AFSCME Iowa Council 61 - Every Day. Everywhere. Making Iowa Better.

Legislative Update: February 20, 2015

Mental Health Institutes Bill Passes Senate Subcommittee
Senate File 140, a bill filed by State Senator Rich Taylor, has passed out of a Senate subcommittee. This bill, if enacted into law, would prevent the governor from continuing his unilateral process of shutting down Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institutes before the General Assembly has had a chance to weigh in with a budget for the next Fiscal Year.

The bill passed with the support of all three subcommittee members: Sen. Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids), Sen. Amanda Ragan (D-Mason City), and Sen. Mark Segebart (R-Vail).The bill now goes to the full Iowa Senate Appropriations Committee.

Senator Hogg described the governor’s steps to unilaterally close these institutions as “unacceptable.” He added that patients he visited “were really benefitting from being there.”

Senator Segebart said “All we’ve really heard all year is don’t close them. We don’t have another option out there to send people to.”

Please continue to contact your legislators (by email, phone, and at legislative forums) in support of this bill. You can look up your legislator’s contact information here. Please make sure to use personal phones/computers/e-mail accounts and to contact your legislators from non-work locations during non-work hours.

Education Funding
Iowa House Republicans and Iowa Senate Democrats have not yet come to an agreement on education funding. Iowa House Republicans continue to support the governor’s recommendation for a 1.25% allowable growth rate, which the Iowa State Education Association and school superintendents have stated will lead to layoffs, larger class sizes, and non-replacement of classroom materials. Iowa Senate Democrats support a 4% allowable growth rate.

Correctional Services Districts’ Board of Directors Bill
A Senate subcommittee passed Senate File 145 on Tuesday. This legislation, if enacted, would add a non-voting AFSCME representative to the board of each Judicial District Department of Correctional Services Board. This would give the employees directly involved in providing these services a voice on their board. The idea for this bill came from AFSCME member Candace Acord’s 2014 AFSCME Women’s Leadership Academy project. The bill now goes to the full Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

Minimum Wage & Wage Theft Bills Pass Iowa Senate Committee
On Wednesday, the Iowa Senate Business and Labor Committee approved these two bills to be sent to the full Iowa Senate:

Senate File 269 - a bill raising the state minimum wage to $8.00/hour on July 1, 2015 and $8.75/hour on July 1, 2016. This bill passed out of committee by an 8-3 vote.

Senate File 270 - a bill to address the issue of wage theft. This bill passed out of committee by a 7-4 vote.

Legislative Forums
We strongly urge members to attend their legislators’ forums. We post links to legislative forum calendars on our website. We typically update this page on Wednesday or Thursday of each week.

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