Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Justice Center, Drug War Not On Priority List

The drug war and larger justice system issues that helped scuttle the justice center last month are apparently not a "legislative priority" for the county.

Supervisors, elected officials and department heads held their annual meeting with state legislators yesterday and did not bring up issues such as marijuana legalization or the drinking age. The justice center, and the role of state and federal law and local law enforcement policy in the defeat, were never mentioned.

The focus was instead on admittedly critical fiscal issues of property tax reform proposals and mental health funding.

"Make (property tax reform) as harmless to us locally as possible," said Supervisor Terrence Neuzil. "In general we did support the senate's version"

"We want to target small main street businesses rather than out of state big boxes," Senator Joe Bolkcom said of the Democratic-led Senate's property tax plan. "If the legislature wants to give commercial property tax reform we outght to pay for it."

Supervisor Rod Sullivan said "there are some pretty potentially heartbreaking stories" of people whol could fall between the cracks of mental health funding reform.

"We want to see that people are taken care of," said Rep. Mary Mascher. "We're up against people who don't necessarily believe that," she said of the Republican-controlled House.

As for justice system issues, County attorney Janet Lyness focused mainly on the relationship between county attorney offices and the state Department of Human Services."We as elected representatived from the county are mandated to represent a state agency, and if we don't agree with what DHS wants to do there is a conflict of interest and we are jeopardizing our law licenses. County attorneys need to go into cases to represnet local interest, and we want to work with DHS but we should not be representing them." Lyness said statewide, there had been an average of about 20 such situations statewide in two decades.

If the county had brought up drug law reform, they had at least one sympathetic ear: Bolkcom has re-introduced a medical marijuana bill.

Other legislators on hand, all Democrats, were Senator Bob Dvorsky and Representatives Dave Jacoby and Vicki Lensing. Sally Stutsman, representative-elect, was also there but sat as a supervisor, the job she will hold until next month.

The two Republican legislators, Senator Sandy Greiner and Rep.-Elect Bobby Kaufmann, were absent. Board staff said the two had been invited.

1 comment:

Adam B Sullivan said...

For what it's worth, Greiner's district is geographically bigger than the others in the local delegation. Home to downtown Iowa City is 10 minutes for the other local lawmakers (except Kaufmann), at least an hour for Greiner.