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Bill reducing Iowa’s boards and commissions on Reynolds’ desk

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(The Center Square) – The Iowa Senate gave final approval of a bill Friday that reduces the number of the state’s boards and commissions and reduces the size of others.

Senate File 2385 is the result of a study committee that worked to decide which boards were no longer necessary. The board’s recommendation was to eliminate 111 boards. Lawmakers reduced that number to 68 in their final bill.

One of the boards eliminated is the Area Education Agency Advisory Group. Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill earlier this year that puts the state’s AEAs under the supervision of the Iowa Department of Education. The bill creates a new board, the Iowa Special Education Council. The only other new board is the Commission of Deaf Services and Dual Party Relay Council.

The bill also reduces the number of members of several boards, including the Iowa Board of Education which goes from 10 members to nine.

Sen. Janice Weiner, D-Iowa City, said the bill went too far and ignored what Iowans told lawmakers. One example is the Department of Human Rights and the Human Rights Commission which was changed in a House amendment, she said.

“This bill would dramatically change the nature of the commission and the authority structure of the Iowa Civil Rights Act,” Weiner said. “The Iowa Civil Rights Act vests authority in an independent commission removed from politics. With this amendment, we will dismantle that authority and assign it to a single political appointee. It strips the commission of all meaningful authority and converts the commissioners into advisors to the director.”

The State Government Efficiency Review Committee, which is created by the bill, will review the boards and commissions every four years.

Democrats voted against the bill, which is now on Reynolds’ desk.

“Government works for the people, not the other way around. We should be consistently reviewing and improving the quality of services we provide,” Reynolds said in a statement. “The bill headed to my desk today is a continuation of that work. It eliminates unnecessary and redundant boards and commissions, returning accountability to the people of Iowa through their elected representatives. Iowa’s boards and commissions have never been comprehensively reviewed and adjusted for effectiveness, only growing in numbers and scope over our state’s history. Today, we reverse that trend.”

Last year, Reynolds championed a massive alignment bill, which also cut the number of cabinet departments from 37 to 16. About 500 unfilled positions were eliminated. The changes are projected to save the state about $214 million over the next four years, the governor previously said.

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