Anti-bullying bill advances in Iowa Senate

Iowa Senate OpeningBy Bob Eschliman


The Iowa Senate took up a few matters of “old business” during the late morning session Tuesday.

First, it adopted Senate File 345, which is part of Gov. Terry Branstad’s comprehensive anti-bullying agenda for 2015. The Senate took up the bill Monday, but hit a stumbling block over language that state Sen. Tony Bisignano (D-Des Moines) said would leave out members of the general public.

With the Senate ready to consider the bill as a whole, Bisignano and SF 345’s floor manager, state Sen. Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids), each offered amendments to deal with that issue.

Bisignano’s amendment, which was withdrawn, would have added “or member of the public” to those who may report an incident of bullying or harassment that may be addressed by schools. Instead, the Senate adopted Hogg’s amendment, which simply allows schools to address any reported incident of bullying or harassment.

SF 345 was adopted on a 43-7 vote.

Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds quickly issued a statement applauding the Senate’s vote. Their statement also referenced a poll conducted in February that showed 73 percent of Iowans support anti-bullying legislation.

“I am pleased that the Iowa Senate today joined Lieutenant Governor Reynolds and me in calling for ending bullying in Iowa,” Branstad said. “Every child in Iowa deserves to go to school in a safe and respectful learning environment. The passage of Senate File 345 will give schools the tools they need to prevent bulling. I’m hopeful that the bill will receive support in the Iowa House and come to my desk for final approval.”

“As a mother and grandmother, I know it’s critically important for Iowa to protect our children from bullying,” Reynolds said. “The simple truth is that bullying is hurtful, and does not support and promote a healthy learning environment.”

CLICK HERE to see video of the debate on SF 345.


Compensation Boards

The Senate also took up Senate File 167, a bill originally authored by Bisignano to substantially change the way county compensation boards operate. An amendment filed by state Sen. David Johnson (R-Ocheyedan), which would have eliminated the boards altogether, was adopted, prompting a quick deferment and a motion to reconsider.

State Sen. Rita Hart (D-Clinton) filed the motion to reconsider. Because the amendment was only a division vote, not a recorded roll call vote, the motion to reconsider was adopted on a voice vote.

Once that amendment was reconsidered, it was placed behind three other amendments from Bisignano. He withdrew the first two amendments, but offered the third, which struck the entire bill following the enacting clause – essentially creating an entirely new bill – and inserted a new provision that prohibits county boards of supervisors from approving separation allowances or severance pay for other county elected officials.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix (R-Shell Rock) requested a recorded roll call vote on the amendment. It was approved on a 42-8 vote. Without further debate, the entire bill, as amended, was adopted unanimously.

CLICK HERE to see video of the action on SF 167.


Other business

The Senate also briefly discussed the merits of Senate File 424, a bill to require lighted tail lights on bicycles operated on Iowa roadways at night. The measure was adopted on a 45-5 vote.

The morning session ended quickly when state Sen. Steve Sodders (D-State Center) asked that Senate File 427 – the “omnibus gun bill” – be deferred until additional amendments could be filed. The Senate stood at ease to await those amendments.