One of Iowa’s newest legislators said in IowaWatch’s weekend radio report that administrative bureaucracy and lobbyists have too much power at the Statehouse in Des Moines.
“It’s actually worse than I thought,” state Rep. Jon Jacobsen, R-Council Bluffs, said in an interview for the IowaWatch Connection radio program that airs on 20 radio stations. Jacobson join the Legislature after a special election on June 27, 2017, to fill a seat vacated by the death of former Rep. Greg Forristall, R-Macedonia, who died of cancer May 10, 2017.
Republicans control both the Iowa Senate and Iowa House.
“I came in as a reform-minded person and it’s just appalling to me,” Jacobsen said. “You know, the (Statehouse) dome is golden but under the gold there is a lot of mold. There still is a lack of common effort for the common good. This place doesn’t need any more lobbyists and lawyers. It needs an exorcist, frankly.”
Everything in the Legislature, he said, does not have to be adversarial. “I think people need to find a little more lightness of being, and a little more joy and a little more humor.”
State Sen. Bill Dotzler, D-Waterloo, said in the same radio program the Statehouse has gotten more partisan since he joined, first as a state representative in 1997. He joined the Senate in 2003.
“When I first got elected, I thought House Republicans were, like, the evil empire. But I found out that they were willing to work with the minority party very fast,” Dotzler said.
“Now, today, in the Senate side, Sen. Dix was very partisan on his ideas,” he said, referring to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, of Shell Rock, who resigned when a video showing him kissing a lobbyist at a Des Moines bar was published by the Democratic news website, Iowa Starting Line. “If you had a bill, a Democrat, you know, put up for consideration it got killed. And he even, really had a really tight control on his caucus.”
Dix said he sees positive change with Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, assuming the role as senate majority leader in the wake of Dix’s resignation.
“Changes like this give you a chance to step back and reflect on where you’re going and maybe make an adjustment,” Dotzler said.
Lyle Muller, of IowaWatch, contributed to writing this story, with reporting from Jeff Stein interviews.