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Capitol Highlights

April 11, 2014
By Rep. Tedd Gassman - Representing Iowa House District 7 , Estherville News

The Iowa House passed a resolution calling for a repeal of a California law that forbids the sale of eggs produced by hens kept in cages that don't meet certain size and space requirements. Representative Helen Miller and Pat Grassley were cosponsors of that resolution. The current California law would go into effect in 2015. The California law requires egg laying hens to be in pens with enough space so the animal can stand up, turn around, lie down, and fully extend their limbs. Most of the eggs produced in Iowa could no longer be sold in California. According to Grassley and Miller the resolution unconstitutionally infringes upon the commerce clause of the Constitution of the United States. That would be a detriment to this nation's consumers and farmers.

Iowa is the nation's number one egg producing state. In 2013, 15 billion eggs were produced in the state and, according to the Iowa Egg Council that means almost one out of every five eggs produced in the U.S. last year came from Iowa. The methods used by Iowa's egg producers are wide-spread throughout the United States. "The effect of California's legislation is to increase consumer prices, create financial hardship on low-income families and deny egg farmers the right to access the nation's market," Grassley said, reading from the resolution.

Iowa is one of a handful of states that have sued to try to get federal courts to declare the California law unconstitutional. The resolution that passed the Iowa House Thursday April 3rd calls congress to act on the issue as well. This resolution was a bipartisan effort by Helen Miller, a Democrat from Fort Dodge and Pat Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford.

For the last couple of weeks oversight committees have been working overtime. A couple of weeks ago it was found that some past state employees were released of their duties at the beginning of the Branstad administration. Some would believe that there may be some favoritism involved in who would be a part of that new team. Some of those dismissals were done in a secretive way and the Governor is being blamed for some that were given severance pay. He denies knowing about those agreements.

We have spent an inordinate amount of time as a legislative body working through this. Some want to exploit a situation that has happened many times in the past. The house passed legislation that will correct some of the flaws in how that new team will be chosen.

It defines "personal settlement agreement", the law makes clear that personal settlement agreements shall not contain any confidentiality of nondisclosure provision that attempts to prevent the disclosure of personal settlement agreements. It makes an open record to the public of the fact that a public employee "resigned in lieu of termination" or was demoted. Finally, it would require personnel settlement agreements to be posted on the Internet.

I am proud of the way the House has responded to this issue. Until this news broke a couple of weeks ago, I don't believe anyone here in the House knew that these agreements existed. It's not that they are not necessary, but if exercised the public has the right to know. This bill, if signed by the Governor, will assure this.

I encourage anyone to contact me with questions, concerns, and new ideas on how we can improve Iowa even though the 2014 session is coming to an end. It is an honor to be your Representative, and I will continue working hard for all of you and for the great state of Iowa.



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