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Vox Hawkeye A Study in the Intellectual Call for Open Government (and How One State Heeded It)
Unformatted Document Text:  bargaining sessions closed. 180 To be sure, that this non-change passed the House is not too surprising. The question, then, would be its fate, and that of its brethren, in the Senate. Surprisingly, the resistance that met the bill upon its reintroduction in the Senate the next day was comparatively tepid and the amendments to the bill were accepted by a vote of 26-13, with the bill itself approved by an even larger margin, 30-9. 181 To be sure, several senators continued to express dismay at the degree to which the collective bargaining process could continue to be shielded from general public scrutiny. Senate Minority Leader Calvin Hultman (R-Red Oak), for one, opined that “(s)omehow we’re not concerned about the millions and millions of dollars spent at every level of government in Iowa.” 182 He continued that “collective bargaining deals with public money to pay public employees, yet ‘the only people who can’t be there is the public.’” 183 Nevertheless, the seed of merit within his protestations failed to find purchase and the bill, after four months of bouncing from one chamber to the other and being the subject of much reportage and editorializing, was finally on its way to the governor’s desk, where it would ultimately be signed and become the law in Iowa effective January 1, 1979. Perhaps not surprisingly, the mere act of signing the bill into law did not extinguish all the controversy that had theretofore surrounded it. In fact, one major conflict seemed to persist between the forces of the “true believers” (those who championed unbridled openness) and the “rock-ribbed” (those who demanded temperance) with respect to the act’s coverage. On the one hand, advocates such as Strentz were adamant in insisting that the new law be made to apply to “an advisory committee appointed by a public agency.” 184 For Strentz, and others, any other formulation was merely a recipe for mischief. 180 Ibid. The specific provision of Iowa law relating to this matter is substantively governed by the provisions of Iowa Code Ch. 20.17(3): “Negotiating sessions, strategy meetings of public employers or employee organizations, mediation and the deliberative process of arbitrators shall be exempt from the provisions of chapter 21. However, the employee organization shall present its initial bargaining position to the public employer at the first bargaining session. The public employer shall present its initial bargaining position to the employee organization at the second bargaining session, which shall be held no later than two weeks following the first bargaining session. Both sessions shall be open to the public and subject to the provisions of chapter 21. Hearings conducted by arbitrators shall be open to the public.” 181 Bonnie Wittenburg, “New Open Meetings Law Sent to Ray for Approval,” The Des Moines Register, 29 April 1978, 7A . 182 Ibid. 183 Ibid. 184 Herbert Strentz, letter to E. Kevin Kelly, 22 December 1980. (It might be recalled that Kelly was an original member of the subcommittee that composed the initial draft of the new open meetings law, and Strentz was writing

Authors: stepanek, steve.
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bargaining sessions closed.
   To be sure, that this non-change passed the House is not too surprising. 
The question, then, would be its fate, and that of its brethren, in the Senate.
Surprisingly, the resistance that met the bill upon its reintroduction in the Senate the next day was 
comparatively tepid and the amendments to the bill were accepted by a vote of 26-13, with the bill itself 
approved by an even larger margin, 30-9.
    To be sure, several senators continued to express dismay at 
the degree to which the collective bargaining process could continue to be shielded from general public 
scrutiny.  Senate Minority Leader Calvin Hultman (R-Red Oak), for one, opined that “(s)omehow we’re 
not concerned about the millions and millions of dollars spent at every level of government in Iowa.”
He continued that “collective bargaining deals with public money to pay public employees, yet ‘the only 
people who can’t be there is the public.’
  Nevertheless, the seed of merit within his protestations failed 
to find purchase and the bill, after four months of bouncing from one chamber to the other and being the 
subject of much reportage and editorializing, was finally on its way to the governor’s desk, where it 
would ultimately be signed and become the law in Iowa effective January 1, 1979.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the mere act of signing the bill into law did not extinguish all the 
controversy that had theretofore surrounded it.  In fact, one major conflict seemed to persist between the 
forces of the “true believers” (those who championed unbridled openness) and the “rock-ribbed” (those 
who demanded temperance) with respect to the act’s coverage.  On the one hand, advocates such as 
Strentz were adamant in insisting that the new law be made to apply to “an advisory committee appointed 
by a public agency.
  For Strentz, and others, any other formulation was merely a recipe for mischief.
180
 Ibid. The specific provision of Iowa law relating to this matter is substantively governed by the provisions of 
Iowa Code Ch. 20.17(3): “Negotiating sessions, strategy meetings of public employers or employee organizations, 
mediation and the deliberative process of arbitrators shall be exempt from the provisions of chapter 21.  However, 
the employee organization shall present its initial bargaining position to the public employer at the first bargaining 
session.  The public employer shall present its initial bargaining position to the employee organization at the second 
bargaining session, which shall be held no later than two weeks following the first bargaining session.  Both sessions 
shall be open to the public and subject to the provisions of chapter 21.  Hearings conducted by arbitrators shall be 
open to the public.” 
181
 Bonnie Wittenburg, “New Open Meetings Law Sent to Ray for Approval,” The Des Moines Register, 29 April 
1978, 7A
.
182
 Ibid.
183
 Ibid.
184
 Herbert Strentz, letter to E. Kevin Kelly, 22 December 1980. (It might be recalled that Kelly was an original 
member of the subcommittee that composed the initial draft of the new open meetings law, and Strentz was writing 


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