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Legislative Town Hall

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At least two hundred people crowded into a room at the Sioux City Public Museum on Saturday morning to talk to their legislators.   Democratic house representatives Chris Hall and Tim Kacena and Republican Jim Carlin talked about the recent passage of the controversial collective bargaining measure.  Carlin said that Chapter 20 will change the way public employees bargain for raises and benefits, but health insurance could possibly become more affordable.

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“It could actually enlarge the risk pool and it could actually result in lower costs for you.  Not sure what red means, but I take it that means you’re unhappy, well, we want to be happy.”

Attendees waved red cards when they didn’t agree with the speaker and green cards when they did.   Democrat Chris Hall talked about the dangers of the collective bargaining bill and the Governor Terry Branstad’s continued cost cutting.  He said Branstad sent out a press release late Friday that called for more cuts to higher education.

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Sioux City Dem. Representative Chris Hall talks about the minimum wage bill

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“If you’ve already cut community colleges and higher education and you’re cutting them another two or three million dollars before June 30th between now and June 30th, you have to find those dollars, it affects our workforce, it affects our economy, it affects all your futures.”

Hall and Kacena said that the state should raise the minimum wage to help working families. Carlin said the wage should be raised, but not higher than the consumer price index.

Several costituents mentioned the minimum wage bill.  The bill would set a state minimum wage and preempt wage increases already passed four Iowa counties.  Hall and Kacena oppose the bill.  Kacena said it’s another example of the state overriding local control.

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Sioux City Democratic Representative talks about the minimum wage bill

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“We do need local control on most of these issues, and so we can protect the people and not let a bunch of people in Des Moines, a very few, select people, I should say, dictate how we should treat others. (applause).”

Republican Jim Carlin said he also supported raising the minimum wage, under certain conditions.

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Sioux City Rep. Representative talks about the minimum wage bill

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“I think the minimum should be raised now, reflecting the increased cost of living. (Applause) But having said that, I don’t think we should do what Seattle did, to raise it at a level that can’t be sustained by small businesses.”

Republican state senator Rick Bertrand was not at the forum, or the forum held last month.  Several of the attendees Saturday criticized him for not showing up.

The forum was sponsored by the Sioux City League of Women Voters.  The next legislative forum is slated for Saturday, March 25th.

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