Lawmakers begin debate over collective bargaining bill
Right as an amendment filed by Democratic State Senator Nate Boulton to slow down the discussions over a controversial collective bargaining bill failed on a 21-29 vote, the Iowa House began debating the bill late Tuesday evening. If passed, it would drastically change collective bargaining rights for public workers.
"This is a much needed accountability and will be a much needed breath of fresh air for the public employees of this state," Republican State Senator Jason Schultz said, defending the bill.
Democrats rose in opposition to the Republican-led bill that would change the mandatory negotiating units under the current collective bargaining law and spoke in support of Boulton's amendment.
"There is a design in this legislation to plow salt in the fields and absolutely and completely destroy and decimate employee organizations," Boulton said.
State Senator David Johnson, the sole Independent in the Iowa Legislature, also criticized his former party, saying Republicans aren't making the right decision.
"You know, I've heard this too, modernization of Chapter 20 -- that's like modernization of Medicaid," Johnson said, pointing out the issues Iowa's privatized Medicaid system has faced in recent months.
House Republicans Tuesday afternoon said they made several changes to the current bill -- that as the public spoke out, they were listening.
Their amendment would change areas like reinstate proper clause. It would also make grievance procedures, seniority, release time "permissive," rather than prohibited. This means it would allow a union and an employer to both agree that it could be included in negotiation discussions.
It also adds motor vehicle enforcement officers onto the list of public safety workers.
"I mean I wouldn't call that a concession," Rep. Steven Holt, R - Denison, said. "Anytime you go through this process, you look for ways to make things better."
House Democrats say they're still not buying it.
"This is still a bad bill," Rep. Bruce Hunter, D - Des Moines, said.
Both the House and Senate will resume debates on Wednesday,