Dear Editor:

Are you a teacher, a city or county employee, a DOT or DHS worker and you voted for Rep. Mike Bergan? I’m betting you didn’t think he would vote to gut a collective bargaining agreement that was thoughtfully passed in a bipartisan way led by Gov. Robert Ray in 1974.  

I’m sure when he came knocking on your door last summer he didn’t tell you that he would vote to strip your bargaining rights in an effort to neuter unions. And do it in the most unprecedented way, by stifling debate and with no collaboration. I’m sure you didn’t think that he would also vote for a paltry school aid increase of 1.1 percent that will lead to larger class sizes and reduced programs.

Are you the parent of a college student? Rep. Bergan voted for stripping over $110 million out of the budget, directly affecting scholarships of many students and making college more expense at state schools. Regents will have little choice but to raise tuition. This will come out of your pocket. Another bill has been introduced to allow anyone on a college campus to carry a weapon, including guns, knives, switchblades and tasers. You might want to ask Rep. Bergan if he thinks that’s a good idea.

Are you a proponent of the First Amendment? Then you might want to ask Rep. Bergan how he plans to vote on SF 254. This little gem says that if you are a licensed healthcare or mental healthcare provider you may not ask a patient about their possession or ownership of firearms. Seems a tiny bit odd that a mental health counselor shouldn’t be able to ask their suicidal patient about weapons, right?

Are you a taxpayer? Ask Rep. Bergan why he is voting to use $3 million of state money we don’t have just to punish Planned Parenthood (SF2). Republicans are on a witch hunt and they’re using your money to fund it. In rural Iowa, we already suffer a shortage of services.  Now with the closing of NEICAC Family Planning Clinics in our area, it’s just another reminder that Republicans do not care about access to services. They are more concerned about closing the doors of any agency that does not align with their agenda. With these reductions in services statewide, you might want to ask Rep. Bergan if he plans to increase funding to combat the increase in teen pregnancy and STDs that will surely follow this disastrous course of action.

Do you agree that Iowa should license people like mental health counselors, social workers, athletic trainers, dietitians, funeral directors, and respiratory care practitioners? Then ask Rep. Bergan about HSB 138. It seems some in Des Moines don’t think we need all these licenses. But have they thought through the consequences? An insurance company can refuse to pay if a service is not provided by a licensed practitioner. What you may hear is that this bill is already dead and don’t worry. Beware. Nothing in this session will be dead until they gavel out.

Are you a voter? Ask Rep. Bergan about the Voter ID bill. While it seems perfectly reasonable to require an ID to vote, they are also adding amendments to the bill to make it harder to vote. By reducing the number of early voting days and shortening hours on polling day, more barriers are being added to limit voting. 

Ask Rep. Bergan how does limiting voting days and hours increase the integrity of our elections. Ask Rep. Bergan why we need to spend $1M when last year Iowa reported 10 possible invalid votes out of 1.6 million. The county auditors have already expressed their opposition to the bill. These are the people on the front lines, why aren’t we trusting them? This is about more than just showing an ID on polling day.

And while we’re at it, you might also want to ask Rep. Bergan about this: During the recent legislative forum held in Decorah, Rep. Bergan justified his vote on collective bargaining by saying that local governmental  entities would be in control of making sure they hired and retained good employees by offering fair wages and benefits.  He said they wanted to give this control back to school boards, cities, and counties.  

Yet there is another bill pending that does the opposite.  Several cities and counties have begun to pass their own ordinances to raise the minimum wage and protect workers. The Republicans have decided that they don’t want the locals to have that much control, so they need to pass a state law that prohibits any local entity from passing any minimum wage laws. Which is it? Local control or not, Rep. Bergan?

You can ask Senator Mike Breitbach all of these same questions. But you won’t like the answers. He’s already been bought and paid for and he’s been waiting for his chance to enact an extreme agenda in the Senate. 

But I am so surprised by the position Rep. Bergan has taken on these issues. I have had many conversations in the past several weeks with nurses, social workers, teachers, neighbors and friends that, like me, thought vulnerable children and families would have a voice in Rep. Bergan. Everyone I have talked with feels betrayed and deceived. Clearly, Rep. Bergan has chosen party over the people of northeast Iowa.

Melanie Tietz