01/15/15

As we approach the start of Iowa’s 86th General Assembly I would like to write of this year’s elections and how our agenda may be affected.

Much has been made of the Republican steamroller that moved across the nation this midterm cycle. What is less mentioned is that the electorate, mainly the Democrats, just stepped aside and let it roll. It was less of a popular revolution and more of a popular revulsion. As has been written before, when you do not vote..you are in effect voting for the eventual winner.

I suspect the Republicans will overplay their hand (as both parties will often do) and the Democrats will answer in kind in 2016.

Nationally, the election may have a very detrimental effect on the American labor force. Note that I did not specifically mention labor unions. While the Republican platform and agenda includes dismantling organized labor, the end result of any successful measures will have a negative impact on all working Americans. There have been reports of expected anti-labor initiatives around the country but their success is not foretold. Not all Republicans march to the anti-labor drumbeat and we thank them for their support.

In Iowa we can mostly expect the status quo. We still have a split assembly. The republicans did pick up 2 or 3 seats in the House, but this will not likely affect their tilt. As for the Governor’s office, I anticipate a very Republican management for the first 2 years and then a more centrist style as Governor Branstad grooms Lt. Governor Reynolds for a run on her own in 2018. Yes, I expect Branstad to retire after, or even before, this term.

The Iowa SMART-TD will have the same safety-centered legislative agenda as before with the addition of a two person crew bill and possibly a hit and run and railroad trespass bill if I find support from the carriers. I am hopeful that we will find bi-partisan sponsorship on the two person bill and I will be calling on our entire membership to rally in support, much as we did when a proposed “one man” agreement was offered for ratification on BNSF. It is amazing what the power of collaboration can accomplish and I hope you are there again when the time comes.

Jim Garrett
Director