legislators

State Rep. Dustin Hite responds to a question about judicial appointments as state Sen. Ken Rozenboom and state Rep. Holly Brink listen.

OSKALOOSA — Recycling, judicial appointments and access to legislative meetings were among concerns that nearly 100 people brewed up Saturday during a listening session with local legislators. State Sen. Ken Rozenboom and Reps. Dustin Hite and Holly Brink responded to constituents who slid into Smokey Row Coffee Co. for an Eggs and Issues forum on another snowy morning.

Hite fielded questions about proposed changes to how judges are appointed. A lawyer himself, Hite has helped select judges. The process involves panels of eight lawyers, eight people appointed by the governor, and a current judge. The tipping of the scales by that ninth legal mind concerned some in the crowd.

“I’m open to making the process better,” Hite said. “Somebody’s gonna have to convince me quite a bit before I think there’s a problem with where we’re at.”

Attorneys help the process because they know colleagues being recommended to the governor, he said.

Liz Colton of Oskaloosa challenged Rozenboom about a recent move by Senate Republicans to no longer require 24-hour notice on subcommittee meetings. Those meetings allow citizens to comment on bills, and short notice might mean that advocates can’t get to Des Moines in time to be heard.

Rozenboom, a Republican who chairs the Senate’s Natural Resources and Environment Committee, said abiding by a strict 24-hour practice could hamstring his efforts.

“It’s a tempest in a teapot,” Rozenboom said. “Up there in Des Moines, the majority party controls the agenda, the minority party controls the clock. Any way to throw a wrench into the system is used.”

Colton, a Democrat, said later that Rozenboom’s response disappointed her.

“I wish he had been more concerned about the public,” she said.”I want to make sure that those of us in the minority have the opportunity to express our opinion.”

Kyle Brown questioned Rozenboom about proposed changes to the Iowa’s recycling laws. Rozenboom said he favors legislation that would add a second penny to the cost distributors pay to redemption centers and grocery stores for handling bottles and cans. The new bill would allow grocers to opt out of the process, but that extra penny could mean more redemption centers, Rozenboom said.

Brown said Iowa must address growing concerns about water bottles and other plastic containers. He urged Rozenboom and Brink to reach out to scientists for answers about efficient plastic recycling.

Failing to find a solution to plastics could cost Iowa greatly, Brown said. He expressed concern about his 10-year-old son and the world they’ll both grow old in.

“I prefer that it be a nicer place where we don’t have garbage sitting everywhere, we don’t have plastics filling up landfills. The oceans alone have a terrible, terrible problem with this,” Brown said after the forum. “To just ignore it and not look into it is sticking your head in the sand.”

Pat Finan is the editor of the Journal-Express. He can be reached at 641-295-0624 or editor@pellachronicle.com

Editor