[ {"id":"a99bb319-3406-552d-a0d3-6ae1d23bba0f","type":"article","starttime":"1484872860","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-19T18:41:00-06:00","sections":[{"illinois":"news/state-and-regional/illinois"},{"government-and-politics":"news/local/government-and-politics"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Illinois lawmakers consider eliminating future lawmakers\u2019 pensions","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/illinois/article_a99bb319-3406-552d-a0d3-6ae1d23bba0f.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/illinois/illinois-lawmakers-consider-eliminating-future-lawmakers-pensions/article_a99bb319-3406-552d-a0d3-6ae1d23bba0f.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/illinois/illinois-lawmakers-consider-eliminating-future-lawmakers-pensions/article_a99bb319-3406-552d-a0d3-6ae1d23bba0f.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Debby Hernandez\nTimes Bureau","prologue":"SPRINGFIELD \u2014 Illinois House and Senate members have proposed legislation in recent years that would eliminate new members\u2019 eligibility for the General Assembly\u2019s retirement system, but no law has been enacted so far. However, a growing number of lawmakers are opting out of the system on their own.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["john patterson","john cullerton","david mcsweeney","illinois supreme court","general assembly","tim butler","illinois","andy manar","illinois house","politics","law","welfare","senate","legislation","lawmaker","legislator","retirement"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"a7742f2a-079b-5321-9b83-efa3a8871146","description":"Illinois state Rep. Tim Butler","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"mugshot","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"180","height":"270","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/77/a7742f2a-079b-5321-9b83-efa3a8871146/58815e44c27ec.image.jpg?resize=180%2C270"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"150","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/77/a7742f2a-079b-5321-9b83-efa3a8871146/55e75853da307.preview-100.jpg"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"207","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/77/a7742f2a-079b-5321-9b83-efa3a8871146/58815e44c27ec.image.jpg?crop=180%2C124%2C0%2C62"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"705","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/77/a7742f2a-079b-5321-9b83-efa3a8871146/58815e44c27ec.image.jpg?crop=180%2C124%2C0%2C62"}}}],"revision":1,"commentID":"a99bb319-3406-552d-a0d3-6ae1d23bba0f","body":"

SPRINGFIELD \u2014 Illinois House and Senate members have proposed legislation in recent years that would eliminate new members\u2019 eligibility for the General Assembly\u2019s retirement system, but no law has been enacted so far.

However, a growing number of lawmakers are opting out of the system on their own.

As of this week, 52 of the General Assembly\u2019s 177 current members have opted out of the pension plan.

Meanwhile, each chamber will consider proposals in the new session to end pension benefits for future legislators.

A House bill would prohibit the retirement system from accepting future lawmakers beginning Jan 1. As part of its \u201cgrand bargain\u201d budget package, the Senate proposes an overarching pension reform plan, including restricting the General Assembly plan from accepting any new participants after the legislation is enacted.

Under the state law, state constitutional officers, the House clerk and assistant clerk, and the Senate secretary and assistant secretary also are eligible to participate after serving 10 years. However, future officials in these positions would not be eligible under the Senate\u2019s proposal.

John Patterson, spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said the legislation is focused on future members because of a 2015 Illinois Supreme Court decision on pensions.

\u201cWe are trying to put together an effort in the Senate to recognize where we think there is some common ground, both among the members and in the decision that the courts have made, to see if we can put together some savings,\u201d Patterson said.

The Supreme Court ruled in May 2015 that, according to the Illinois Constitution, pension benefits for current members cannot be \u201cdiminished or impaired.\u201d Lawmakers had attempted to reduce pension benefits in an effort to minimize the state\u2019s high pension debt.

State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, is a co-sponsor on the current House proposal and co-sponsored a previous version.

Butler, who opted out of the retirement plan after being appointed to his seat in 2015, said he does not think legislators should receive a pension.

\u201cIt\u2019s a lucrative pension. ... I don\u2019t see where people in the General Assembly really should get a pension for the work they\u2019re doing on behalf of the people,\u201d Butler said. \u201cMembers haven\u2019t really felt the need to eliminate it because they\u2019re benefiting from it, frankly. I don\u2019t hold that against any member.\u201d

Of the 17 newly elected lawmakers this year, 12 have opted out, while five have yet to decide whether to accept legislative pensions. New lawmakers have up to two years to decide whether to participate.

