Republicans and two Democrats in the Iowa Senate have voted to end the senate’s confirmation process for the governor’s appointments to more than two dozen state boards and commissions.
Under current law, the governor’s nominees for nearly 140 boards, commissions and councils in state government must be confirmed by a two-thirds vote in the senate to serve. Republican Senator Roby Smith of Davenport said if 26 senators sign a petition, any of the nominees to the boards on this new list would be subject to the confirmation process.
“If someone feels that someone’s not qualified or should not be confirmed…that sends them through the process to be reconsidered,” Smith said, “and then they have to get 34 votes.”
Senator Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, said this gets rid of automatic checks and balances for important state boards.
“We had somebody that was appointed to the Commission on the Status of Women not too long ago that was an absolute sexist pig,” Petersen said, “and we turned them down — all of us in here.”
Members of the boards that oversee Iowa’s prison system and the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy are also among the groups that would no longer be automatically reviewed by senators and subject to a confirmation vote. Senator Todd Taylor, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, said this is “the worst possible time” to end confirmation for members of those boards.
“We need more oversight, not less. We need more accountability, not less. We need more citizens’ involvement, not less,” Taylor said. “We need checks and balances. Everybody understands that.”
Senator Smith accused Democrats of exaggerating. “To say that the governor has full control if this bill is passed is not accurate,” Smith said.
Members of 111 other state oversight boards still would still have to get 34 “yes” votes in the senate in order to serve. There are currently 32 Republicans in the state senate. That gives Democrats in the minority the power to block confirmations supported by the GOP majority. That was the case last year with a person the governor had nominated for the Iowa Public Information Board. It’s one of the boards whose members would no longer be automatically reviewed by senators if the bill becomes law.