Welcome back to another year of Legislative Goodness. I’m joined by intrepid reporter Graph Stacker and political analyst Ima Payfordthiss.
Anything unusual happen this week, or are lawmakers still deadlocked on school funding?
Graph: There was actually movement in the K-12 funding dispute, Lynda. A Democrat-controlled Senate committee approved a 4 percent increase in state aid. As you know, the Republican-controlled House already voted to give schools an extra 2 percent in state aid.
Ima: Yet splitting the difference doesn’t seem likely since the 3 percent average is above Gov. Terry Branstad’s proposed 2.45 percent increase.
Graph: No one wants another appearance by the infamous veto pen.
Is this another legislative session where school funding sucks up all the oxygen?
Graph: Well, we’ll have to wait and see what lawmakers bring to the floor, but we do have bills being introduced.
Ima: There’s a bill, introduced by Sen. Mark Chelgren, an Ottumwa Republican …
Chelgren is the one who announced a run for Congress?
Ima: Yes, he’s the one. Chelgren is reacting to a Rose Bowl performance by the band representing Stanford University.
Graph: The performance, which the band later indicated was some sort of online dating spoof of FarmersOnly.com, wasn’t well received by University of Iowa fans.
Ima: It wasn’t only Iowa fans, ESPN cut away from it.
The behavior was a first?
Graph: Oh, no. The band is known for its antics.
OK. Well, what exactly does the bill propose?
Graph: Iowa’s universities would be banned from cooperating with Stanford until officials there apologize for the band’s “unsporting behavior.”
Ima: Existing contracts could continue, but no new ones. The bill does allow sporting events to continue.
Graph: Chelgren believes there’s a history of bad band behavior that should be addressed by the university.
Chelgren wants the university held accountable for the actions of its students?
Ima: Yes — but instead of athletics or arts the bill targets things like academic research.
Graph: Unlike at Iowa, the Stanford band is student-led. And, before the Rose Bowl, the group was suspended from road trip games.
Ima: The band has been repeatedly disciplined for its actions, dating back to the 1970s. But the antics have also become an expected, if not celebrated, institution.
I thought this had all blown over, or was left on the field?
Ima: You’d think so. The band’s performance didn’t really resonate. It appeared mean-spirited instead of humorous in light of the scoreboard. Rose Bowl organizers and others spoke out against the performance and, even if Iowa didn’t claim the bowl trophy, they were awarded the higher ground. This bill, even if it performs as expected and remains stuck in committee, negates some of that.
Graph: Right. Chelgren’s bill takes the good will and turns it into a “holier-than-thou” statement. It’s adults stooping to the juvenile level of some college students.
That’s all for now. We hope you’ll join us next time when we cue the James Bond music for discussion on a proposal to arm snowmobilers.
This column by Lynda Waddington originally published in The Gazette on February 6, 2016. Photo credit: Adam Wesley/The Gazette