The number of lawmakers choosing to opt out jumped from seven members in fiscal year 2012 to 23 members in fiscal 2013. Since then, numbers have steadily increased.

State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, opted out of the retirement system after being elected in 2012.

Manar said he decided to opt out to remain consistent with his decision to not participate in the retirement system in his previous positions as mayor of Bunker Hill and chairman of the Macoupin County Board.

Manar said he supports the Senate\u2019s proposed pension reform legislation.

He also was a co-sponsor of an unsuccessful bill in the last General Assembly that would have prohibited new senators from participating.

Butler said he hopes legislation to eliminate pensions for lawmakers will be considered in the new session, but a law is more likely to be enacted in future General Assemblies.

\u201cI\u2019ve become more encouraged ... because I think every year we have more members opt out,\u201d he said. \u201cIt\u2019s certainly something that is on the radar.\u201d

Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, introduced another House bill this week that would prohibit new legislators elected or appointed after Nov. 6, 2018, from participating in the retirement system.

"}, {"id":"3506b926-9d5e-56ac-b14e-f7dfbd58464c","type":"article","starttime":"1484870820","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-19T18:07:00-06:00","lastupdated":"1484871545","sections":[{"iowa":"news/state-and-regional/iowa"},{"government-and-politics":"news/local/government-and-politics"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Iowa Capitol Digest: Legislator pitches flu shots instead of bills","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/iowa/article_3506b926-9d5e-56ac-b14e-f7dfbd58464c.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/iowa/iowa-capitol-digest-legislator-pitches-flu-shots-instead-of-bills/article_3506b926-9d5e-56ac-b14e-f7dfbd58464c.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/iowa/iowa-capitol-digest-legislator-pitches-flu-shots-instead-of-bills/article_3506b926-9d5e-56ac-b14e-f7dfbd58464c.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items for Thursday: FLU PREVENTION: Rep. John Forbes, an Urbandale Democrat who is a licensed pharmacist, took matters into his own hands Thursday to help limit the potential of a flu outbreak at the Statehouse. Forbes and two legislative interns who are Drake University pharmacy students set up a makeshift flu-shot dispensary behind the House chambers for legislators, staff or others interested in getting a flu shot. Forbes said the state Capitol building can be \"a cesspool of bacteria\" with many people coming from all around Iowa and beyond with a mix of germs or maladies they share in close quarters with others. Forbes took to the House floor to announce Thursday he was offering flu shots to any and all takers and up to nine lawmakers planned to take him up on his offer. House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow, R-Windsor Heights, said illness this week cut into the number of legislators in attendance during a week abbreviated by a state holiday on Monday and the presidential inauguration on Friday.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["influenza vaccine","iowa","iowa reading research center","brad zaun","tom green","john forbes","workplace drug-testing law","natural gas prices","herman quirmbach","bill dotzler","republican party","jason schultz","drake university","rob hogg","deborah k. reed","chris hagenow","retail diesel fuel prices","department of agriculture","politics","institutes","parliament","law","subcommittee","senate","flu"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"af16c43c-b1d3-52db-9edf-83d536d92a4f","description":"Rep. John Forbes, an Urbandale Democrat who is a licensed pharmacist, and two legislative interns who are Drake University pharmacy students, set up a makeshift flu-shot dispensary behind the House chambers on Thursday for legislators, staff or others interested in getting a flu shot to limit the potential for an outbreak at the state Capitol building in Des Moines.","byline":"ROD BOSHART, TIMES BUREAU","hireswidth":3264,"hiresheight":2448,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/f1/af16c43c-b1d3-52db-9edf-83d536d92a4f/588157798adf5.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1662","height":"1246","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/f1/af16c43c-b1d3-52db-9edf-83d536d92a4f/5881577953443.image.jpg?resize=1662%2C1246"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"75","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/f1/af16c43c-b1d3-52db-9edf-83d536d92a4f/5881577953443.image.jpg?resize=100%2C75"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"225","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/f1/af16c43c-b1d3-52db-9edf-83d536d92a4f/5881577953443.image.jpg?resize=300%2C225"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"768","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/f1/af16c43c-b1d3-52db-9edf-83d536d92a4f/5881577953443.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C768"}}}],"revision":2,"commentID":"3506b926-9d5e-56ac-b14e-f7dfbd58464c","body":"

