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Collective Bargaining Bill Remains on Fast Track at State Capitol, Heads to Full Senate

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The race to pass a bill that would strip bargaining rights from thousands of Iowa teachers, corrections officers and others continued at the State Capitol Thursday.

Just two days after Republican leaders finally released their collective bargaining bill it is already heading to the full Senate for a vote.  On Thursday afternoon the bill cleared the Senate Labor and Business Relations Committee.

Senate File 213 rewrites Iowa collective bargaining laws for non-public safety employees.  The bill would make it illegal for unions to negotiate for insurance benefits and other perks, it would also ban the practice of union dues being deducted from paychecks and it would limit the amount of raises that an arbitrator can award at hearings.

Republicans say Iowa's current collective bargaining system is antiquated and in need of modernization.  They say the bill will give more control back to local governments and school boards.

At today's committee hearing Des Moines Democrat Tony Bisignano argued the bill actually accomplishes the exact opposite.  He says the bill limits what local leaders and unions are allowed to discuss, limiting their negotiating power.

The bill exempts police and firefighter unions from the changes.  However those unions have stood by teachers unions, AFSCME and others during hearings on the bill.

Committee chair Jason Schultz, a Republican from Schleswig, noted the overwhelming public opposition to the bill that he's seen.  However he says he's heard from thousands of Iowans who support the bill.  But, he says, each and every one of those thousands of supporters are afraid to make a public statement for fear of retribution.

The bill now heads to the full Senate for debate.  A public hearing on the bill has been scheduled before that will happen.

This weekend Iowa teachers and their supporters are expected to rally outside the State Capitol in opposition to the bill.

On Sunday, February 12th the group "Iowans for Public Education" will rally from 2:00-3:30pm on the West steps of the capitol.