CORALVILLE— Bob Welsh of the Johnson County Task Force on Aging knows how to put on a show. His legislative forum this afternoon, billed as the Iowa Press format, attracted what could be called a gaggle of media. James Q. Lynch of the Gazette/Source Media Group was the only reporter present who had been on the actual Iowa Press, but representatives of Iowa Public Radio, KWWL Television, the Iowa City Press Citizen, the Solon Economist/North Liberty Leader and others were present to hear what key legislators had to say.
On the panel were state senators Bob Dvorsky and Joe Bolkcom, and representatives Mary Mascher and Bobby Kaufmann, all of whom were well behaved, yet passionate about the topics discussed. Adam B. Sullivan of the Press Citizen and Lyle Muller of the Iowa Center for Public Affairs moderated.
With the press ready to listen/photograph/record/quote/tape/notate, it is regrettable no real news was forthcoming. The initial discussion of a law to protect from elder abuse was engaging, but the discussion led the same place the first session of the 85th Iowa General Assembly did on this issue: inconclusive. The rest of the forum’s topics have mostly been covered by the media.
Topics included the property tax bill that passed, TIF reform, how to pay for infrastructure repairs and maintenance, education reform, medical marijuana, the health and human services budget including Medicaid expansion-Iowa style, passenger rail, eminent domain, and transparency during the final days before sine die.
There was unspoken but clear agreement that Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass’s departure to become a school superintendent in Colorado’s Eagle County School District won’t make a difference to education reform.
Sen. Bolkcom: “After three sessions we’re learning to dance better.”
Sen. Dvorsky: “I was one of the people behind closed doors.”
Rep. Mascher: “At some point you have to govern.”
Rep. Kaufmann: “I had the votes (for passenger rail).”
Perhaps the only news may have been that the four legislator agreed on many issues despite their partisanship. That’s what we expected at the beginning of the session, so not really news.