A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items for Thursday:

FLU PREVENTION: Rep. John Forbes, an Urbandale Democrat who is a licensed pharmacist, took matters into his own hands Thursday to help limit the potential of a flu outbreak at the Statehouse. Forbes and two legislative interns who are Drake University pharmacy students set up a makeshift flu-shot dispensary behind the House chambers for legislators, staff or others interested in getting a flu shot. Forbes said the state Capitol building can be \"a cesspool of bacteria\" with many people coming from all around Iowa and beyond with a mix of germs or maladies they share in close quarters with others. Forbes took to the House floor to announce Thursday he was offering flu shots to any and all takers and up to nine lawmakers planned to take him up on his offer. House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow, R-Windsor Heights, said illness this week cut into the number of legislators in attendance during a week abbreviated by a state holiday on Monday and the presidential inauguration on Friday.

SCHOOL DRESS CODES: A Senate Education subcommittee on Thursday discussed but did not take action on legislation that would authorize Iowa school officials to adopt a mandatory uniform policy covering an individual school or the entire district. Senate File 31 would provide for the mandatory uniform policy \u2014\u00a0in addition to the dress code policy currently authorized under state law \u2014\u00a0if the local school board determines that a mandatory uniform policy is necessary for the health, safety or positive educational environment of students and staff in the school or for the appropriate discipline and operation of the school. The bill, offered by Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, provides that a mandatory uniform policy is not a violation of state law, which establishes that public school students have the right to exercise freedom of speech, if the policy is viewpoint neutral, is reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns or protects students from sexually explicit, indecent or lewd speech. Subcommittee chair Sen. Tom Green, R-Burlington, said he supports the bill because it gives districts local control, but Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, viewed the proposed change as an infringement on free speech. \"What problem are we trying to solve?\" he asked. Green said he expected the panel would hold a follow-up meeting on the legislation yet this session.

WORKPLACE DRUG TESTING: Iowa's workplace drug-testing law would be expanded to include hair samples under a bill that cleared a Senate Labor and Business Relations subcommittee on Thursday. Senate File 32 would amend current state law that permits private-sector drug testing on samples of an employee's urine, saliva, breath and blood under approved federal standards. Representatives of employer groups supported the measure, while union lobbyists and worker advocates said Iowa's current law is adequate and working. Sen. Bill Dotzler, D-Waterloo, said the expansion would send the wrong signal to prospective employees from to move to Iowa from other states or veterans returning to the workforce. GOP senators who voted to send the bill to full committee said it would enhance the safety of Iowa workplaces and was a less-intrusive way to get a sample than testing blood or urine.

READING HELP: Schools in five Iowa cities have been selected for a new customized Iowa Reading Research Center literacy improvement program. Center officials say the two-year initiative will provide expert training in literacy instruction, need-based improvement planning and continuous support to four education agencies in order to bring improved literacy outcomes for students facing multiple challenges. The partnering schools selected include the Grant Wood Area Education Agency Shelters and Detention Classrooms in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, Fort Dodge Alternative High School, Midland Park School at Eldora and Waverly-Shell Rock Lied Center. \"Each school has identified an important literacy issue affecting its students, and the potential outcomes are representative of the positive impact we can make when educators and researchers work collaboratively,\" said Deborah K. Reed, director of the Iowa Reading Research Center. In total, the two-year initiative has the potential of affecting more than 425 students across the four partner schools, she said.

