Legislators Address Collective Bargaining And Reapportionment At Saturday’s Town Hall Meeting
The issues of collective bargaining and reapportionment were addressed at the second of a trio of Town Hall meetings to be held in Emmetsburg this year.
Iowa Senate President Jack Kibbie and State Representative John Wittneben fielded questions from a small group that gathered Saturday morning at the Welcome Center in Emmetsburg. The Town Hall meeting was co-hosted by Palo Alto County Farm Bureau and Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce.
Representative Wittneben opened the meeting, discussing funnel week at the Legislature. He explained that any bill that did not get out of committee is pretty much dead for the year.
“There are always exceptions to that and one of them is anything that has to do with taxation,” Wittneben explained.
Wittneben said there was debate on collective bargaining last week.
“There were a lot of very good speakers four that spoke for the bill to take away some of the rights now guaranteed to state workers and public workers in collective bargaining,” he said. “There were 57 that spoke against the bill and quite a line still waiting to speak when time was called.”
He pointed out that most of the week focused on collective bargaining.
“There were 106 amendments on the bill,” he said. “We got to about number 18 and the majority party called time certain. Basically the majority party is allowed to do that. We kind of figured it would happen sooner or later.”
He also noted that amendments had to be germane to the bill.
“All amendments were germane, yet they still called time certain and gave us three more hours to debate,” Wittneben said. “We didn’t even get through the amendment we were still on that was the 18th amendment and there were still 16 more people that wanted to speak on that amendment. From that point on, each amendment was voted either up or down.
“About 30 hours of debate got through 18 amendments and I’m sad to say the bill passed. Everybody understood it’s not going anywhere in the Senate,” said Wittneben. “I feel like we spent three days wasting taxpayers’ dollars.”
Senator Jack Kibbie addressed the issue of reapportionment.
“Reapportionment is a real issue this year – redrawing all the legislative district lines and the new congressional lines, which will be reduced from five to four,” said Kibbie. “We hope to see a map probably the last week in March.”
Kibbie explained that there is a commission that will hold public hearings around the state, specifically on the new reapportionment maps where people can make comment. The comments will be sent to the legislature.
“The legislature would vote on that (map) about the second week in April,” he said. “We can’t amend it. We can either accept it or don’t accept it. If we turn it down, we give reasons why and they will come with another map probably 30 days later. Hopefully the legislative session is done, so we’d have to come back to act on that second map which will still can’t amend.”
The process would continue, with another map being redrawn and reasons given why it is turned down.
“Keep in mind, the law says they have to protect as many counties as possible and protect small cities,” said Kibbie. “The deviation between population and districts has to be within one percent on the first map. Every map after that has to be better on deviation. The third map can be amended by the legislature. So that’s the process we’re going to go through. If the legislature doesn’t make an agreement by Sept. 1, it goes to the Supreme Court to do it.”
Kibbie said that Iowa has used this process since 1980 and is recognized nationally for utilizing the best process.
Allowable growth for schools, preschool funding and other issues were also addressed at the Saturday morning meeting. Look for details of that discussion in The Democrat this Thursday.