The following is a legislative update from Democratic Rep. Sharon Steckman, representing the middle-third of Cerro Gordo county in the Iowa Legislature:
We have debated quite a few bills this week, most of which were non-controversial. Some were budget bills – which fund various departments and always need more money than they get. As with our own personal budgets, it is a matter of setting priorities and there are always divergent views.
A bill was passed out of committee this week that threatens the future of IPERS and the retirement security of police officers, firefighters and other law enforcement officials. What the bill proposes is a change in the way local governments fund their retirement accounts. Instead of using a fund that is set up exclusively for retirement security, city and county governments would be forced to make retirement payments out of the fund that pays for the basic services like police and fire services, libraries, trails, etc.
In addition, the bill puts a limit on the amount local officials can raise for the fund that pays for these basic services, regardless of the needs of the individual communities. By limiting the amount collected into the fund and requiring more expenses to come out of it, the bill (HSB165) forces local officials to choose between providing basic services or protecting the retirement of the workers providing those basic services.
So far there is enough opposition on this bill to keep it from reaching the floor for debate. That could change and I will be watching it closely.
I checked and every interested Iowa group has registered as being against this bill. The only groups registered as being for its passage are the Taxpayers Association and Americans for Prosperity, a national PAC. I really wonder why it is still alive.
This week we passed the Agriculture and Natural Resources budget bill. I offered an amendment to appropriate $25,000 for the purpose of directing the DNR to review the 16 year- old Master Matrix and report their review to the legislature. It was defeated on a bi-partisan vote.
With only two weeks to go before the end date of May 3rd, the Iowa Legislature needs to finish budget business; do whatever we can to help average Iowans and leave the bad ideas in the “dustbin of history”.
Saturday, April 27
Mason City Public Library