legal profession tell me this would help the court get connected at the grass roots level,” he said.

Rep. Kent Sorenson, R-Indianola, would go further. HJR 2013 calls for direct election of the justices.

“People are frustrated with the justices not answering to the people,” Sorenson said.

You think people are frustrated now, just wait until we have a court system filled with political hacks in robes.

Justices should answer to the state constitution, the law and precedent, not to public sentiment. They're appointed through a bipartisan, drama-free process that focuses on their experience and qualifications. They already face regular retention votes.

So explain to me why we would throw out that system in favor of open electioneering. It's a horrible idea.

And picking them by geography instead of qualifications isn't much better.

How is this stuff conservative?

You don't want judges who "legislate from the bench," so you elect them just like legislators?

Quotas are unfair, but it's OK to pick an eastern Iowa judge over someone from, say, western Iowa who might be more qualified? And how does your interpretation of the constitution change based on where you live?The good news is that neither of these ideas has a chance of passing.  

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