By Sen. DENNIS BLACK
Some might well consider my grading of the legislative session to be self-serving! Hardly, because I've never considered a "C" as a good grade. Conversely, it is average, and I think we should strive to exceed the status quo and seek perfection, which is unattainable.
A perfect legislative session has never occurred, and is actually impossible. This is because there will always be winners and losers. Perhaps the "give and take," known as "compromise," is that which would make a session be determined as successful. However, that only occurred yesteryear!
Compromise used to be commonplace in Iowa, and throughout the country, but no more. Gridlock tends to be the end result during the past decade, whether in Washington or Iowa, which I attribute to several basic reasons, being 1) legislators tend to be far younger, and with youth comes idealism, but also few life experiences; 2) fringe issues fire up the zealots, regardless of the party, who then seem to forget the basic function of government according to President Lincoln is "to do for people those things they are unable to do for themselves," and 3) the astronomical amount of money that is seemingly necessary in order to get elected in the first place. Think of it ... is there any reason that the combined costs for a seat in an Iowa Senate District would require a million dollars? This is not the norm by far, but a couple of such races have occurred in the past, and several will occur this campaign season. Such magnitude of raising money cannot help but create in the winner a feeling of infallibility and a degree of beholding to the Super PACs that provided the means to their successful objective of being elected.
This session we gained ground in several areas, and at least recognized what the future holds as far as next year's session. Iowans have the future of this state in their hands at this flals general election, primarily because of the huge gap that exists between the two parties in key areas, i.e. taxation policy, further implementation of education reform and the lightning rod social issues that tend to turn neighbor against neighbor.
In my opinion, division of ideology in a General Assembly is not all that bad. In the end, it forces compromise. When one party controls the whole enchilada,, the end result in this day and age would not be in the best interests of a diverse society and economy. And, in the 2012 session, legislators resisted temptations from many fronts to provide the means to amend the Iowa Constitution. Thus, our guiding document emerged unscathed.
The governor now has on his desk the bills that were passed by the legislature in the final days. He has a month in which to sign or veto them, or perform line-item vetoes in appropriations (spending) bills. Therefore, I shall write my weekly column to relate to readers the actions of the governor, and the final results of legislation that affects your life.
Questions or comments? Call me at 515-975-8608 or email dblack(at sign)black4senate.com.