Legislative Update 2/9/17

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Quote of the Week

So let me be clear, Collective bargaining isn't a right, it is an expensive entitlement. Once and for all, we are giving the taxpayers a voice in this debate. We put the power back in the hands of the people.
~Scott Walker

Legislative Update


By now you have heard of a rather contentious issue with a few folks in Iowa.  Collective Bargaining became a hot topic this week in the Iowa House.  While I have nothing but respect for our state and local workers and teachers, I also recognize the fact that very little has been done with collective bargaining in Iowa in over 40 years.  Now, as many of you are homeowners, you will recognize the fact that upon occasion you need to do some maintenance to a house to keep it up and looking nice.  The same goes for legislation in that laws written 40 years ago, no longer accomplish what they were designed to do. 

This happens because as we modernize other laws and rules have been added to our state and federal code.  Many of the items in Collective Bargaining don’t even apply anymore. In an attempt “set the record straight”, I thought I would try and explain the bill to you.  There are a lot of misconceptions and lies about what’s actually in this bill.  In the end, there are some who are saying this bill will cause the sky to fall and in reality, it won’t change much for the average worker in Iowa. 
Please let me know your thoughts or questions in regards to this bill, or anything. 
What the bill does not do
The bill does not affect private sector unions.
The bill does not repeal the right to collectively bargain for government employees.
The bill does not affect pensions in any way.
The bill does not take away health insurance.  Under the bill the state is required to provide a health insurance plan to employees.
The bill does not mandate that local governments must join a statewide health insurance pool. 
Government sector collective bargaining needs to be rebalanced
Chapter 20 hasn’t had a thoughtful review in 40 years.  The current law went into place during Gov. Ray’s tenure.  Over the last four decades, the scales have been tipped in favor of government sector unions and against management and taxpayers who ultimately pay the bill.
Now is the time to rebalance the scales and make sure that Iowans have a fair and equitable system that works for public employers, employees, and taxpayers.
Currently an arbitrator is required to consider previous collective bargaining agreements.  Each time something is mandated in a contract, it puts one more finger on the scale tipping it further in the union’s favor. 
A significant number of government unions were originally certified shortly after the law first went into effect, likely before many current union members were even born.  Currently government sector unions do not need to recertify before they negotiate on behalf of workers.  Government unions should get permission from the people they claim to represent before negotiating on their behalf. 
These are just a few examples of why the law needs to be modernized and rebalanced.
Taxpayers shouldn’t be treated like an ATM
Taxpayers aren’t protected under the current system.  HSB 84 will give taxpayers a seat at the table and ensure that they’re treated fairly.
Arbitrators cannot even consider if the state has enough funds to pay for wage and benefit increases, but they can consider government’s ability to increase taxes in order to generate more funds to pay for these benefits.  That is unfair to jeopardize taxpayers and other key responsibilities of state government.  Collective bargaining agreements need to live within current financial realities instead of treating taxpayers like an unlimited ATM.
Changes are needed to reward exceptional employees while getting rid of the occasional bad employee
HSB 84 gives local governments the ability to recruit and reward exceptional employees while making it easier to get rid of bad ones.
Rewarding good employees and removing poor performing employees is a key change that needs to be made.  Currently it can take up to 3 years to terminate an ineffective teacher.  That is a disservice to taxpayers, parents and students.  The system should be built to protect exceptional employees instead of shielding poor performing ones.
Flexibility over resources for the state, cities, counties, and schools will allow more local control and lead to better service for taxpayers
Local officials are elected by their local voters to address the issues before those communities.  Greater flexibility for school boards, city councils, mayors and boards of supervisors, along with state government officials, allows for more effective allocation of resources.  Changing the mandated items that must be bargained for allows management the ability to actually manage.
State government should not be the collection agent for government unions
For decades, Iowa’s taxpayers have served as the bill collector for public employee unions by deducting union dues from government employee’s paychecks. 
Government unions should collect their dues from their members.  If a government union has won the right to collectively bargain, it is completely reasonable to expect them to collect their own dues instead of having their employer do it for them.
As always, I appreciate and value your thoughts.  I also appreciate the ability to represent you and bring our NW Iowa values to the Concrete of Des Moines. 

