Republicans in the Iowa Legislature have refused to help unemployed Iowans and struggling communities. Democrats asked Republicans earlier this month to help request a special session to override Governor Branstad’s line-item veto of legislation prohibiting the closure of local Iowa Workforce Offices. While all Democrats have signed the letter, not a single Republican in the House or Senate acted to keep the workforce offices open.
“The Legislature worked together to keep our local workforce offices open and it’s extremely disappointing that Republicans have refused to help Iowans,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. “In tough economic times, we should not be closing doors on Iowans looking for work and on small business looking to hire more workers.”
“We extended a bipartisan olive branch to the Republicans. They took it and instead broke it over the backs of the middle class, delivering yet another blow to the 100,000 Iowans currently out of work,” said House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Governor Branstad line-item vetoed language in Senate File 517 last month that required the state to maintain the current number of Workforce Development field offices. In his veto message, the Governor said he intends to close at least 36 Workforce Offices around the state and replace them with so-called library kiosks.
Democrats called for a special session under Article III, section 2, of the Constitution of the State of Iowa provides that members of the legislature may convene a special session if two-thirds of each house signs a petition. A veto override also requires support from two-thirds of each chamber. However, no Republicans returned the letter calling for a special session so the petition did not reach the two-thirds required in both chambers.
“Republicans turned their backs on Iowans wanting to get back to work and small communities with high unemployment,” said Senator Bill Dotzler, chair of the Senate Economic Development Budget Subcommittee. “Visiting a web site at the local library won’t help workers get training or connect businesses with the skilled workers they need.”
“This is the place where Iowans who want to go back to work or get the training they need to land a good-paying job begin their search and where local businesses can find skilled Iowans who fit their needs,” said Representative Kirsten Running-Marquardt, ranking member of the House Economic Development Budget Subcommittee. “This Republican plan is especially a slap in the face for rural Iowans who are trying to access employers and redevelop their skills.”
A table of the Workforce Offices that will close due to Republicans and Governor Branstad is below.
|Office Location||County||June Unemployment (%)|
|Fort Madison or Keokuk||Lee||8.8|
|Storm Lake||Buena Vista||5.3|
Note: July unemployment numbers are not yet available.