The first public meeting between the new Republican leader of the state senate and the senate’s long-time Democratic leader featured many of the same partisan arguments that led to gridlock at the statehouse this past year.
The 2011 Iowa legislative session ran into serious overtime, concluding at the end of June without resolution on issues like property tax relief and gay marriage.
Republicans control the Iowa House by a 20-seat majority. Democrats have a two-seat majority in the Senate and Republicans failed to win a special election in eastern Iowa earlier this month to change that. Republican Senators, though, have elected a new leader in Jerry Behn.
“We are 100 percent united for a pro-growth agenda, increasing jobs in this state and a lazer vision on looking at the 2012 elections to illustrate the differences (in) the ideas that the Republicans have versus the obstruction that’s been going on in the senate,” Behn said yesterday.
Behn and Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal on Thursday taped a joint appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program which airs tonight. Gronstal suggested voters will be asked to resolve the major issue conflicts in 2012 by choosing to support either Democrat or Republican candidates for the legislature.
“This next year, to the extent we disagree, I think it’s kind of like, “O.K., that’s what we disagree on. That’ll be one of the issues we talk about in our campaign,'” Gronstal said.
According to Gronstal, there are a “host of issues” on which the two parties can agree. “But to the extent we can’t, especially in an election year, you kind of stake out your territory and in the fall campaign you tell Iowans why it’s important to elect people of your party,” Gronstal said.
At various points in the conversation each did things like shake their head, wave their hands or grin while the other talked to illustrate their opposition to what the other was saying. “I just grin when stuff hits me as funny, I guess,” Behn said when asked about his facial expression. “But reality is, (Gronstal) is going back to his old talking points on this.”
The 2012 Iowa legislative session is scheduled to begin January 9.
Photo courtesy of Iowa Public TV