IOWA GUN LAWS: A state senator wants to lift restrictions on possessing a machine gun, a short-barreled rifle or a short-barreled shotgun in Iowa. Sen. Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, introduced a bill Thursday that seeks to eliminate the state's prohibitions on possessing weapons that are regulated under federal law. \"This is part of a larger move to withdraw Iowa law from exceeding federal law in several areas. The basic theme is, let's not restrict Iowans' freedom further than federal law does,\" Schultz said. He said Senate File 108 was drafted with gun enthusiasts, hobbyists and sportsmen in mind. \"They are legitimate sporting tools for recreation under federal guidelines, and as such, I don't think we should regulate them beyond what the federal government does,\" he said.

FUEL PRICES: Retail gasoline prices in Iowa generally were unchanged over the past week, holding steady at $2.36 per gallon for a statewide average, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Iowa's price was slightly higher than the $2.34 a gallon national average and 52 cents higher than a year ago. Retail diesel fuel prices in Iowa were down 2 cents a gallon from last week's price with a statewide average of $2.48. A year ago, diesel prices averaged $1.98 in Iowa. On the heating fuels side, propane prices were up 2 cents from last week's report, with a statewide average of $1.21 per gallon. Home heating prices remained steady from last week, ending with a statewide average of $2.07, while natural gas prices rose 10 cents to $3.31/MMbtu.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: \"That is one of these phony solutions in search of a fake problem. It's totally misguided. Not a single dollar from the state is used for abortion at Planned Parenthood.\" \u2014\u00a0Senate Democratic Leader Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids in discussing Senate File 2, a bill scheduled for subcommittee action next week that would seek to defund Planned Parenthood by stipulating that state money could not go to women's health clinics that include abortion as one of the services they offer.

\u2014 Times Bureau

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DES MOINES \u2014\u00a0Legislative Democrats said Thursday school officials are warning they will face larger class sizes, teacher layoffs and other cutbacks that will affect educational quality and offerings negatively even if they receive the 2 percent boost in state aid Gov. Terry Branstad has proposed.

Minority Democrats say K-12 schools have been under-funded for six years and are slipping \u2014\u00a0especially in rural areas \u2014\u00a0at a time when expectations are growing for education to be a key driver in producing the skilled workforce needed to bolster Iowa\u2019s economic future.

\u201cThis is a crucial time. If we don\u2019t invest in our kids now, we will pay for it later,\u201d said Rep. Sharon Steckman, D-Mason City, in discussing results of a survey of 140 school administrators that found nearly 83 percent favoring a boost in state aid to K-12 schools of 4 percent or higher in fiscal 2018.

The survey of school superintendents found that 71 percent envisioned larger class sizes, 61 percent expected to have to lay off teachers, 58 percent would reduce class offerings and 65 percent expected to delay purchases of up-to-date textbooks and classroom materials if the state aid boost they receive for next school year is 2 percent.

\u201cPart of the problem with the low funding has been our rural districts, and all of you know that when a school dies in rural district, that town dies, too, and so we\u2019re forcing small districts to make terrible decisions for their communities,\u201d Steckman told a Statehouse news conference.

Her comments came at a time when Republicans who hold majorities in the House and Senate are working to identify up to $118 million in spending cuts to erase a projected shortfall for the current budget year before turning to next year\u2019s level of state aid to K-12 schools they hope to decide by mid-February.

\u201cWe continue to make very good progress,\u201d House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow, R-Windsor Heights, said of negotiations with Branstad on the fiscal 2017 de-appropriations bill. \u201cI think we\u2019re very close.\u201d

Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, was optimistic lawmakers could complete work on the current-year spending cuts next week and then turn their attention to the school funding issue. GOP leaders said neither chamber had settled on a school aid funding level yet for fiscal 2018.

Branstad proposed a 2 percent boost for each of the next two fiscal years. Legislative Democrats said Thursday that is not enough, and they feared GOP legislators would settle on an even lower funding level.

\u201cTwo percent is not adequate, and the conversation I\u2019m hearing from legislative Republicans is they\u2019re going to be less than that, and that\u2019s something we\u2019re very concerned about. We need Iowans to speak up,\u201d Senate Minority Leader Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, said. \u201cWe are very concerned that this is doing long-term damage.\u201d

He also expressed concerns Branstad and Republicans were looking at \u201cmajor mid-year cuts\u201d to higher education when the state has options to deal with a shortfall at a time when revenues are strong and reserves are full rather than paring back spending in ways that \u201care comparable and in some cases larger that the cuts that the Culver administration made in 2009.\u201d

Dix said the state was put in this position because of Democrats who previously controlled the Senate with \u201ca never-ending appetite for taxpayers\u2019 money\u201d before losing their majority in the 2016 election.

