Bergan Report

By: News Release
Apr 7th, 2017

Greetings from the State House,

I enjoyed a visit from Deputy Tim Felton and the DARE students from Winneshiek County. They participated in a tour of the Capitol and a visit to the House Chamber. The trip was a wonderful experience for the students.

My experience as a newly elected legislator has been challenging, particularly in working with legislation dealing with individuals’ rights. The past two weeks have been the most difficult for me in the deliberation of the issues concerning the competing rights of a woman and those of an unborn child. Over the past five decades the matter continues to be fervently debated in courtrooms and statehouses across our nation. I voted with a majority of the House on a bill that prohibits abortion at twenty weeks postfertilization age, a threshold that has been adopted in fifteen other States and upheld by the courts in eleven of those States. This legislation will align our statute with existing civil law established by our federal court system in other jurisdictions.

The bill is a culmination of compromise on positions of competing rights of the mother and the unborn child; a compromise that I hope proponents on both sides of the issue consider a reasonable step forward. The amendments made to the Senate bill removed the imposition of felony criminal penalties against women having abortions at 20 weeks. The bill, with changes, will now be returned to the Senate for their consideration.

I have listened to passionate arguments. Compelling statements have been made to establish a right to life for unborn children at conception. An alternative position has been taken to establish a right to life with the detection of a heartbeat (at approximately six weeks). Opponents to these positions have insisted on the priority of a woman’s right in making decisions on matters affecting pregnancy. There continues to be strong agreement to work to reduce the number of abortions in Iowa as well as to address the health and welfare of the mother and unborn child. I will work with my colleagues on this common ground as we move forward in developing our policies and budget.

The budget will dominate our work in the Legislature during the next two weeks. Budget targets were released Wednesday, after agreements were reached between House and Senate leadership and the Governor. The FY18 budget will result in spending reductions in nearly all areas, with the exception of K-12 funding, which has already been granted an increase in spending of $40 million. I expect efforts will be made to prioritize funding to address water quality.

Since 1886, there has been ongoing recognition of Pioneer legislators and honorary members. This week former Representatives Roger Thomas (Clayton) and Steve Falck (Fayette) were honored for their service and added to the rolls as Pioneer legislators. I was pleased to have both former area legislators present for this honor during the joint session of the House and Senate.

Very truly yours,

Representative Michael Bergan