It has been relatively quiet in the State Senate compared to the Iowa House this year. Historically that has always been the case, but it is especially true when the Democrats have a 32 to 18 seat advantage over Republicans. Senate Democrats can pretty much do what they please, but they need two Republicans to able to confirm Culver’s appointees.
Yesterday, Senate Democrats were unable to find two Republicans to confirm Shearon Elderkin, Governor Culver’s appointee to serve as a member on the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC).
Senate Republican Leader McKinley said, “Though the governor is entitled to appoint who he wants to serve in his administration, members of the Iowa Senate have a serious and very distinct ‘advise and consent’ role to ensure that the taxpayers of Iowa are being well served by the appointments made by the governor. Senators were invited to meet with Mrs. Elderkin, who took questions from the lawmakers. She misrepresented the position she has taken on the EPC, and her failure to be forthright while misrepresenting her position in front of the senators raises many serious red flags. When asked about several issues before the commission, including her views on particulate matter, Mrs. Elderkin failed to provide a defensible reason or rationale to senators about her stances. This is an important commission that affects the economy and health of all Iowans, and that is why Mrs. Elderkin’s nomination is not in the best interest of Iowa taxpayers.”
Elderkin’s defeat marks the first time in five years that Senator Mike Gronstal has lost a vote on the floor of the Iowa Senate. After the vote, a visibly upset Gronstal abruptly adjourned for the day.
There is another nomination battle planned for today as the Senate will take up Gene Gessow’s reappointment to the Iowa Department of Human Services. Republicans are not happy with how Gessow handled the Atalissa bunkhouse scandal, where mentally handicapped men were living in sub-standard conditions while working at a turkey farm.
State Senator Jack Hatch said that Gessow’s appointment was, “The most important vote we will take in the next 10 years.” However, many question Hatch’s judgment after an incident a few weeks ago where he a racial slur on the floor of the Iowa House.
Gronstal and Governor Culver are upset with Senate Republican Leader McKinley for blocking the nominations. While McKinley and the Republicans are opposing the nominations for specific reasons, Gronstal probably hasn’t done himself any favors by refusing to allow a vote on a marriage amendment to the Iowa constitution following the Iowa Supreme Court’s opinion on gay marriage.
Not only has Gronstal blocked every attempt to bring up a vote on a constitutional amendment, he has also acted in a condescending manor in doing so. It seems as if Senator Gronstal should have employed some different tactics if these appointees are so important to Governor Culver.
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