Statehouse Democrats say even if they win control of the legislature next week, they’re not like to give local officials authority over large-scale livestock operations. Democrats who’re running for governor and Secretary of Agriculture both say they support “local control” but House Democratic Leader Pat Murphy of Dubuque says not enough Democrats in the Iowa House do.”I don’t think there’s enough votes to pass that in the House,” Murphy says.
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs agrees that not enough Democrats in the Senate, who he describes as part of a “caucus” of Senate Democrats, will not vote to do away with statewide standards for the livestock industry. “I think Pat’s right. There’s a division of opinion in our caucus,” Gronstal says. “We’re going to make sure that the environment’s protected…and we’re going to continue to move forward on those issues.”
Senate Republican Leader Mary Lundby of Marion says the only way city and county officials would be given veto power over where livestock confinements may be built is it enough citizens demand it, and Lundby says in most legislative races, it hasn’t been an issue. “It’s like any other issue in this state…If the public is interested enough in the issue, then the (legislators) will respond to that,” Lundby says.
House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, says while legislators may not abandon the law which established statewide standards for livestock confinements, it may be modified next year. Rants suggests legislators from both parties may agree to change the law’s “set-back” requirements — the amount of land that must be between a confinement and a tourist destination, for example.
“There was a lot of discussion about that this summer, particularly up around Lake Okoboji. I know there’s similar concern around Clear Lake,” Rants says. “You know, we set in (state law) distances several years ago…It may be time to revisit that.” The four legislative leaders made their comments after making a joint appearance on Iowa Public Television that will be broadcast tonight at 7:30.