Representative John H. Wills

Legislative Priorities 


House Republicans are committed to these principles to produce a balanced and sustainable state budget:

  1. We will spend less than the state collects;
  2. We will not use one-time money to fund on-going needs;
  3. We will not balance the budget by intentionally underfunding programs; and
  4. We will return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers.
The House Republican position on government spending is reasonable, sustainable and based on simple common-sense budgeting principles.

2017 Legislative Forums

February 18 – 9:00am – Eggs & Issues – Spencer Chamber, 1805 Highway Blvd., Spencer
February 18 – 11:00am – ILG Forum – Pearson Lake Art Center, 2201 US-71, Okoboji
February 25 – 8:00am – Eggs & Issues – Forster Community Center, 404 Main St, Rock Rapids
February 25 – 10:30am – Eggs & Issues – Sibley Library, 406 9th Street, Sibley
March 11 – 11:30am – ILG Forum – Spirit Lake City Council Chamber, 1803 Hill Ave., Spirit Lake
March 25 – 8:00am – Eggs & Issues – Forster Community Center, 404 Main St, Rock Rapids

News from Around the District

Ice Seams Opening on West Lake Okoboji

Officials say ice conditions on some of the Iowa Great Lakes are starting to deteriorate in some places. Jeff Morrison, a conservation officer with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources tells KUOO news at least one seam on West Lake Okoboji that previously was an ice heave has now completely opened up over the weekend and is now open water.

"There's a number of them out there. The seam that runs between Pillsbury and Fort Dodge obviously has opened up and now we're going to need to stay away from that one even further than we, a wider berth than we had been giving it. And then the seam over between Eagle and Pocahontas, while it wasn't heaved up or opened up most of this weekend, it certainly can. Use due diligence and stay away from the seams and points, that's definitely going to have to start happening. You know we've been a little bit maybe over-confident of ice conditions. I've seen a lot of people driving full-size vehicles all over the lake, and certainly as spring approaches ice conditions are going to change. And what happened there at between Pillsbury and Fort Dodge is a good indicator as to just how quickly ice conditions can change."

Morrison says ice on at least one lake in the Iowa Great Lakes chain is starting to deteriorate from the bottom. 

"As what snow we've got melts, you know that's going to put water standing on the ice and anytime water's standing on the ice that water's got to go some place. I even had a gentleman tell me that he was on East Lake the other day and drilled a hole partially through and the bottom of the hole filled up with water, so his opinion is that the bottom three to four inches of ice on East Lake is starting to honeycomb."

Morrison says anyone venturing out onto the ice should use extra caution and keep a close eye on conditions.

Environmental Protection & Natural Resources

Plant edible habitat and conservation cover with the
State Forest Nursery’s February specialty packet

Create some habitat and conservation foodscapes, with the Wild Edibles Specialty Packet from Iowa’s State Forest Nursery.

“The packet consists of tree and shrub species selected for their potential to provide delicious berries and nuts to enhance your diet,” says Paul Tauke, state forester. “This packet is a great and affordable way to develop a wild garden on your acreage or in a large backyard.”

This Wild Edibles Packet is only available in February.  Cost for the 250 bare-root seedlings is $190 plus tax, shipping and handling, the same price as a regular 200-seedling packet. The Wild Edibles Packet includes 50 each of the following:

Wild Plum
Wild plum is great for making jams, jellies and puddings.  It is also very good nesting cover for birds and a good food source for butterflies and other pollinators. 

Aronia Berry
Aronia berries are a popular health food because of their antioxidant and vitamin content.  They can be used in a number of ways, including jams, jellies, pies and wine. They are also eaten fresh or dehydrated. Markets for these berries are also developing throughout the country. 

Serviceberry, also known as Juneberry, produces white flowers in early spring and bears edible purple berries in June. The fruit makes a great fresh topping to a bowl of cereal or a healthy addition to a salad.  

Shagbark hickory wood is used for smoking meats and the nuts make delicious snacks and additions to baked goods.  Hickory nuts are loaded with nutrients and healthy oils.

Hazelnuts are packed with folates, magnesium, vitamin E and vitamin B6. They are linked to improved muscle, skin and bone health.

The seedlings are between 8 and 24 inches, depending on the tree or shrub species. 

To take advantage of this offer, call the State Forest Nursery at 1-800-865-2477 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and mention the “Wild Edibles Packet.”  Landowners purchasing this packet will receive delivery in the spring.

