NEW HOUSE MEMBER: Rep.-elect Todd Prichard, D-Charles City, is scheduled to be sworn-in at 4 p.m. Tuesday as the 100th member of the Iowa House. Prichard was elected last week by voters in Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw and Floyd counties in a special election in House District 52 to replace Rep. Brian Quirk, who stepped down in November. The Jan. 22 special election results were certified Monday by the Iowa Executive Council, serving in its capacity as the state’s Board of Canvass. House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Des Moines, announced Monday that Prichard will serve on the House agriculture, state government, and ways and means committees as well as the joint House-Senate Justice Systems Appropriations Subcommittee. Prichard, who is married and has three children, is a member of the Iowa National Guard, owns a small business in Charles City and was a Floyd County assistant county attorney before being elected to the Iowa House. His arrival at the Statehouse means Republicans hold a 53-47 edge in the House.
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Kim Reynolds reiterated their positions that people should be able to vote on whether same-sex couples be allowed to marry in Iowa, although neither came out personally for, or against, it. The duo spoke at the administration’s weekly news conference when the question was posed because of a scheduled Monday event where former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman and other Republicans were talking to the party about embracing same-sex marriage. “We’ve always said that it should go to a vote of the people, and that’s the position that I’ve always indicated,” Reynolds said. “I’ve never indicated what my position is on that, because I thought that individuals have the right to weigh in on that.”
LOCAL FOOD: Iowans are being encouraged to consider joining a local Community Supported Agriculture program to get access to fresh, locally grown produce. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey called the program “a great opportunity to partner with a farmer and share in the harvest.” Through CSAs, farmers sell a certain number of subscriptions, or shares, and then provide a portion of their harvest to those members, typically on a weekly basis, throughout the growing season. This allows the customers to share in the farming risk as they may receive an abundance of produce during good growing years, but less when there are difficult growing conditions. The number of Iowa CSAs has grown from 50 in 2006 to more than 90 in 2012. A list can be found at www.localharvest.org or at www.practicalfarmers.org under “local foods.
COMPETING TAX RELIEF: Gov. Terry Branstad said he respects the various tax-cut ideas “being floated” at the Statehouse, but told reporters income tax reductions may have to wait a year while the legislature addresses property tax relief and reform this session. Legislature Republicans last week proposed returning the taxpayer overpayment that has piled to an $800-plus million surplus to Iowans via a state income tax credit that would total $750 per household or $375 for individual filers. The five-term GOP governor said he is open to considering other proposals once lawmakers finish work on multi-year initiatives to cut commercial property tax rates, cap the growth in ag and residential property taxes and provide meaningful education reforms that boost student achievement.
HEALTHY STATES: Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds will be on hand for Wednesday’s announcement of the next blue zones communities. They will join officials from Wellmark to announce the latest additions to the state’s blue zones effort. Cities that are chosen as blue zone communities receive assistance from experts to develop and implement blueprints for healthier behaviors. Branstad said the blue zones initiative is a key component of his push to get Iowa to become the healthiest state in the nation.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Every one of these healthy metrics says the state of Iowa has been headed in the wrong direction, so trying to turn a big battleship like this is no easy task but that’s exactly what the goal of this ambitious project is. Our goal is for Iowa to become the healthiest state in the nation.” — Gov. Terry Branstad on plans Wednesday to announce a second round of Blue Zone demonstration sites aimed at aiding community-by-community well-being transformations.