\u201cThat\u2019s what has really led to the situation that we\u2019re in,\u201d Dix said in an interview. \u201cThis is a spending problem, a spending problem that the Democrats really pushed. I don\u2019t know why we would want to take their advice when their advice has led us to the problem we are in currently.\u201d

"}, {"id":"c7d6f7a7-4736-5a52-bed1-7f506745c36c","type":"article","starttime":"1484869260","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-19T17:41:00-06:00","lastupdated":"1484876417","sections":[{"elections":"news/local/government-and-politics/elections"},{"iowa":"news/state-and-regional/iowa"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Democrats irked by Pate presentation without voter ID bill","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/local/government-and-politics/elections/article_c7d6f7a7-4736-5a52-bed1-7f506745c36c.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/local/government-and-politics/elections/democrats-irked-by-pate-presentation-without-voter-id-bill/article_c7d6f7a7-4736-5a52-bed1-7f506745c36c.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/local/government-and-politics/elections/democrats-irked-by-pate-presentation-without-voter-id-bill/article_c7d6f7a7-4736-5a52-bed1-7f506745c36c.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"James Q. Lynch\nTimes Bureau","prologue":"DES MOINES \u2014\u00a0With Secretary of State Paul Pate\u2019s Election Integrity Act still in draft stage, Democrats on the House State Government Committee complained it was hard to ask questions about his proposal to require all voters to present ID cards before casting their ballots. \u201cWe were hoping today is to have the bill before us \u2026 so we could ask about what it does and about problems and pitfalls,\u201d Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, said about the bill still being drafted by the Legislative Services Agency. \u201cPart of the concern and angst we have about opening this up today is there are so many questions we have.\u201d","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["voter id laws","electoral fraud","paul pate","politics","mary mascher","bruce hunter","general election","legislative services agency","house state government committee","iowa","secretary of state","ministries","id card","lack","democrat","election"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"325a04c3-d7cd-5e12-8471-4a1ec25a92b4","description":"Pate","byline":"","hireswidth":1287,"hiresheight":1608,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/25/325a04c3-d7cd-5e12-8471-4a1ec25a92b4/586ed4e93e103.hires.jpg","presentation":"mugshot","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1287","height":"1608","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/25/325a04c3-d7cd-5e12-8471-4a1ec25a92b4/58509b0136832.image.jpg?resize=1287%2C1608"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/25/325a04c3-d7cd-5e12-8471-4a1ec25a92b4/58509b0136832.image.jpg?crop=1265%2C703%2C0%2C95&resize=100%2C56&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"167","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/25/325a04c3-d7cd-5e12-8471-4a1ec25a92b4/58509b0136832.image.jpg?crop=1265%2C703%2C0%2C95&resize=300%2C167&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"569","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/25/325a04c3-d7cd-5e12-8471-4a1ec25a92b4/58509b0136832.image.jpg?crop=1265%2C703%2C0%2C95&resize=1024%2C569&order=crop%2Cresize"}}}],"revision":4,"commentID":"c7d6f7a7-4736-5a52-bed1-7f506745c36c","body":"

DES MOINES \u2014\u00a0With Secretary of State Paul Pate\u2019s Election Integrity Act still in draft stage, Democrats on the House State Government Committee complained it was hard to ask questions about his proposal to require all voters to present ID cards before casting their ballots.

\u201cWe were hoping today is to have the bill before us \u2026 so we could ask about what it does and about problems and pitfalls,\u201d Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, said about the bill still being drafted by the Legislative Services Agency. \u201cPart of the concern and angst we have about opening this up today is there are so many questions we have.\u201d

Rep. Bruce Hunter, D-Des Moines, was equally perplexed by the lack of anything more than a one-page explainer.

