A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Wednesday:
DYNAMIC PRICING: The Iowa House approved Senate File 2389, a plan to allow the Department of Natural Resources to employ dynamic pricing at the state parks and recreation areas.
The proposal will give the DNR flexibility to set the prices of campsites, cabin rentals and other recreational facilities, based on market demand.
However, Democrats warned that the Legislature must increase appropriations to the park system in order to maintain it to Iowans’ expectations.
The House vote on the amended bill was 89-8.
Because the House amended the bill, it must go back to the Senate, which approved the earlier version, 47-0.
COLLEGE VOTER SUMMIT: A two-day College Voter Engagement Summit hosted by the Iowa Secretary of State’s office will be Friday and Saturday at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines.
The summit aims to help prepare students for non-partisan voter registration drives on campus for the 2018 election.
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said there are 300,000 college students in Iowa and the week’s summit is intended to make them “voter ready” for the June primary election and the November general election.
More than 70 participants from 16 colleges and universities across Iowa have registered for the event, which will guide students through step-by-step best practices for establishing a voter-registration drive and help them understand Iowa’s new voter ID requirements.
TREASURE HUNT AUCTION: State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald announced Wednesday he’ll be resuming Great Iowa Treasure Hunt eBay to advertise contents from abandoned safe deposit boxes that were turned over to the his office.
“We work very hard to find the rightful owners of these boxes and return the contents to them,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “As Iowa financial institutions deliver new contents to our office, we have to make room in the vault. Therefore, we are selling contents that we have held for over five years.”
The auction will close Tuesday. Many items in the auction are one-of-a-kind or collectibles that were turned over to the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt, he said.
Items in the online auction include a two-piece wedding band set; peace dollars; silver-plated spoons; and 20 Morgan silver dollars dated 1921.
To bid, visit ebay.com/usr/ia.unclaimed.property.
LINE OF SUCCESSION: The House approved Senate Joint Resolution 2006 to submit a constitutional amendment to voters clarifying that the lieutenant governor becomes governor if there is a vacancy in that office and that the governor has the authority to appoint a lieutenant governor for the remainder of the term if there is a vacancy in that office.
The constitutional change would resolve questions about the line of succession that arose when Kim Reynolds moved from lieutenant governor to governor after Terry Branstad resigned.
There were questions whether she would be an acting governor or the actual governor with all the authority of someone elected to that office. Also, it was not clear whether she could appoint a lieutenant governor.
The House voted 56-40 to defeat an amendment calling for the House and Senate to confirm the governor’s lieutenant governor appointment.
Democrats said such a vote would allow the Legislature to vet the lieutenant governor appointee.
Republicans responded that approach would allow partisanship, similar to that which Democrats complained about, when the U.S. Senate delayed confirmation of a Supreme Court justice until after the election of Donald Trump.
The joint resolution must pass both the House and Senate in the same form and then be approved again by the next Iowa General Assembly to come before voters in 2020.
The Senate approved an earlier version of the resolution, 45-4.
MORE PARTISAN FRAYS: Tri-partisan differences over President Donald Trump and his federal trade policy, the direction of state government and unresolved issues holding up adjournment of the 2018 election-year session contributed to more frayed nerves in the Iowa Senate on Wednesday.
Senators spent almost as much time making “points of personal privilege” than they did passing legislation during the day’s proceedings.
The escalating political digs reached a boiling point when Sen. Mark Chelgren, R-Ottumwa, rose to challenge remarks made by Ocheyedan independent Sen. David Johnson about the president.
He called his fellow senator “an idiot” in the process.
After twice being summoned for consultations on Senate decorum with the presiding officer, Chelgren apologized for the remark, which Johnson accepted and closed his comments by telling the Senate “we’re all tense around here. We need to take a deep breath. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’m surprised you didn’t play the Russian national anthem when I came in.” — Sam Clovis, a USDA policy adviser from Sioux City, joking to the Westside Conservatives Club about the ongoing investigation into Russia’s alleged attempts to meddle in 2016 U.S. presidential election, an investigation which helped derail Clovis’ nomination to a post as the USDA’s top scientist
— Times Bureau