116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest:
LISTEN UP, BUSTER; YOU, TOO, DAVE: Supporters of legislation aimed at bringing the popular arcade chain Dave & Buster's to Iowa turned up winning numbers last week in the Iowa Senate. Those winning numbers were 45 yes, five no among the 50 senators who were asked to consider legislation that would raise the current cap of $100 up to a new level of $950 on prizes that can be redeemed at businesses that operate arcades. Backers of Senate File 2333, and a companion bill in the Iowa House, said raising the current limits of $100 or less at businesses where customers can redeem game tickets or tokens for 'amusement concession' prizes could open the door for Dave & Buster's to locate its restaurant/arcade business in Iowa. No senator spoke on the legislation, which sponsor Sen. Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs, described as 'the Dave & Buster's bill.' But Ocheyedan independent Sen. David Johnson noted after the debate that he opposed the measure because it appeared to be too targeted to assist one specific business. 'Neither Dave nor Buster contacted me to explain what they needed,' said Johnson. 'It appears on the surface to be another special favor for somebody, that we're making changes in state code in order to accommodate a single enterprise. I just don't think that's smart economic development.' The bill, which would take effect upon the governor's signature, specifies that the maximum prize change is 'only for' an amusement concession conducted at a facility that is at least 15,000 square feet. 'I just know in Northwest Iowa, I don't see any prospects for Dave & Buster stores opening up there at all,' noted Johnson.
HEAD IN THE CLOUD: State government agencies in Iowa generate about 17 million emails each month, which the state's open records law and regulations require be retained. David Roederer, director of the state Department of Management, says the data was previously stored on servers the state would purchase but now the emails go to 'the cloud' — storage services that can be accessed through state web browsers via a dedicated mobile app. Roederer told members of the House-Senate budget subcommittee on administration and regulations last week that the stored data includes records of people 'who have been deceased for some time.' In the process of retaining that required information, Roederer said he was informed the cost to transfer those emails into the cloud was going to cost an additional $1 million. 'OK so we said no, hold on, let's let reason come into play just a little bit here,' he said, noting that the data remained 'parked under the old system' until state officials come up with a more economical way to proceed. The state management director also said he would prefer to have all state technology issues come through one budget subcommittee, rather than be 'pieced out' among various budget areas that make managing the state's needs and capabilities more challenging.
TRYING TO MAKE LEMONADE: Iowa Public Safety Commissioner Roxann Ryan and Attorney General Tom Miller told legislators looking at making midyear cuts to their budget areas that are making the best of a bad situation. Ryan told members of the House-Senate Justice Systems Budget Subcommittee on Thursday that her department is able to absorb a requested cut of $587,645 to the Iowa State Patrol through fiscal 2019 by keeping open 58 vacant positions and holding back on some equipment purchases. Ryan praised the coordination of local, state and federal agencies in addressing challenges in areas of school safety, human trafficking and drug trafficking at a time when Iowa's crime rate — including violent crimes — is 'up a bit.' Under legislative questioning, Ryan said there may be some late nights when only five troopers are patrolling Iowa roadways statewide, 'but it's rare.' Miller concurred that a $310,000 midyear cut to his agency would adversely affect prosecutions and force him to use consumer protection money to fund priority needs due to unfilled positions in the criminal division.