\u201cWithout a bill, it\u2019s hard to ask specific questions,\u201d he said, adding that made the discussion \u201ckind of meaningless.\u201d

He did make clear his opposition, telling Pate that there were only 31 credible instances of fraud in the billion votes cast between 2000 and 2014.

\u201cI have a better chance of getting struck by lightning. Twice,\u201d Hunter said.

Pate addressed several questions about the mechanics of his proposal during an hour-long presentation and question-and-answer session. He emphasized that it gives voter participation and election integrity equal priority and would require more of election administrators \u2014\u00a0his office and county auditors \u2014\u00a0but would not be a burden on voters.

He\u2019s calling for voter identification, including existing Iowa driver\u2019s licenses, passports and military IDs, to be required and signatures to be verified at polling sites. Eligible voters, out-of-state students and others who lack approved identification would be issued free ID cards, including a personal identification number, that would be required for all absentee ballot requests.

He\u2019s calling for a \u201csoft roll-out\u201d of the new voter ID procedures beginning with city and school elections this year. No one would be turned away if they didn\u2019t have their ID as long as they can verify they are who they say they are. The mandatory use of the new procedures would begin in 2018, after the 2018 general election.

He also is calling for post-election audits to affirm results and illuminate problems.

Other changes would include the use of electronic pollbooks to replace voluminous paper pollbooks at every precinct. Pate said 72 of 99 counties already use pollbooks.

"}, {"id":"e9cad152-e3b7-52df-a1db-5fc4c260ac43","type":"article","starttime":"1484868720","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-19T17:32:00-06:00","lastupdated":"1484871186","sections":[{"government-and-politics":"news/local/government-and-politics"},{"iowa":"news/state-and-regional/iowa"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Iowa House bill would prohibit city limit on rental property occupancy","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/local/government-and-politics/article_e9cad152-e3b7-52df-a1db-5fc4c260ac43.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/local/government-and-politics/iowa-house-bill-would-prohibit-city-limit-on-rental-property/article_e9cad152-e3b7-52df-a1db-5fc4c260ac43.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/local/government-and-politics/iowa-house-bill-would-prohibit-city-limit-on-rental-property/article_e9cad152-e3b7-52df-a1db-5fc4c260ac43.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"James Q. Lynch\nTimes Bureau","prologue":"DES MOINES \u2014\u00a0Home rule, which is likely to be a frequent issue in the 2017 Iowa legislative session, was cited by both advocates and opponents of a proposed prohibition on regulating rental unit occupancy based on familial relationships. House Study Bill 3, which is similar to a bill passed by the Iowa House in 2015, has been resurrected and was debated by lobbyists for landlords and cities Thursday.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["home rule","law","legislation","ability","robert palmer","joe kelly","occupancy","ordinance","rep"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","revision":2,"commentID":"e9cad152-e3b7-52df-a1db-5fc4c260ac43","body":"

DES MOINES \u2014\u00a0Home rule, which is likely to be a frequent issue in the 2017 Iowa legislative session, was cited by both advocates and opponents of a proposed prohibition on regulating rental unit occupancy based on familial relationships.

House Study Bill 3, which is similar to a bill passed by the Iowa House in 2015, has been resurrected and was debated by lobbyists for landlords and cities Thursday.

Those representing cities called the bill a breach of home rule. Robert Palmer of the League of Cities cited an Iowa Supreme Court decision in which justices upheld Ames\u2019 authority under home rule to implement such limits. Many cities, especially those with colleges and universities, limit occupancy.

While home rule is a part of the debate, Palmer told lawmakers cities\u2019 ordinances protect the property rights \u2014\u00a0and values \u2014\u00a0of other property owners.

\u201cAt the heart of this matter is the ability to preserve certain neighborhoods as single-family neighborhoods,\u201d he said.

If occupancy is not limited, Ames Mayor Ann Campbell said, rental units can become \u201ca magnet for massive parties that are not contained inside.\u201d

That causes problems for neighbors and, often, for police, she said.

