Overview / Major Events
Even though there remains quite a bit of work to be done before the 2018 Session comes to a close, last Friday marked a key date in the upcoming election process as candidates wishing to show up on their respective primary election ballots needed to file nominating petitions with the Secretary of State’s office by 5:00 pm of that day.
In the race for Governor there are two Republicans who filed petitions (including incumbent Governor Kim Reynolds) and six Democrats (including current State Senator Nate Boulton). However, today is another key date in that if there are questions about the validity of any candidate’s petitions (each race has a minimum threshold requirement) any challenges must be filed by 5:00 pm today. Of note (and detailed below) a high profile challenge has been filed against the second Republican in the race for Governor.
House and Senate finish work on Deappropriations
This week House and Senate leaders (and presumably the Governor’s office) reached agreement on a final set of deappropriations in the FY18 budget to ensure the state’s budget limit law is honored when the books close on the current fiscal year. Despite an improving revenue picture (as told by the recent Revenue Estimating Conference) these cuts were approved to ensure a reasonable ending balance. Both Chambers passed the legislation this week and the bill will quickly move to the Governor’s desk for her signature. House and Senate leaders wanted to finalize the FY18 budget decisions now, so they can turn their complete attention to addressing the FY19 budget over the next few weeks (starting next week).
Proposed Constitutional Amendment on Right to Bear Arms moves forward
The House and Senate both acted this week to move forward a proposal to add an amendment to the Iowa Constitution to recognize as a fundamental right to keep and bear arms. HJR 2009 passed the House 54-42 and the Senate 34-15 this week and will now be referred over to the next General Assembly for continued review.
Amending Iowa’s constitution is no easy task. Proposed amendments must first be adopted by the House and Senate in one General Assembly and then adopted a second time (in the exact same form) in the next General Assembly. If this is accomplished, the measure is then submitted to the people for approval in a statewide election. HJR 2009 has passed the first step in this process.
Notable Retirements from the Iowa House and Senate
The March 16 filing deadline for candidates also signals which members of the House and Senate are NOT seeking reelection and will thus be retiring from their service in the General Assembly. In the Senate long-time Democrat Senators Bob Dvorsky, Wally Horn, and Matt McCoy are all retiring. These seats are Democrat strongholds. In the House prominent Republicans such as Dawn Pettengill, Chip Baltimore, and Dave Heaton are not seeking reelection. In this case, the seats are either Lean R or toss-ups.
Republican Activist Challenges Corbett Petitions
In a stunning development this week, prominent Republican blogger and activist Craig Robinson filed an official challenge to the petition signatures filed by would-be Republican gubernatorial candidate, Ron Corbett. Corbett is a former Iowa House Speaker and Cedar Rapids Mayor who sought to challenger Governor Reynolds in a primary this year. His campaign filed late on Friday (about 30 minutes before the deadline) and submitted signatures totaling 4,088.
The minimum threshold for a Republican candidate seeking nomination is 4,005. That put the Corbett petitions at only 83 above the minimum. Robinson reviewed the petitions and claims to have found over 100 duplicate signatures. If he is correct, Corbett will be short the necessary signatures and would then NOT be on the ballot in June. Governor Reynolds would then become the outright Republican nominee, now. A panel made up of the Secretary of State, State Auditor, and Attorney General will convene next week to review the challenge and issue a decision.