Emotions running high

CAPITOL LETTERS

BY STATE REPRESENTATIVE GARY WORTHAN

District 11, R-Storm Lake

Friday, March 2, was the first funnel of the session. The “funnel” is a rule that the Legislature has imposed on itself to set deadlines through the session to make for an orderly process towards adjournment. Friday’s funnel requires a bill to have been approved by its respective policy committee in either the House or the Senate. The next funnel comes in three weeks when a bill will need to have been passed by one chamber and been approved by a policy committee in the other chamber. Bills dealing with either revenue or spending are exempt from the funnel process. This process has worked well to enable an orderly step-by-step process for the Legislature to get its work done and adjourn on time.

Emotions have been running high since the beginning of the session.  The first action of the session was a de-appropriation bill that was required to balance the state’s books due to revenues that were less than the projection that this year’s budget was based on. Since then we have taken on several big issues, some have passed through committee and some will pass today and tomorrow to beat the funnel deadline.

The most concerning thing to me this session has been the amount of misinformation that has been disseminated in regard to the high profile bills that have been debated in both chambers.  Using the public union bargaining bill as an example it was apparent that forces from outside the Capitol were willing to go to any length in order to defeat this bill. They purposely misrepresented the effects of moving certain items from the list of mandatory subjects to the list of permissive subjects.  Permissive subjects can be bargained if both sides agree to negotiate on them. Opponents intimated that unless the item was on the mandatory list, employers would refuse to consider them. As I have talked to several public employers they maintain that refusing to bargain on some of these items would prevent them from ever getting an agreement and being forced to go to binding arbitration, which both sides try to avoid. Also on this issue, opponents deliberately misled their constituents by basing their campaign on the original draft of the bill when they had access to the amendment that would substantially change the bill and make it more acceptable to everyone. This was abundantly apparent in our forum two weeks ago when many of the complaints that Senator Segabart and I heard were clearly based on the bill prior to the amendment.

The same can be said of the bills currently under debate to defund abortion providers, preventing sanctuary cities, modifying workmen’s compensation rules, the election integrity bill, and changes in the laws regarding our Second Amendment rights.

Some of the misunderstanding also comes from not being familiar with the legislative process. I look at the initial introduction of a bill as a trial balloon. An individual, a group of legislators, a department, or the Governor’s office authors a bill that does something they want to accomplish. As the bill enters the committee process, other legislators with different points of view start to either modify the bill or kill it outright. After it comes out of committee the entire chamber gets to weigh in and again modify the bill into a form where it can be approved by the chamber. It then goes to the other chamber and starts the process over again.

If you have a question on a particular bill a good resource is our legislative website, www.legis.iowa.gov. Searching by bill number is the quickest and easiest but if you don’t have the number the website has search engines that will search by subject, a key word, by committee, by sponsor, and other parameters. I am always available through email at gary.worthan@legis.iowa.gov or through the House switch board at 515-281-3221 and leave a message on voicemail.  I only respond to citizens from my district, so please leave your name and town along with your contact information.

Good legislation is a product of good information, good communication, an innate knowledge of the district and hard work. I continually strive to achieve these goals in my representation of the 11th District.     

I look forward to having you join me at my last forum for the legislative session on Saturday, March 18, at 10 a.m. at King’s Pointe in Storm Lake.