Sen. Michael Breitbach Column
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By Sen. Michael Breitbach
Week 11 started with a lot of debate. We passed several bipartisan bills on the way to the main bill of the day, Medicaid Expansion. I stayed true to my word; I promised that I would look at both sides of each and every issue. The Senate decided to bring this bill to the floor before the governor had a chance to present his plan. I voted against the bill at this time. President Obama has emphatically stated that our current Medicaid system is broken. Putting additional people on this broken system without reform is wrong. Senator Bolkcom (D) disagrees. He stated that anyone who says the system is broken is “making things up” and is “wrong.” He apparently didn't get the memo from the President. Many of you may be worried, please don't be. The bill did pass and will go forward to the House. This bill will be returned to the Senate for us to look at it again. Medicaid may be our best option, but at least I will have a chance to see the governor’s proposal before my final vote.
Another important bill that was debated this week was the Senate’s version of the education reform bill. My overall feeling about the debate, or lack thereof, was disappointment. Republicans submitted several amendments, and not a single amendment was passed by the body. Nearly all of the amendments were ruled to be nongermane, or not consistent with the title of the bill, and were not even allowed to be debated. They were good additions to the bill that would have helped the students and educators of the state of Iowa. I was also disappointed that most of the Republican amendments were submitted the day of debate. We have had ample time to prepare for this debate, and I would have expected these amendments to be submitted earlier so that they could have been fully considered. The fact of the matter is this: The bill was intended to reform Iowa’s educational system, and yet many good amendments were struck down for not reforming in the way the majority side saw fit. This should have been a bipartisan issue, but yet again politics played their part.
We have had several senators stand and discuss bipartisanship and working together throughout the week. I look forward to seeing more of that in this chamber. Senator Mark Chelgren (R) has scheduled what he is calling a “Nonpartisan Caucus.” He is attempting to create an environment in which senators are able to discuss all topics, regardless of committee placement, and make compromises before bills are ever brought to the floor. I will happily be attending this caucus at noon Thursday (3/28/13). We need both sides to come together for the betterment of the state and its occupants. I fully support Sen. Chelgren and his commitment to working across the aisle. I hope my colleagues from both sides will be joining me.
Your opinions and input are always valued. You can contact me via email at Michael.Breitbach@legis.iowa.gov or on Facebook at the State Senator Michael Breitbach page.