The Greiner Report
There was extra hustle and bustle at the Capitol this week as preparations were being made for the visit of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping. The first floor of our Capitol was set up with round tables, set for the State Dinner. Historians cannot document another State Dinner ever being held in the Capitol, so this was a very historic occasion.
I’ve attended a lot of banquets in my lifetime, and I will have to say the food at this event was head and shoulders above anything I’d ever been served at a convention or political gathering. As I left the event at the end of the evening, I used a back elevator to get out. As I went through the basement of the Capitol I passed dozens of security people sitting at tables in the cafeteria, and I noticed a stretcher, equipped with medical necessitates parked along the wall. Clearly, the security team was prepared to handle any emergency that might occur during VP Xi’s visit.
All 150 legislators were invited to attend the dinner, and we were reminded that each of us would be acting as ambassadors for Iowa during the dinner event. About 650 people were invited to attend and space limitations prevented expanding the invitation list further.
China has become an increasingly important trading partner for the United States. It purchased $20 billion in U.S. agriculture exports last year, making it the top buyer of farm goods, so understandably, agriculturalists across the state and nation are very excited that Xi has shown such an interest in Iowa. A new agreement was struck this week for soybean sales to China, but I really think we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg as far increased trading opportunities.
Several bills of interest came across my desk this week. SF 2173 would allow fire and emergency medical services to charge a fee for services rendered. This bill has passed out of the State Government Committee and there is an excellent chance that it will be debated on the floor of the Senate. If you have strong feelings about this concept, I need to hear about it.
SF 2167 amends Code 481A.72, which regulates fishing licenses. The proposal is to allow the use of three instead of two lines. In order to use the third line, a permit would be required of both resident and non-residents, at an additional cost of $10 annually.
Other changes made in SF 2167 include new three year license options for Iowa residents in both fishing and hunting licenses, with provisions made to credit the wild life habitat account in the appropriate amount. The bill was proposed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and has already been passed through the Senate Natural Resources Committee. I would suggest that anyone really interested in it, look it up on the Internet, as I have given only a very basic description of what the bill does.
Next week is the first “Funnel Week,” the Legislature’s self- imposed deadline which helps to winnow down the number of bills eligible for consideration and debate. Senate files must be passed by Senate committees by the end of next week to remain alive for further debate and House files must pass through House committees. Of course, many of the bills that don’t make it through committee will be revived as amendments to be considered on other bills. It’s all a process to begin closing down the session for the year.