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April 24th, 2009

Culver and the Democrats Moving Forward With Open Scope Bargaining. School Administrators Left in the Dark.

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Written by: Craig Robinson
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iowa-capitol4With the legislative session winding down, it seems like some bills are finally dead.

The mental health parity bill is dead.

A 5% biodiesel mandate is dead.

The so-called puppy mill bill is dead. It was going to cost the state $100 million in revenue.

A .08 blood alcohol limit for boaters is dead.

Raising the compulsory age for school attendance to 17 is also dead. If you remember this was one of Governor Culver’s priorities in January that he failed to get passed.

And, apparently, rewriting Iowa’s open meetings-open records law just isn’t a priority during this new era of transparency.

Missing on the list of so-called dead bills list were the various labor bills Democrats tried to pass earlier this session, as well as federal deductibility and Culver’s $750 million borrowing plan.

While many Democrat lawmakers do not like the governor’s $750 million debt plan, there seems to be an agreement to pass this piece of legislation despite the fact that 71% of Iowans oppose the idea.

Local school boards were instrumental in stopping the union-backed open-scope bargaining bill in last year’s session, but Culver now seems hell-bent on moving forward with some kind of collective bargaining reform. The Iowa Republican has obtained an email that confirming that Culver’s office has reached out to the Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) to see what types of changes to chapter 20 (Iowa’s Labor Laws) they would support.

An official from the IASB said that Culver’s office called to inquire specifically about teacher termination proceedings. This indicates that Governor Culver is wanting to support some form of the open-scope bargaining bill that he vetoed just a year ago.

State Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm, A newly elected Democrat state senator from northeast Iowa also confirmed that discussions on collective bargaining are taking place. From the same email she writes, “Just found out that there have been discussions about collective bargaining. I have been told there are three to four items that have been discussed and a couple of technical changes. I do not have all of the information yet. The discussions have been with leadership, the Governor’s office, labor, and school boards.”

Many school superintendents across the state are wondering why they are just now getting word that legislative Democrats and Governor Culver are about to make changes to chapter 20 in the final hours of the legislative session. There were public forums on prevailing wage, doctor shopping, and other major pieces of legislation. Yet, when it comes to making changes to Iowa’s collective bargaining laws, school administrators and the public have been kept in the dark.

We shouldn’t be surprised. This is exactly how the Democrats tried to pass this before. A year ago, it only took a few hours for both the House and Senate to pass the bill and send it down for Culver to sign. Luckily, he vetoed it back then, but this time around, he seems to be willing to sign it. Governor Culver is desperate to sign any piece of labor legislation this year with his re-election campaign looming.

Senate Majority Leader Gronstal said that the open-meeting/open-records bill was dead because the bill lacked an enforcement mechanism. He’s right. Until we have legislative leaders who are willing to operate in the light of day and not behind closed doors, the public and our local school administrators will continue to be left in the dark.

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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