February 23, 2017
Recently in our Transportation/Infrastructure Subcommittee meeting we had a presentation by the Iowa Rivers Program. They promote river trails and low head dam mitigation. Primarily we discussed low head dams and receiving funding (some of which comes through this budget sub.) The discussion concerned low head dams and how to mitigate the safety problems that come with them. Most of these dams were built in the first half of the Twentieth Century, and many were built to power mills of one kind or another. A few were built in later for ascetic purposes. They enabled people to make park-like settings along our streams. The problem with these dams is the water flows over the top and sets up severe turbulence that that sucks people back to the dam with no hope of getting away. In order to make them safe they were torn down and the results of rubble is used to make riffles that are good for fishing and kayaking. The resulting riffle that is in the river is a very attractive rapid-like structure.
Last week I sent out my newsletter as we were discussing the collective bargaining bill, not knowing that we would be voting on it before we went home on Thursday. I voted with the majority because it seemed to me to be the common sense thing to do. We pulled back some of the expansion that had taken place about 10 years ago. Chapter 20 has been open for discussion twice before this time. Following are some of the issues that have been stressed. The Governor signed HF 291 which reforms Iowa’s 40 year old law on collective bargaining for government employees. HF 291 should be a win for taxpayers, local officials, employees, and many others. HF 291 should allow schools and local governments to innovate and become more efficient in their operations. This bill was written by Iowans for Iowans, with input from Representatives, Senators, school superintendents, school board members, teachers, city councilors, and county supervisors.
HF 291 reduces the number of mandatory topics that parties are required to negotiate to include wages and other matters mutually agreed to. It also adds common-sense topics to the list of prohibited negotiations, which provides locally elected officials tools they to help manage their business operation. It allows schools and other local governments to recruit and retain the best teachers and employees with financial incentives. HF 291 makes a number of reforms to the arbitration process to protect taxpayers. The bill also requires unions to hold regular certification elections prior to contract negotiations, ensuring that the union has earned the support of a majority of employees in the workplace. Unions are required to collect dues rather than the state of Iowa and taxpayers having that responsibility through a payroll deduction.
This winter seems to be another one for the record books. The weather has been very nice, but keep in mind that this is Iowa and the only way that we keep averages is to have some really nasty weather in April and May. May 2nd of 2013 we had more than two inches of snow in Des Moines. Corn planting that had been started was put on hold, and farmers did not get back into the field again for another two weeks.
Please feel free to contact me by the information given above. Have a good weekend!