Senate considers gubernatorial appointments

March 26, 2015

Each year the Iowa Senate considers hundreds of names appointed by the Governor to state boards and commissions. The Senate votes for most of the appointments “en bloc” - meaning in a single group. However, some appointees receive additional scrutiny and questioning by members of the Senate. 

This week, the Senate Labor Committee questioned Joe Cortese who was nominated by Gov. Terry Branstad to be the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. Labor Committee Chairman Sen. Tony Bisignano (D-Des Moines) asked several questions about Mr. Cortese’s view of the position and his ability to make independent decisions. Bisignano also mentioned ABI in his comments, emphasizing his view that the organization should not have an undue influence on the position. Senators Bill Dotzler (D-Waterloo) and Chris Brase (D-Muscatine) also asked questions about the position. At the end of the meeting, Bisignano made a comment related to Cortese’s campaign contributions but concluded that at this point he did not see any blockages to his confirmation. On Wednesday, the Senate Labor Committee voted to move Cortese forward to the full Senate as an individual appointment. 

On Monday, the Senate Education Committee questioned appointees to the Board of Regents. Among them was Mary Andringa, CEO of ABI member company Vermeer. The committee will vote on whether to move her and the other appointees, Patricia Cownie and Student Regent Appointee Rachael Johnson, to the full Senate for individual appointment. 

On Tuesday, current Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham and Cultural Affairs Director Mary Cownie were introduced on the Senate floor. Also on Tuesday, the Iowa Senate unanimously confirmed Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend. On Wednesday, the Senate Economic Growth Committee unanimously voted to move forward with Durham as an individual appointment to the full Senate. 

Wednesday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee questioned Director of Revenue Courtney Kay-Decker. Kay-Decker received several questions about the current operations of the Department and staff turnover. The committee approved Kay-Decker’s appointment on Thursday and it will now be considered by the full Senate.