A Day in the Life of a Legislator…

First up was a non-event public hearing on “smart planning”.  One would think the people who requested a public hearing could get more people than 3, yes THREE, out to support their case against the bill.  Really, it was embarrassing for them.  Television was there.  Big gun reporters.  And a no show by their opponents.  The public hearing was a total of 11 minutes and we still don’t know why they are against the bill to repeal those principles, aka the city planners job description, that’s in the code.  They lose nothing and can still do smart planning if they want to without it being law, so what’s the beef?.  Kudos to the Committee Chair Jason Schultz for running a good public hearing!


There was lots in between then and now…people from home who were responsible for me eating enough sugar for a week, a number of bills debated, Government Oversight where we heard about pre-need contracts for funerals and cemeteries, caucus twice and I was in the middle of a verbal volley between attorneys on educational setting and rebuttable presumptions.


Here comes Rep. Walt Rogers, one of our assistant leaders, checking the temp.  He says “This could be a reality show and we wouldn’t even have to make anything up.”  TRUE.


As usual, wins – losses – smiles – eyerolls – fighting for your people and things you believe in.  All in a day’s work and I’m proud to do it!


13 hours in, so headed out…stay classy.



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Lifestyles of the Not Rich and the Infamous – Toasters

In 1976, I purchased a toaster all toasters should aspire to.  Little did I know that the garage sale, Proctor-Silex, 2-slot, REAL CHROME toaster I’d rescued from the fate of becoming a Salvation Army toaster or worse, falling into the hands of a ‘no regulations’ landfill, would last another 37 years.  You put your bread in and before you could get your cereal ready, the toast popped out perfectly.  It had the light to dark sliding bar and the bar to push up and down – self explanatory.


Over those years, that toaster held it’s own through all the trends – poptarts, toaster strudels, 4 slots, raisin breads, white bread, 4 slots, wheat bread, triple-diple wheat, 4 slots, whole grains, gluten frees and more 4 slots.  And then along came the bagel.  Being an appreciative person and not wanting to give up this long standing trustworthy appliance, for a loooong time I cut the bagel into fourths to make it into the standard size slot.  Perfection every time.


Loyalty is quirky.  After awhile, as I’m slicing the bagels, I began dreaming of a newer model toaster, one with the expandable slots.  Thinking of the time savings, not to mention the safety concerns with me and a knife, I even started looking online for what my options were and facebooking my love for the old Proctor-Silex and joking about the drawdown of electricity it has being that old.  No energy star there!  All the while, I’m impassively thinking it will have to go to toaster heaven sooner than later.


Like most things when you lose appreciation and thankfulness, you lose out.  In the case of the toaster, at the end of 2012, it caught on fire.  Since it was so reliable and toasted quickly, I was right there when it happened and there were no casualties or collateral damage.  The toaster even went out a class act.  When I lovingly put it in the trash, it occurred to me that the toaster I’d rescued 37 years ago had outlasted two children, a husband, 6 cars, 5 homes, hair, teeth, taut muscles…many things.  In fact, other than a sweater from 8th grade, it had outlasted everything and everybody and here I’d been shopping for a new one.  Sigh, I need to be a better person.


Meanwhile, back in my kitchen…This morning, feeling accomplished, I pull out my new stainless steel, expandable toaster slots, digital buttons that I don’t know what they mean because they have symbols instead of words, not Proctor Silex, twice the size and not a 4 slot (it still almost needs it’s own cabinet) toaster.


All week I’ve been on almost zero carbs and cannot wait for the Saturday morning treat of Pepperidge Farm Swirl toast with butter, Raisin Bran cereal and orange juice with lots of pulp.  I put the skinny pieces of Swirl bread in and watch the expandable frame cradle the bread, push the handle down and begin making my cereal.  Still no toast popping up after the cereal.  Remembering the fire, I look in it and the thing is on, but the heating elements aren’t bright red like my old one.  Maybe it’s the energy star thing?  After pouring a glass of orange juice and still no toast, I hit one of the buttons and the toast popped up, not toasted but a stale feeling on the outside.  THREE tries later, I have toast.


The moral of the story:  Be grateful for those you can count on, or soon you will have the opposite?  You may not have everything you want, but if you have what dims the lights when you turn it on, keep loving it?  The toast isn’t always browner over the toast hill?


So many morals to this story and so little time…

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It Dawn’d on Me! blogging

Well friends of this blog, my apologies for not posting sooner. My divorce was in November of 2009 and I’m afraid I didn’t find anything funny for a long time. My sense of humor is back now and I will be turning over a new leaf for you. As events happen for this legislator, you will be the 2nd to know.


Below is my newsletter for March 15, 2013:

In the Statehouse
March15, 2013

Who doesn’t want a bigger tax refund?

This week we debated a bill that allows you to have another choice when you file your taxes. Right now you can pick which way you get the biggest tax refund by filing “Married Filing Jointly” or “Married Filing Separately”. If our bill goes through the Senate, you will be able to pick “Filing at 4.5% Flat Tax” or “Filing a Standard Return” to see which gives you the most money back.

In Iowa, there are 9 tax brackets:
• $0 – $1,494 zero % tax rate
• $1,494 – $2,988 0.72% tax rate
• $2,928 – $5,976 2.43% tax rate
• $5,976 – $13,446 4.5% tax rate
• $13,446 – $22,410 6.12% tax rate
• $22,410 – $29,880 6.48% tax rate
• $29,880 – $44,820 6.80% tax rate
• $44,820 – $67,230 7.92% tax rate
• $67,230 or more 8.98% tax rate

As you can see, anyone with a taxable income over $13,446 a year could have a bigger refund based on the 4.5% flat tax. But if you have more deductions and will benefit from the way we do it now, you can still do it that way. There are no losers, only winners.

The Iowa Department of Revenue calculated that there will be at least 490,359 filers who will be winners and benefit from this change. We are hoping it gets through the Senate so you will be able to keep more of your money.

After the first funnel, when all bills are to be out of a House Committee or they are dead for the year, we begin debating everything we’ve worked on that made it out. If you are diligent during committee time and prep your bills for debate, you will have more time now. I was hoping I was in that situation. I had worked with both parties and all of the stakeholders to have good solutions during committee, my notes were organized, comments prepared and you would think that’s what happened, but on the day I was to debate the Insurance Omnibus (everything from securities changes to pre-purchased funeral contracts) at 2:00, at 10:55 the Trial Lawyers brought a concern. That concern took me to my subcommittee members several times, the Majority Leader’s office, two different buildings, the Governor’s office, the Senate, and multiple experts within the 3 hour window before debate. When I sat down at 2:00, I was ready and luckily the Democrats agreed with the solution and the bill passed unanimously. Phew! The wheels can fall off the bus in a minute around here.

Speaking of wheels and busses, I was so worried when I heard about the Vinton/Shellsburg bus sinking into the road in Shellsburg. Thank goodness no one was hurt!

Tomorrow my Constituent Advisory Committee is meeting and then on the 23rd, Senator Kapucian and I will be at Luzerne City Hall at 10:30. Luzerne always does it up right for us and we hope to see you there!

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at 515-281-3221 or dawn.pettengill@legis.iowa.gov. I’m here for you.

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Grandma and ElainaFinally at the age of 54, I’m a grandma.  Your whole life opens up with new possibilities when a baby comes into your life.  God bless you little Elaina and your Mommy and Daddy.


My heart is full of love and hope today.  Thank you God.


Now, Trixie and I are going on a road trip.  There will be pictures to go along with this one!

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