I am cautiously optimistic that we have reached the time of snow-melts, greening lawns, and robins moving back. We set our clocks ahead, so now we are again heading to work in the dark, but it is nice to have a little evening light.|I am cautiously optimistic that we have reached the time of snow-melts, greening lawns, and robins moving back. We set our clocks ahead, so now we are again heading to work in the dark, but it is nice to have a little evening light.
On Friday, the House conducted its third day of debate on House File 525 which contains very targeted changes to Iowa’s collective bargaining law. I have discussed this bill over the past few weeks. As you may recall, this bill makes changes that restore the balance of scope of negotiation and considerations in arbitration.
The discussion over collective bargaining in Iowa is not the same as the dialogue that is going on in other states such as Wisconsin or Indiana. Instead, we’re taking a slow, thoughtful approach to updates to Iowa’s “Chapter 20” law. After an open subcommittee process, a 14 hour Labor committee discussion and a two hour public hearing, we finally brought the bill up for debate on Wednesday.
Over 100 amendments were filed to the bill; many of them intended to slow down debate. After listening to Iowans’ concerns over removing health care from the scope of bargaining, House Republicans added an amendment that put health care back into the scope but stated that all public employees must pay a minimum of $100 per month of the total premium for a group health insurance plan. This measure will save Iowa taxpayers $33 million dollars a year.
On Friday, it was concluded that three days of debate on the bill was sufficient. We ensured that Iowans were able to weigh in on the bill and that it got a thorough debate on the House floor. With that in mind, debate was concluded at noon and we passed the bill. It is our hope that the Senate will take a serious look at HF 525 and work to find ways to reduce the size and cost of government.
In addition to floor action, the House also spent time working on the state budget. House committees began passing budget bills out of subcommittees and the full Appropriations committee. Our budget is smaller, smarter and gives Iowa taxpayers a seat at the table.
We intend to spend $347 million less than the current 2011 budget. Our budget contains less spending than the Governor or Senate Democrats. We are committed to passing a responsible budget that does not spend more than we take in yet provides for priority services in the areas of education, health and human services, and public safety.
The Senate has been at work too and sent us a stack of bills to consider. A few bills that have been sent to us from the Senate are: Senate File 291 which deals with medical records, Senate File 321 regarding wastewater on farm operations and Senate File 361 allowing the State Fair to set up an endowment. The House will spend the next couple weeks working through these Senate files which have to be out of House committees by the second funnel date, April 1st.
Thank you to those of you who have visited with me at local forums. I appreciate spending time with you and visiting about issues important to North Iowa. I also appreciate visitors who stop by and say hello in Des Moines. If you are going to be in the area and would like a tour of the Capitol, please contact my office to help arrange ñ (515) 281-4618 or firstname.lastname@example.org