Moore, Shipley hold second county legislative briefing
Around 20 residents from in and around Montgomery County took part in a second legislative briefing on Saturday, March 4 at the Montgomery County Family YMCA.
Iowa Sen. Tom Shipley was once again joined by Iowa Rep Tom Moore. Shipley said the legislature had just completed its busiest two weeks of the session, funnel week, a period where bills have to be voted through committee in order to stay alive. The deadline was March 3.
Shipley said the busiest committee he serves on is the judiciary committee. Shipley is working on a number of bills, including one that helps juveniles get representation when they’re in court.
“There has been a pilot project in the public defender’s office that provides some assistance to kids that never had any representation in court, like in custody hearings, and help them with situations they didn’t put themselves into. It has worked very well, and I was approached by the pilot project to expand the program to more counties, so that’s what we’re going to do, with the hope that it will take effect by the first of July,” Shipley said.
Shipley also stated he has introduced several bills to get the attention of the state’s railroads and get them to come to the table to talk about the issues. Shipley advised the attendees that the plan has been successful, and he does have the attention of Burlington Northern and Union Pacific, and an upcoming meeting was scheduled between representatives of both the railroads, a number of county engineers, and city officials. The overall goal, Shipley said, was to get the railroad companies to help with bridge repairs and construction. A number of railroad bridges in Montgomery County are among those needing repairs.
Moore said his focus so far has been with educational issues and said the busiest committee he serves on is the education committee, and he has been involved with passing 12 bills out of the committee last week. Moore said he introduced five bills personally, and all were approved. All of them dealt with helping in the hiring practices for new teachers.
“Among the bills I’ve introduced, one bill gets rid of the age limit for licensure, one allows us to license teachers from other states without them having to pass the exit exam that other states may require, as long as they’ve met all their college requirements. One allows districts to pay a stipend to student teachers,” commented Moore.
The briefing was then opened up to audience questions. Red Oak resident Larry Brandstetter had several comments for the lawmakers. Brandstetter questioned the proposal for teachers that had 10 years and a masters degree to not have to go back to school and learn anything else. Brandstetter felt, as a former teacher who taught for many years, that it would have had a negative effect.
“If this proposal was in place when I was teaching, for the last 25 years of my teaching experience, I wouldn’t have had to go back to school at all. I think that teachers need to go back to school and get brought up to date on new curriculum and classroom management. I feel it’s not going to solve the problem, and it may cause problems that we don’t have now,” Branstetter stated.
Moore said the purpose of the legislation was to help the teachers save money.
“They have spent their money to get their master’s degree, and this will save them from five hours of tuition costs. Right now, the cost of that tuition will eat up any raises the teachers get over five years. The teachers will still go through professional development.” Moore commented “Also, it seemed like some of the credits the teachers were getting were empty credits simply to get their license renewed. The last part of my thought was that it was a reward for the teachers for getting their masters degree.”
Brandstetter also asked that the legislature look into requirements for cities to publish redistricting information.
“The cities are not required to publish the new precincts in every community, neither are the counties, though Montgomery County does. I really think the citizens need to have an opportunity to weigh in on what the districts look like. The citizenry needs to have the ability to provide input on where the lines will fall,” Brandstetter explained. “I just want the requirements of the state level to be applied to the cities and the counties.”
Lastly, Brandstetter urged the lawmakers to beware of being influenced by outside groups, on both sides of the aisle, with a lot of money available to push legislation that may not be beneficial to Iowans.
“Nowhere is there any requirement that the voters, or the legislators, are made aware of where these things are coming from. All of the sudden, the bill just comes up, from out of state, big money, big agenda foundations,” advised Brandstetter. “The legislature just passed a sweeping education realignment of dollars, and all those ideas came from out of state.”
Shipley was in agreement with Brandstetter, but further discussion did not take place due to the time constraints of the briefing.
The legislators were also urged to support a pipeline bill that will give Iowa residents some safety. Moore said the bill was a work in progress and it was hard to satisfy everyone’s concerns.
The final legislative briefing is slated for 10 a.m. April 1 at the Montgomery County Family YMCA.