Tuesday, February 23, 2021

SSB 1203 would financially penalize Iowa cities that defund police

(Radio Iowa) - A move to withhold state funding from cities or counties that cut budgets for local police and law enforcement has cleared initial review in the Iowa Senate.

“The objective here is that we want to make sure that our communities are safe across Iowa,” said Senator Chris Cournoyer, a Republican from Le Claire, “and there’s a lot of concerns here with some of the movements across the nation with defunding police.”

Robert Palmer of the Iowa League of Cities said the bill is “unnecessary intrusion into local decision making.” Palmer suggested it may prevent towns from entering into less expensive regional agreements for police or sheriff’s department protection.

“We often are talking with our members about how to find efficiencies, how to lower expenditures because it is our belief that is what’s in the interest of the property taxpayer,” Palmer said. “…This bill is incentivizing the retention of an expenditure level.”

No group representing Iowa law enforcement is registered in favor of SSB 1203. A lobbyist for the Iowa Police Chiefs Association says the group has concerns there may be unintended consequences if the bill becomes law. The Iowa Peace Officers Association and the Iowa State Sheriffs’ and Deputies’ Association are registered as undecided on the legislation.

A similar bill will be considered by a House subcommittee early this morning.

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