Each month, the State Forest Nursery creates a different specialty packet with a unique mix of tree and shrub species. This month’s specialty packet is only available to order through Feb. 28, 2017. 

Anyone can purchase seedlings from the Iowa State Forest Nursery for CRP projects, to increase wildlife habitat, pollinator potential or to diversify backyard woodlands.  More than 40 species are available from the nursery. Seedling choices, including photos and descriptions, can be seen in the seedling catalog at and click on “Seedling Catalog.”

For more information about this monthly special or other tree and shrub seedlings, contact the Iowa DNR State Forest Nursery at 1-800-865-2477.   


Tour of Our District

Lyon County

The land that makes up Lyon County was ceded to the federal government by the Sioux Indians through a treaty signed on July 23, 1851. The boundaries of the county were set on January 15, 1851 and attached to Woodbury County (then called Wahkaw County) for administration purposes. Lyon County officially split from Woodbury County on January 1, 1872.

The first white man to live in Lyon County was Daniel McLaren, known as "Uncle Dan". He lived near the Sioux River for a short time, spending his time hunting and trapping. He moved out of the county very early in its settlement to stake a claim further west. The second settler in the area was known as "Old Tom", a hunter and trapper who lived briefly near present-day Rock Rapids. While setting his traps, Old Tom was killed by Sioux Indians.

In 1862–1863, a group of men from the east coast spent time in the county on a hunting trip. They were: Roy McGregor, George Clark and Thomas Lockhart. During the winter, Lockhart and McGregor were hunting elk along the Little Rock creek and encountered a group of Sioux Indians. Lockhart was killed by an arrow, but McGregor was able to escape and rejoin Clark. The two continued to hunt and trap until March 1863. During a spring flood, Clark was drowned and McGregor decided to move back east.

The first permanent settlement in Lyon County was built by Lewis P. Hyde in July 1866. The county's population reached 100 persons in 1869, entirely through migration and settlement. The first white child born in the county was Odena Lee, born on May 28, 1871. The first election in the county was held on October 10, 1871, and recorded 97 votes.

State of Iowa Fun Fact

Forty-Seventh Iowa General Assembly

The 47th General Assembly convened for 100 days from January 11 to April 20, 1937. Governor Nelson Kraschel was inaugurated January 14, 1937, at the age of 47. Iowa had a 158-member Legislature. There were 22 Democratic members and 28 Republican members in the Senate. The House of Representatives had an even split with 54 Republican members and 54 Democratic members. Lieutenant Governor John Valentine presided over the Senate. La Mar Foster served as Speaker of the House. Iowa’s population was 2,538,268 in 1940, according to the federal census.

Tour of The Iowa State Capitol

Map of the Week

The map can be found here

Visitors of the Week

Recently Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) met with members of the Iowa Great Lakes Board of REALTORS. The group was visiting the Capitol to talk with legislators about home savings account legislation.  Pictured here are Amy Maris (Okoboji), Jodi Tusa More (Spirit Lake), and Katie Slater (Okoboji) and Rep. John Wills (Spirit Lake).

Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) recently met with Steven Barber, Superintendent of George-Little Rock Community School District. Barber was visiting the capitol to talk with legislators about school funding and other K-12 education issues.  Pictured here is Steven Barber (George) and Rep. John Wills (Spirit Lake).

This week Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) met with members of YMCA of the Okobojis. The group was visiting the Capitol to talk with legislators as a part of Advocacy Day on the Hill for the YMCA.  Pictured here are Nate Gruys (Okoboji), Andrew Fisher (Okoboji), and Rep. John Wills (Spirit Lake).

Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) met with Don Breuker of Spirit Lake during his visit to the Capitol.

Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) met with Steve Simons of Lyon County Economic Development  and  Micah Freese of Rock Rapids Economic Development during their visit to the Capitol.

Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) and Rep. Megan Jones (R-Spencer) met with Matt Matthiesen of West O Beer during his visit to the Capitol.


Quick Links

State Representative, John H. Wills
Governor, Terry Branstad
Iowa Legislature
Iowa Judical Branch
Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey
Secretary of State, Paul Pate
State Auditor, Mary Mosiman
State Auditor, Mary Mosiman
State Senator, David Johnson
State Treasurer
U. S. Congressman, Steve King
Senator Chuck Grassley
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