DES MOINES | Iowa senators agreed Wednesday to confirm a number of Gov. Terry Branstad’s top administrators and some appointments to key state boards and commissions.
The Senate -- made up of 26 Democrats and 24 Republicans -- approved the governor’s selections of Mary Andringa (47-0), Sherry Bates (44-3) and Patricia Cownie (46-1) for six-year terms to the state Board of Regents that begin May 1.
Senators also vote 48-0 to approve the appointment of Rachael Johnson, a Sioux City freshman at the University of Northern Iowa, to serve as the student representative on the regents’ panel that oversees UNI, the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and two special schools for blind and deaf students.
Senators also voted 46-0 to confirm Branstad’s choice of Jerry Bartruff to direct operations at the state Department of Corrections and Roxann Ryan to be commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety for the next four years. Bartruff replaced retiring DOC Director John Baldwin and Ryan takes over for retiring DPS Commissioner Larry Noble.
Other reappointments to the Branstad administration included Debi Durham as head of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (46-0), Donna Harvey as director of the state Department on Aging (46-0), Rod Roberts as director of the state Department of Inspections & Appeals (46-0), Gerd Clabaugh as director of the state Department of Public Health (47-0) and David Jamison as executive director of the Iowa Finance Authority (46-0).
The Senate also agreed 45-2 to reconfirm Kristine Kramer as a member of the state Racing and Gaming Commission, former state legislator Stewart Iverson as chairman of the Property Assessment/Appeals Board (45-1) and Sandra Page as a member of the Iowa Commission for the Blind (45-1).
Gubernatorial nominees must garner a two-thirds majority, or at least 34 affirmative votes, to be confirmed by the Senate.
In other action, senators voted 48-0 to send Branstad a bill (Senate File 462) that would allow school personnel and volunteers to use epinephrine auto-injectors, commonly known as EpiPens, when they believe a student is experiencing anaphylaxis -- a severe allergic reaction that can cut off a person’s breath.
Under current law, Iowa schools are only allowed to administer the medicine to students who already have a prescription.
SF 462 makes stocking the EpiPens voluntary rather than mandatory, which some school officials saw as an unfunded mandate.
Also Wednesday, senators voted 48-0 to approve an amended version of House File 449, a bill which directs the state Department of Human Services to spend up to $200,000 in fiscal 2016 to develop and implement an inpatient psychiatric bed tracking system.
Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, noted similar language was approved last session as part of a budget bill but it was vetoed by the governor. The bill returns to the House for further consideration.