Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Vote

It's been a while since I got to watch a debate like I saw last night at the Iowa Statehouse. We didn't even find out until the afternoon that the smoking ban debate would actually happen. Ah, but when it began...

Waterloo Democratic Senator Bill Dotzler tried to get an amendment through that would exempt bars and taverns that serve only those only 21 and older. (His mom owns a bar back home). It was a close one. 24 senators went for it. Of course, it takes 26 to pass.
But the vote on the overall smoking ban was even more interesting. Debate didn't go on nearly as long as I figured. From start to finish, I think it lasted fewer than three hours. When voting began, the tally on the overhead board on the north side of the chamber rolled up to 26 votes. So the ban passed, right? Nope, one member took off a vote. I didn't get to see who that was. That took the vote back to 25 to 21. No decision yet. Some time passed. Senators and their staffs stood in the back of the chamber watching. And waiting. So did the lobbyists and the curious souls gathered in the balconies.

Who was holding out? A few Republicans: Sioux Center's Dave Mulder, West Des Moines' Pat Ward and Ankeny's Larry Noble. We watched Mulder study the board and then push his "yes button". That's 26 votes, if you're keeping score at home. The bill passed. Senators Ward and Noble soon followed with their "yes" votes. So did Grinnell Dennis Black....after he changed his previous "no" vote to "yes." 29 to 21 is your final score. Well, the final score until the House decides what it will do with it. House Democratic leaders say they'll likely not vote on this next week. They want to get a better read on what their members think about the Senate plan first.


I've been a big fan of Scott Spezio. He had some huge hits down the stretch as the St. Louis Cardinals made their World Series run in 2006. He has power, can pinch-hit, can play both corner outfield positions, 1st and 3rd base, fill in at 2nd base and can play stretches at a time in the starting lineup. Plus there's that Cardinal red soul patch that became all the rage in the stands at Busch Stadium. But apparently, he still can't seem to play sober. Or at least live sober. Disappointing.

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