This will be a short work week for Iowa legislators, but work will begin on a package that would use part of the state’s "rainy day" savings account to pay for flood recovery efforts.
House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha is from Linn County and represents a small section of Cedar Rapids, a city that was hard hit by the late spring flooding. "There’s thousands of Iowans who still can’t sleep in their home," Paulsen says.
Last week Governor Culver proposed using $43 million in the state’s economic emergency fund to finance proposals designed to address problems created by last spring’s natural disasters. Paulsen will be among legislators pressing for more than $43 million. "From my perspective and granted, I’m from Linn County, the economic emergency fund was created exactly for this kind of situation that Iowans are in right now," Paulsen says. "I was actually, on a personal level, hoping that the number might be a little bit higher…about $75 million."
Democrats who control the legislature’s debate agenda hope the proposal clears the legislator and lands on the governor’s desk by the end of next week. Paulsen doesn’t expect Republicans to stand in the way of disaster recovery legislation. "The number one issue in the state of Iowa right now is responding to the economic situation we’re in," Paulsen says, "the majority of which is responding to the disaster and making sure we get the economies going again, not just in those areas but statewide."
State legislators aren’t meeting today because of the Martin Luther King holiday. Tomorrow will see limited legislative activity at the statehouse, too, because some lawmakers have gone to Washington, D.C. to attend Barack Obama’s inauguration. Legislators who are in Des Moines tomorrow will be able to watch the proceedings on television, as legislative leaders do not plan to schedule any midday meetings tomorrow during the inauguration ceremony.
On Wednesday, some state representatives and many senators will attend the funeral of former State Senator Mary Lundby of Marion who died on cancer on Saturday. The funeral will be held at 1 p.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Marion.