A state senator has delayed a vote on a bill that would increase the cigarette tax because he says the governor bullied some senators in a private meeting. “To browbeat my colleagues and myself I don’t think is an acceptable way of doing business,” Zieman says. Zieman, a republican from Postville, cancelled Wednesday’s subcommittee meeting on a bill that would raise the cigarette tax a dollar. Zieman was among a group of lawmakers who met with Vilsack on Tuesday, and Zieman says the governor threatened to keep the legislature in session until they adopt his agenda — and the cigarette tax is on Vilsack’s “to-do” list. Zeiman says the governor was making “idle threats” so he decided senators didn’t have to discuss the cigarette tax hike Vilsack wants. “My only agenda is to watch out for the taxpayers of Iowa,” Zieman says. “That’s my job.” Zieman will not vote to raise the cigarette tax, but he says until that Tuesday afternoon show-down with the governor he was willing to allow the bill to clear its first legislative hurdle in that subcommittee. But Matt Paul, the Governor’s press secretary, disagrees with Zieman’s description of his meeting with the governor. “The governor just respectfully disagrees with that characterization,” Paul says. “He was flabbergasted by that characterization.” Senator Joel Bolkcom (bowl’kum), a democrat from Iowa City, was in on the meeting that’s caused all the hubub. “Senator Zieman held his own and can hold his own anywhere, anyday,” Bolkcom says. “The governor articulated his priorities and you know, there’s some disagreement about it, but I think we should just let the day go by and get back after it tomorrow.” Ironically, the meeting that’s caused the uproar came just an hour after legislators and the governor sat through a lecture on civility.
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