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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Statehouse Almanac

Thursday, April 10, 2008

As the fallout from the rush to change Iowa's 34 year old law on collective bargaining continues, Iowans are seeing the bill for what it is; political payback to the unions. The only hope that the taxpayers of Iowa have is for the Governor to veto this bill.

According to a nonprofit group based in Pennsylvania, HF 2645 would give the public employee union bosses in Iowa more power than anywhere else in the country. While the spin machine is telling Iowans this is just like many surrounding states the other half of the story is needed. Yes, 27 other states have what is called "open scope negotiations", but what they fail to mention is that no other state has binding arbitration with no recourse in the judicial system.

The taxpayers of Iowa will also feel the devastating effects of this legislation. Of the 25 states with the highest per capita property taxes, 19 of them have open scope negotiations. This means that 76% of the 25 highest property tax states removed power from their local elected officials to give an unelected bureaucrat power over taxes. Iowans already pay more than they should in property taxes.

Many Iowans are still hopeful that Governor Culver will listen and veto this bill to protect our students and your pocketbook.

The Senate Appropriations Committee continued the debate over Iowa's open meetings law this week. Iowans expect their governments and leaders to throw back the curtains of darkness to ensure a fair and balanced debate. The days of smoke-filled rooms packed with special interest groups should be a relic of the past along with spittoons on the floor of the Iowa Senate.

During debate in Committee, numerous amendments were offered that would open up the legislative process. All of these amendments were voted down by the majority party, with the sponsor of the legislation even stating that "too much sunshine could cause cancer".

The first amendment would have allowed the taxpayers of this state to attend meetings between local elected officials and union bosses. The rewrite of Iowa's collective bargaining law has now set the table for higher taxes for everyone. This dramatic change of Iowa's collective bargaining laws stripped the citizens' rights of representation at the bargaining table. By allowing the citizens to attend these meetings, the taxpayers of Iowa would have an opportunity to voice their concerns.

The remainder of the amendments offered focused attention on the glaring exemption from the law, the Iowa Legislature. Currently, the legislature is exempt from the open meetings and open record laws that were written nearly two decades ago.

Public officials should always strive to set an example for the rest of Iowans. The legislature, for the good of all Iowans, should be pressing for more openness from government bodies. The next step for the bill is the floor of the Iowa Senate. While the timing of the debate is not yet known, I will continue to work for open government.

On Saturday, April 12 there will be a Forum at the Kuemper High School cafeteria at 10:00 a.m. You may contact me via email steve.kettering@legis.state.ia.us or by calling the Senate switchboard at 515/281-3371. My postal address is State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319. When I am home you may reach me at work 712/657-8525 or talk to my home answering machine at 712/657-3347.

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