Two Republicans nearly come to blows

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Fight over Values Fund gets heated

Associated Press

DES MOINES -- A disagreement over how to fund the state's premier economic development package brought two Republican lawmakers nearly to blows last week at the Iowa Capitol.

Rep. Jamie Van Fossen, R-Davenport, and Rep. Paul Wilderdyke, R-Woodbine, butted chests and exchanged words over how the money should be appropriated to the fund.

Van Fossen could be heard shouting behind House chambers that Wilderdyke accused him of being "bought and paid for" after Van Fossen called for a record vote on the economic development budget that appropriated funding for the Iowa Values Fund. Other lawmakers and House staff held Van Fossen back as he shouted after Wilderdyke.


Van Fossen and Wilderdyke said they shook hands and made up after the incident.

Raise is on the way

State lawmakers would get a hefty increase starting in 2007, the first in nearly a decade.

House and Senate members would see their salaries increase 16.9 percent from $21,381 to $25,000. The House speaker, Senate president and majority and minority party leaders in each chamber would each get a 13.7 percent increase, boosting their salaries to $37,500.

Rep. Bill Dix, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, took issue with the increase for lawmakers. He also complained about the $38.5 million that was negotiated under the state's Collective Bargaining Agreement for state employee salaries.

"My perspective is that legislators are paid a sufficient amount and state workers are seeing increases at a rate that is well above those that we are seeing in the private sector. It is a rising cost of government and I remain opposed to those efforts," Dix said.

Thinning the herd

The Legislature has approved a measure designed to reduce the state's deer population.


The Senate approved the measure last week on a 50-0 vote. The House followed suit within hours, sending the measure to Gov. Tom Vilsack.

The issue of reducing the deer population had divided the Legislature.

Insurance industry officials told lawmakers that damages caused when cars and trucks collide with deer cost millions of dollars each year, with more than a few motorists being killed in those crashes.

Farmers complain that the deer population is so large that they lose money from deer eating their crops. Even some urban residents complain about damage the animals do to landscaping.

Under the measure, state officials are empowered to survey the deer population and increase the number of hunting licenses issued in areas of the state where the deer population is heaviest.

In addition, the number of female deer that could be taken would be sharply increased.

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