She also reminded subcommittee members Reps. Zach Nunn, R-Bondurant, and Liz Bennett, D-Cedar Rapids, that university communities \u201care a world unto themselves.\u201d

If the Legislature restricts cities\u2019 ability to regulate rental property occupancy, Larry Murphy, who was representing Cedar Rapids, said \u201cyou see a downward slide\u201d because of vehicles, parking, trash and other issues that can \u201cdowngrade neighborhoods.\u201d

Joe Kelly, representing the Landlords of Iowa, called home rule a \u201csmall factor\u201d and argued cities have other tools in their planning and zoning ordinances to regulate housing.

\u201cFamilial status is not the core issue,\u201d he said in arguing for the bill. \u201cJust to say unrelated people living together are more of a burden than a family isn\u2019t right.\u201d

Large families may own several vehicles, create more traffic, make noise and put the same demands on city water and sewer infrastructure as unrelated adults living together, Kelly said.

Pete McRoberts, representing the ACLU-Iowa, said the proposed bill does not violate home rule or cities\u2019 ability to regulate housing for the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the community.

\u201cEvery protection the city needs to prevent a nuisance is absolutely is protected, is not touched by this law,\u201d he said.

No decision was made because a third subcommittee member, Rep. Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City, was absent.

"}, {"id":"bfa01461-c1d5-56b9-8f1a-87c762fe7390","type":"article","starttime":"1484868600","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-19T17:30:00-06:00","lastupdated":"1484876415","sections":[{"government-and-politics":"news/local/government-and-politics"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Maquoketa council extends contract with city manager","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/local/government-and-politics/article_bfa01461-c1d5-56b9-8f1a-87c762fe7390.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/local/government-and-politics/maquoketa-council-extends-contract-with-city-manager/article_bfa01461-c1d5-56b9-8f1a-87c762fe7390.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/local/government-and-politics/maquoketa-council-extends-contract-with-city-manager/article_bfa01461-c1d5-56b9-8f1a-87c762fe7390.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Sheri Melvold\nnewsroom@qctimes.com","prologue":"MAQUOKETA, Iowa \u2014\u00a0Maquoketa City Council members accepted the resignation of a council member and agreed to extend the city manager's contract for an undetermined length. Council members agreed Monday night to extend City Manager Brian Wagner's last day of work past Jan. 31. The resolution states that either the council or city manager can provide a two-week notice for Wagner's last day.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["maquoketa","iowa","brian wagner","maquoketa city council","maquoketa council","chuck current","fifth ward","politics","city manager","council member","resignation","council","contract"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","revision":4,"commentID":"bfa01461-c1d5-56b9-8f1a-87c762fe7390","body":"

MAQUOKETA, Iowa \u2014\u00a0Maquoketa City Council members accepted the resignation of a council member and agreed to extend the city manager's contract for an undetermined length.

Council members agreed Monday night to extend City Manager Brian Wagner's last day of work past Jan. 31. The resolution states that either the council or city manager can provide a two-week notice for Wagner's last day.

Wagner submitted his resignation through a contract earlier this month. The council approved the contract, which set Wagner's last day as Jan. 31 with the provision that the city manager might work beyond the last day.

\"Now either party can give the other two week's notice about a last day. So, there's a possibility that I might still be working for several more weeks,\" Wagner said in response to an e-mail.

At a previous meeting, council members said they will seek request for proposals from companies that will assist in the search for a new city manager. The request has not come back before the council.

Also Monday night, Fifth Ward Councilman Chuck Current submitted his resignation, and the council accepted it effective Jan. 31.

Current has served on the council for just more than a year. Current said he and his wife, Wendy, will be moving to central Iowa in mid-February. In October, Ohnward Bancshares said Current's position as senior vice president and chief business officer was being eliminated.

\"Given the important work before the council such as budget and city manager search, I felt it was imperative to resign quickly giving my replacement as much time as possible to get up-to-speed and contribute on these important matters,\" Current wrote in his letter.

Council members took no action Monday night on whether they will appoint someone to the position or have a special election.

