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Gromotka: Focus on Iowa politics

BY ADAM GROMOTKA | JANUARY 28, 2014 5:00 AM

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There’s a legal battle raging in Texas about pregnancy and life support. Recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado. Utah is still discussing the matter, but it recently made a giant step toward recognizing same-sex marriage. While politicians in D.C. bicker and read each other Dr. Seuss to keep things from happening, the states remain busy.

Yes, our federal lawmaking institutions have been reduced to a revolting stew of bipartisan gunk and corporate interests. Our national body politic is nearly paralyzed, and many analysts agree that it hasn’t really achieved a whole lot in recent years beyond narrowly extending our national credit limit a few times.

The battle to effect political change, it seems, will have to be fought at the state level. With that being said, Iowans will elect a new state House of Representatives, half of its state Senate, and its governor this year and, while it may seem a bit premature, it’s not too early to put those contests on your radar, start doing your homework, and persuade yourself to vote. Politics matters more when it’s closer to home.

To give you a better idea of the influence of government closer to home, a very brief recent history lesson about Iowa is in order. Despite my youth, I’ve been politically conscious enough over the past few years to witness Iowa recognize the sanctity of same-sex marriage. I’ve seen our government respond to a terrible drought and the effect it had on our farmers. More recently and especially close to home, the state granted a tuition freeze for resident undergraduates. And these points only brush the surface. The state looks at issues ranging from abortion to gun control to food stamps. It has a central influence on business and agriculture and education. Needless to say, state government is important.

Candidates for state and federal offices begin signing up Feb. 24, and those for county offices start their paperwork on March 3. So we’ll soon have an idea of our options. Younger students with Iowa citizenship should consider following along because they’ll experience elected leadership for much of their college career in the state. It’s a decision that will not only affect their lives but also the lives of their friends, even out-of-staters here for an education.

Considering the relative health of Iowa’s economy, many graduates who land a job locally may have a longer-term stake in Iowa politics as well.

Students visiting from other states can also register to vote in Iowa, but the decision comes with some concerns that should be well-researched in advance.

Regardless, wherever we end up after school, we’re all here for now, so it’s important to play a role in the government we elect on the fourth of November.

As the electoral process unfolds this year, make a list of whom you want to vote for and why. A little Internet research into the legislative and gubernatorial candidates is all it takes. I’m not telling you who to vote for — at this especially early stage, you probably can’t make more than a guess of who that will be, anyway — I’m simply asking you to notice state politics this year.

What we see of Capitol Hill on the evening news often looks more like a reality TV show than a reasoned debate about the country’s future — we would be wise to focus instead on the comparatively sane world of Iowa.


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