Even Governments Need Lobbyists

Posted in: Iowa City Owl Iowa City News - Local Stories
If there's one message that's clear from Johnson County Board of Supervisor's recent decision to join a coalition to hire lobbyists for the corridor region, it's that even state politicians are grossly out of touch with constituents. Worse off, the only constituents they can pay attention to, are those with the best lobbyists.

The Press-Citizen reported yesterday that Johnson, Black Hawk, and Linn counties are each going to contribute $10,000 a year for 2012 and $20,000 for 2013 to hire two Iowa lobbying firms to represent the counties' to the Iowa legislature and executive offices.

What that could mean is that more state money is directed to projects in Iowa City or Cedar Rapids. Lobbyists are people with the network, knowledge, and influence to try to convince representatives to agree with your point of view - and with thousands of dollars of state money every year going to special earmarked projects, it's clear how having the state legislature looking at your area when deciding where to spend.

But Johnson County, Black Hawk, and Linn have lobbyists already - they're called state representatives, who are elected by locals to represent them in the state legislature. But when it comes to issues like getting funding for an Iowa City/Chicago rail line, perhaps extra voices is what Iowa City needs.

However, statewide, the effects could be less desirable. A small town without the resources to hire a well-connected lobbying firm would miss out on more opportunities as lobbyists shove other cities' priorities to the forefront. While hiring a lobbyist might be the right move for the local area, the idea of lobbying the government to care about your interests is not one to be encouraged.
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