"}, {"id":"9d2ce354-8e1c-5288-96af-01eb46553d4a","type":"article","starttime":"1484867700","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-19T17:15:00-06:00","lastupdated":"1484876168","sections":[{"government-and-politics":"news/local/government-and-politics"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Corps readies Lock 15 for future maintenance","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/local/government-and-politics/article_9d2ce354-8e1c-5288-96af-01eb46553d4a.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/local/government-and-politics/corps-readies-lock-for-future-maintenance/article_9d2ce354-8e1c-5288-96af-01eb46553d4a.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/local/government-and-politics/corps-readies-lock-for-future-maintenance/article_9d2ce354-8e1c-5288-96af-01eb46553d4a.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Ed Tibbetts\netibbetts@qctimes.com","prologue":"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the midst of installing what are called bulkhead slots at Lock and Dam 15, a preparatory step for what is a relatively rare occurrence: The draining of the lock to conduct more extensive inspections and maintenance. No plans are being made yet to dewater the lock. That will require funding that is not yet available, Corps officials say. However, over the past five or six years, the Rock Island district of the Corps has been installing bulkhead slots at the dozen locks along the Mississippi River that fall under its jurisdiction so that when funding is available, they'll be ready.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["lock","water transport infrastructure","rock island","j.f. brennan co.","allen marshall","mississippi river","u.s. army corps of engineers","new boston","davenport","matt coffelt","corps","hydrography","work","company","slot","bulkhead","official"],"internalKeywords":["#free"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"d44dfc74-5174-5342-a4ed-c140c1e90f76","description":"Work is in progress Thursday on Lock 15 on the Mississippi River, installing bulkheads that will be used during a future maintenance project.","byline":"Andy Abeyta, QUAD-CITY TIMES","hireswidth":1777,"hiresheight":1166,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/44/d44dfc74-5174-5342-a4ed-c140c1e90f76/58814879bc154.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1777","height":"1166","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/44/d44dfc74-5174-5342-a4ed-c140c1e90f76/58814879baecd.image.jpg?resize=1777%2C1166"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"66","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/44/d44dfc74-5174-5342-a4ed-c140c1e90f76/58814879baecd.image.jpg?resize=100%2C66"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"197","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/44/d44dfc74-5174-5342-a4ed-c140c1e90f76/58814879baecd.image.jpg?resize=300%2C197"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"672","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/44/d44dfc74-5174-5342-a4ed-c140c1e90f76/58814879baecd.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C672"}}}],"revision":6,"commentID":"9d2ce354-8e1c-5288-96af-01eb46553d4a","body":"

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the midst of installing what are called bulkhead slots at Lock and Dam 15, a preparatory step for what is a relatively rare occurrence: The draining of the lock to conduct more extensive inspections and maintenance.

No plans are being made yet to dewater the lock. That will require funding that is not yet available, Corps officials say. However, over the past five or six years, the Rock Island district of the Corps has been installing bulkhead slots at the dozen locks along the Mississippi River that fall under its jurisdiction so that when funding is available, they'll be ready.

\"In a nutshell, it's basically for routine maintenance and inspection,\" said Matt Coffelt, a project manager at the Corps' Rock Island office.

The slots accommodate bulkheads, large wall-like structures that typically are 110 feet long and weigh about 80,000 pounds. The bulkheads hold back the water, allowing the chamber to be drained and work to be done. Last year, the slots were installed at Lock and Dam 14 in LeClaire.

Dewatering is rare. The last time it happened at Lock and Dam 15 was in 1996. However, some locks in the area have been dewatered recently. Last year, the lock near Fulton, Illinois, was dewatered, removing 10 million gallons of water.

Currently, the lock near New Boston, Illinois, has had the water drained. The contractor on the project there, as well as at Lock and Dam 15, is J.F. Brennan Co. of LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

The lock and dam system was built in the 1930s, Corps officials stress, so ongoing maintenance is important.

Major work to install the slots at the lock between Rock Island and Davenport began in mid-December. Slots are now being installed in the main chamber, and later this spring and summer, they'll go in the auxiliary chamber.

The cost of this project is $6.7 million, said Allen Marshall, a Corps spokesman.

The winter months are slow times for the locks, so that's why the work is being done in the main chamber now. By fall, Corps officials say, they expect the last of the slots to be installed on all the Mississippi locks that fall under its jurisdiction.

"} ]