Legislative briefings begin Saturday
With the Iowa legislative session beginning today, the first of three legislative briefings is scheduled to be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday in the Washington County Courthouse second floor courtroom.
According to moderator Ed Raber, legislators expected to attend include: Sen. Sandra Greiner, R-Dist. 45; Sen. Rich Taylor, D-Dist. 42; Rep. Jarad Klein, R-Dist. 78; and Rep. David Heaton, R-Dist. 84. He said that the forum is designed to allow the legislators to provide updates on issues and to allow the public an opportunity to give feedback. The public is invited to attend the briefing.
“We limit the public’s comments to two minutes to ensure everyone has a chance to talk,” Raber said. “Sometimes we make it all the way around the room before noon and people get another chance to ask questions.”
Saturday’s briefing is the first of three scheduled briefings. The three will be held on the third Saturday of the month through March.
The Washington Chamber of Commerce sponsors the briefings. Chamber director Michelle Redlinger said that this is the 17th year that the briefings will be held. Raber said that most counties do at least one legislative briefing and that the Washington County briefing’s time is determined by other briefings the attending legislators have to go to on the same day.
“We do it mostly to have a forum where the public can have the opportunity to ask our legislators about current issues or things that directly affect our community,” Redlinger said.
She said that normally most of the seats in the courtroom are full for the briefings.
Raber said that with the session only beginning, he believes that it will be too early to know what will be a really hot issue this year. He said that at the end of the first week, the legislators are only getting their assignments to committees and beginning to discuss the topics that the Legis-lature will cover.
With the briefing set in a courtroom, Raber reminds people not to bring food or soda. He said that water was fine, but anything else was not allowed. He also said that, with the two minute limit for speaking, people should plan their questions to allow for the time.
Neither Raber nor Redlinger have a guess of what issues will be important to people this year. Raber said that last year the focus was on property tax reform and education.
“It will be determined,” Redlinger said.
“It is still too early to tell.”