Iowa Republicans pass labor law — The Majority Republicans used a “time certain” procedural move Thursday to expedite legislative passage over minority-party objections of a controversial rewrite of the state’s 1974 collective bargaining law. Gov. Terry Branstad is expected to approve the measure. Senate and House Democrats were outraged by what they considered to be a hurried process. “In my 25 years, I’ve never seen anything like this — ever,” said Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, who called rushed GOP action “shameful” by using a “mean-spirited, rigged system” to circumvent the normal legislative process. “This is absolute drunk on power.” Labor unions have vowed to continue to fight this act in court. Some say that the legislation, which significantly reduces labor unions’ ability to bargain for benefits, is unconstitutional. “This battle is not over. This war is not over,” AFSCME Local 61 President Danny Homan said Thursday after the Iowa House and Senate approved changes in the state’s public employee collective bargaining law that “pits employees within state government against each other” by treating police and firefighters differently than other public employees. Read about the passing of the legislation here, and labor union’s reaction here.
Guns on campus — Sen. Jake Chapman, R-Adel has introduced legislation that would block the Board of Regents, its institutions, and community colleges from adopting or enforcing any policies that prohibit a permit holder from “carrying, transporting or possessing a dangerous weapon.” in campus buildings or on the school grounds. Currently, all three state universities have rules in place that prohibit the possession or use of weapons on campus. Supporters of the bill point to Second Amendment rights, and the “good guy with a gun” argument as reasons for this legislation to pass. The bill defines dangerous weapons as any firearm, dagger, razor, switchblade, knife with a blade more than 5 inches long, or a stun gun. Read the full story here.
BIG ideas for Sinclare site — From flood protection to revitalization, the NewBo neighborhood has no shortage of developments planned in the coming years. Yesterday, students from the Iowa BIG school unveiled proposals for the land that was formerly the Sinclare meatpacking plant. Ideas ranged from a zip line park to a white-water rafting area, but one theme ran throughout. “As a senior in high school, I know a lot of my friends and I would love to come back to Cedar Rapids in a few years and make it even better than it was when I grew up,” said Sam McDermott, 17. “And it’s projects like these that will really help keep people involved in the community.” Read more about their proposals here.
Gander on the move — Gander Mountain, which had reported to be considering filing for bankruptcy protection, is expected to relocate from southwest Cedar Rapids to a new store off Blairs Ferry Road NE in late April or early May. The planned move by Gander Mountain to Northtowne Market is part of a major retail development that has occurred in the same area of Blairs Ferry Road NE. Read the full story here.
Quotable — “She lucked out when she found out Stella’s first foods were rice and beans, and that she was a Mexican food lover,” Jordan Ogden said. “So much in fact, that her first birthday (party) was Mexican inspired all because of her love for the food.” The one-year-old Stella Ogden has gained internet fame from her “taco smash” photo shoot. View the photos here, trust us, totally worth it.