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Slow down state government reorganization
In her Condition of the State speech, Gov. Kim Reynolds promised to offer legislation reorganizing and streamlining state government. “I look forward to signing it into law and aligning state government with the only reason it exists — serving Iowans,” the governor said.
But her pledge comes in the form of a complex, 1,600-page bill that is currently moving through the Legislature. It’s impossible to argue that advancing her plan in such a massive piece of legislation serves Iowans. To the contrary, this process makes it exceedingly difficult for Iowans to understand how their government is being reshaped and the results of those actions.
We simply urge the Legislature to slow down. Iowans need more time to comprehend what’s happening and ask important questions about such a sweeping reorganization of the government that serves them and that they pay for with their taxes.
Neither Republicans nor Democrats should be supportive of this process.
We understand that Republicans who control the House and Senate have broken the bill into pieces for consideration. But even so, they’ve split a gigantic bill into massive pieces that are still difficult to digest. And there’s been precious little time provided for Iowans to weigh in. Already, the bill has been approved by the Senate State Government Committee, making it available for debate by the full Senate.
The bill’s scope can’t be understated. It makes large changes to several state departments and agencies. Governing boards that exist under current law vanish. New board s are created. Services and programs are shifted to new departments. Jobs are being eliminated. Independent entities created with protections from political influence will now serve at the pleasure of the governor. Control over numerous functions is being shifted to the governor’s office.
The bill would lower the bar for Senate confirmation of gubernatorial appointees from 34 votes in the Senate to 30. The bill emphasizes that the attorney general has the power to step in and prosecute local cases without a request from the county attorney. The bill would remove authority from local community-based corrections boards to the Department of Corrections.
These are just a few of the changes included in the bill. They’re the sort of proposals that should undergo comprehensive vetting and the participation of stakeholders affected by changes. But instead of a process that makes room for nuanced concerns and questions, it seems the main objective is to navigate this Titanic-sized bill to passage.
It’s worth noting that the merger of the Department of Human Services and Department of public Health took two years to undertake, and that some of the process happened before they sought legislative changes.
Lawmakers are deciding what our state government should look like and how it will serve the people of Iowa. It deserves careful deliberation. That can only happen if lawmakers slow down and seek wisdom from beyond the golden dome.
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