A very important duty of the Iowa Senate is to confirm the Governor’s appointments to the various boards and commissions. There are dozens of boards and commissions that make up state government ranging from the Iowa Department of Human Service board to the Iowa Board of Regents to the Law Enforcement Academy Board. These boards help state government function and provide the citizens of Iowa the opportunity to be involved with governing the state. Most of the boards are required to have gender balance and political party balance.
Once the Governor makes a nomination, the Iowa Senate must confirm the appointment by a two-thirds majority, or 34 out of 50 Senators. Most of the nominees are confirmed, often with unanimous votes. However, every year a few of the nominees are not confirmed.
This year, there has been some controversy with Governor Terry Branstad’s nominees to the Iowa Board of Regents. Governor Branstad appointed three new members to the board, two Republicans and one Independent. The Republicans have both been heavily criticized, I believe unfairly.
Craig Lang, who is the current President of the Iowa Board of Regents and was originally appointed by Governor Culver is one of those who has been criticized for many things. I met with Mr. Lang and found him to be a very good listener, good leader and a good President. He has championed many difficult decisions that have improved the state universities. All but one of these decisions passed with a unanimous vote on the board, showing his ability to bring people together.
Robert Cramer, who is a construction business owner from Johnston, is a new appointee. He has also been heavily criticized by the Democrats in the Iowa Senate, mostly for his religious and political beliefs. I believe that Mr. Cramer is a perfect fit for the Board of Regents, as the Regents are considering building over $1 billion worth of buildings over the next five years. Having an experienced construction executive on the board would be a tremendous asset to the Regents. In addition, Mr. Cramer is a great businessman and quality person.
Opposing Mr. Cramer for his political and religious beliefs is wrong and unconstitutional. Section 4 of the Iowa Bill of Rights states that “No religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office, or public trust, and no person shall be deprived of any of his rights, privileges, or capacities, or disqualified from the performance of any of his public or private duties…in consequence of his opinions on the subject of religion.” The only opposition I have heard regarding Mr. Cramer is regarding his religious beliefs.
Both of these men are qualified for the position. I support the confirmation of Mr. Cramer, Mr. Lang and the third nominee Dr. Subhash Subhai. I am hopeful the full Iowa Senate will confirm all three nominees as soon as possible.