A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Thursday, March 10:
LIBRARY RESTRICTIONS: Legislation approved by the Iowa Senate will limits the access of R or NC-17 rated materials to patrons under age 17.
The restrictions were amended to Senate File 410, a bill that proposed to reorganize and streamline library services and operations.
It requires libraries receiving state funds to adopt a policy that addresses limiting access to electronic media, videos, or video game resources by a child under 17 years of age if the media, video, or resource has been assigned a rating of R or NC-17, or a comparable rating, by the Motion Picture Association of America, the film advisory board, or the entertainment software rating board. A separate amendment offered by Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, would have required libraries to adopt an Internet filter policy designed to eliminate access to pornography on the public library's computer equipment. It failed on a 25-25 tie vote. The overall bill passed the Senate by a margin of 46-3.
CIVIL WAR EXHIBIT: The Department of Cultural Affairs received $60,000 from the EMC Insurance Foundation of Des Moines to support a traveling exhibit about Iowans and the U.S. Civil War. "The Fiery Trial: Iowa and the Civil War" will be housed in a 32-foot trailer and is part of the State Historical Museum's "History on the Move" educational outreach program. The exhibit rolls out April 12 commemorating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. It will be available during the next two years, officials said. To book the exhibit, contact State Historical Museum Chief Curator Michael Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 281-3859. Bookings include a $50 reservation fee and a $150 travel expense fee.
MARRIAGE RALLY: Officials with the Family Leader organization are hosting a marriage rally at 11:30 a.m. March 15 on the west steps of the state Capitol in Des Moines. Backers say the primary purpose of the rally is "to gather like-minded Iowans to take a stand for natural marriage" and urge Iowa Senate members to approve a resolution that would allow eligible Iowans to vote on a constitutional marriage amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman. In addition to the rally, Chuck Hurley of the Iowa Family Policy Center, a group affiliated with the Family Leader, said attendees also will have the opportunity to participate in a lobbying training session, general lobbying, and prayer sessions throughout the day. Hurley said Tuesday's featured speaker would be Roy Moore, former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court - who refused to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state courthouse despite the orders to do so from a federal judge.
RAILROAD VIOLATION: Peace officers in Iowa would be required to investigate every reported railroad crossing violation by a vehicle operator under Senate File 480 approved by the Iowa Senate Thursday. Senators approved it 27-23. Currently, the initiation of an investigation is optional, said Sen. Daryl Beall, D-Fort Dodge, the bill's floor manager. S.F. 408 increases the scheduled fine for a railroad crossing violation by a vehicle operator, which creates an immediate threat to the safety of a person or property from $200 to $300. All other railroad crossing violations remain punishable by a scheduled fine of $200. Beall said the intent of the legislation is to enhance public safety and to cut down on the number of car-train accidents.
COST OF DELAY: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says four stalled energy projects in Iowa are costing the state's economy $10.2 billion and more than 19,000 jobs a year that could be created during the construction phase alone. The study estimates the potential loss of investment and jobs in the 351 proposed renewable, coal, natural gas, nuclear, and transmission projects in 49 states-including four in Iowa-that have been delayed or cancelled due to "Not in My Back Yard" (NIMBY) activism, a broken permitting process, and a system that allows for limitless lawsuits by opponents. The study features a state-by-state analysis that details the economic output and jobs that could be created by acting on these stagnant projects Among the projects in Iowa is the Elk Run Energy Station, a 750-megawatt pulverized-coal power plant near Waterloo. The city heavily courted LS Power for the project. However, the project has been delayed die to opposition from residents and the zoning and permitting processes. In January 2009, LS Power announced that because of the economic downturn, it was cancelling plans to build the plant. The full study is available here: http://www.uschamber.com/reports/progress-denied-study-potential-economic-impact-permitting-challenges-facing-proposed-energy.
HOME GROWN: The Iowa Department of Agriculture is offering grants for schools to purchase locally-grown fruits and vegetables. To participate in the "Wrap Your Own-Iowa Grown" program, a food service direction must fill out a one-page application which can be found at www.IowaAgriculture.gov by clicking on the "Farm to School" link under Hot Topics. Ten schools will receive a $200 grant to support the purchase of locally-grown produce. Schools will also receive wrapping paper, a list of local growers/distributors and recipes. The department also announced the creation of the "Now That's a Wrap" student photography contest where students are asked to submit photographs of Iowa fruits and vegetables Additional information on the photography program can be found on the "Farm to School" page at www.IowaAgriculture.gov. The submission deadline is May 1, 2011. The photo and application can be emailed to email@example.com or mailed to IDALS-Organics Dept., Attn: Emily Wadle (F2S), 502 E. 9th Street, Des Moines, IA 50319.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I'm concerned that we're actually limiting people's ability to engage in the free-market enterprise of selling their own personal vehicle and infringing on their rights to say my vehicle's for sale, contact me." - Sen. Mark Chelgren, R-Ottumwa, in opposing Senate File 409, legislation that would give cities and counties more authority to combat the proliferation of people making multiple vehicle sales without a dealer's license by parking vehicles on private property without the owner's permission - a practice that independent auto dealers have dubbed "backyard boutiques."