The old saying is that the devil’s in the details, and Iowa lawmakers are bedeviled today as they try to wrap up the work of the 2006 Legislative session.
Senate Republican Leader Mary Lundby of Marion says at one point this (Wednesday) morning, senators couldn’t even vote because the Senate computer system wouldn’t work. “The computer glitch slowed us down a bit so we’re moving a little slower than we expected today,” Lundby says.
Another sticking point: the details haven’t been ironed out yet on the teacher pay package. “The teacher pay and the ed policy pieces are so crucial to the entire picture this year that to think that we could just run those smoothly and smile and sing Kum-By-Ya was probably a little unrealistic on my part,” Lundby says.
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says the actual wording of the teacher pay plan — the part that starts to link pay hikes to classroom performance — is unresolved. “There continue to be negotiations about the language in the teacher salary bill,” Gronstal says. There’s also been a flurry of last-minute activity as lobbyists for the TouchPlay industry and a couple of sympathetic legislators try to get a compromise that would allow the machines to operate for a few more months so TouchPlay owners can recoup more of their investment.
Gronstal, the leader of Democrats in the Senate, says action is still possible. “Twenty, 30, 40 businesses going bankrupt is not a good outcome,” Gronstal says. “We ought to have a mechanism to mitigate the damages for those companies.”
Senate Co-President Jeff Lamberti, a Republican from Ankeny, says he’s heard wildly different estimates of the “damages” the TouchPlay owners will suffer, anywhere from 30-million to nine-hundred million. “Up to this point we have had no high degree of confidence in the numbers that have been provided,” Lamberti says.
Lamberti’s father started the Casey’s General Stores chain, a competitor of the Kum ‘N Go convenience store chain which invested heavily in TouchPlay.