Commentary & Community

Iowa Follows Wisconsin’s Lead on Unions



The fight over government worker unionization has come to Iowa.


Last week, the legislature passed a bill that would limit the power of government employee unions. Here is how VoteSpotter described the bill:


To limit the scope of collective bargaining for union of government workers, require ongoing elections of employees to keep a union in place, and prohibit the government from collecting dues or political contributions for a union. Some parts of this act do not apply to public safety employees.


With Republicans controlling the legislature and the governorship, this bill faced little serious opposition on its way into law.


Republicans in the Hawkeye State were inspired by legislation from Wisconsin in 2011. That was when Governor Scott Walker and Republicans in that state’s legislature enacted a bill, known as Act 10, to limit collective bargaining for government workers over fierce pushback by union and activists. By contrast, the Iowa legislation did not feature nearly the heated theatrics and political wrangling as occurred in Wisconsin.


What will happen in the wake of this bill’s enactment in Iowa? It may face a court challenge, as Act 10 did. If courts uphold the law, then Iowa will likely see a decline in government union membership, given the experience of Wisconsin. One analysis concluded that Act 10 produced $5 billion in savings for Wisconsin taxpayers over five years, so something similar could occur in Iowa, too. In fact, it seems that the effects of Act 10 are still being sorted out in Wisconsin, so it may take Iowa years to see the full impact of this legislation.


What do you think of this type of legislation? Are government unions too powerful? Or are legislators on the wrong track in limiting collective bargaining for government employees?


Iowa Senate Bill 166: Increase State Funding for Schools by 1.1 Percent


Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in Iowa, and check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted.


Senate Bill 166, Increase state funding for schools by 1.1 percent: Passed the state Senate 28 to 21 on February 2, 2017 and 55 to 40 in the state House on February 6, 2017


To increase the state funding of public schools by 1.1 percent for the next year. Also, the bill removes a requirement that the legislature fix the amount of state aid two years in advance.


Iowa Senate Bill 2: End taxpayer Funding for Planned Parenthood


Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in Iowa, and go to to signup and see how your legislators voted.


Senate Bill 2, End taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood: Passed 30 to 20 in the state Senate on February 2, 2017


To direct the state health department to not spend Medicaid money on organizations that perform abortions, and to set up a new state program to give family planning services. This is known in the press as the "defund Planned Parenthood" bill.


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