Saturday, March 25, 2006

Inoculation 2006

Sometimes I notice things that happen. Like this week, the Senate Democrats passed through funnel two bills they’ve been resisting, a bill to restrict eminent domain and a bill to track prescription drugs. Not sure what to make of it, I guess the political change reflects new polling data suggesting their target voters wanted the use of eminent domain restricted and want to see doctor-shopping & pill-popping druggies locked up a little faster.

The versions that came out of the Senate committees are amended versions of the House bills; they’ve been worked over to make them slightly more acceptable to Democratic Senators. To make these bills go Gronstal may have given a pep talk in caucus that sounded something like this…

“We’re swallowing a couple pills to get what we want – the Senate majority. We vote to move these bills and we neutralize their political usefulness. Nobody will have to worry about the card with the picture of a frazzled hippie drug seeker on the front and a ‘Senator Stewart wants to make it easy for this guy to get his next fix’ on the back. Or the card with a grandma standing in front of her home watching well dressed developers in hard hats tear it down with a ‘Senator Beall believes economic development happens when we tear down grandma’s house’. Nope. We’re going to let these issues slide for the greater good.”

I wonder if the GOP types (I make it sound like Republicans' have a certain kind of blood -- and no it’s not cold) have poll tested some of their no-go positions on issues like car title loans, anti-bullying mandate and tobacco taxes. Realistically, neither side wants to vote for a tax increase knowing that tobacco using voters will figure out they’d been sucker punched just about the time we start absentee & satellite voting this fall. The car title loans, not sure it’ll amount to much of an issue for the Democrats, but I can think of at least one mailer -- A bedraggled woman and three kids with the tag line ‘They just lost their Iowa home, a 1989 Pontiac Grand Am, to a multi-millionaire in Georgia’. As for the anti-bullying mandate, the GOP can probably dust that off with a local control argument, but if that local control talk rings hollow. Perhaps we’ll see a direct mail piece with a picture of my ten year old and a tag line ‘Rep De Boef doesn’t mind that Sam spends his days at school working on reading, writing, arithmetic and hiding out from bullies.’

I assume that before the end of session every conceivable problem issue on either side will be poll tested, focus grouped and inoculated with strategic votes on legislative bills & amendments in the attempt to end run election year politics.

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