Back Print

Will future special elections in Iowa be held on just one day each year?

Posted: Thu, Apr 12, 2018 5:00 PM

When the NICC Board of Trustees meets Monday in Calmar, it will consider a resolution to call for a special election on the issuance of up to $39 million in bonds.  It won't be the first special election to be held in recent years, of course.  City of Decorah residents will go to the polls May 1st to decide whether the city should explore the possibility of creating a municipal electric utility.  A special election two years ago authorized the city to look into forming a telecommunications utility.  And there continues to be discussion of a special election to ask Decorah School District voters to approve plans for a new elementary school.

That's why city, NICC, school district and county officials are watching closely to see whether legislation changing the timing of special elections gets passed by the Iowa Senate.  Right now there are four dates during the year when special elections can be held.  But legislation introduced into the Iowa House earlier this winter would require that elections involving bonding could only be held the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of each year—the date of most regular elections.  That could mean multiple bonding referenda on the same ballot.

The bill—House File 2368--passed the Iowa House in February, with Decorah State Representative Michael Bergan voting against it.  The measure was sent to the Iowa Senate, where it was passed out of committee on an 8-6 vote.  That leaves the question of whether the full Senate will take up the measure or whether the bill will die from lack of action before the legislature adjourns for the year—probably in a few weeks.

In the meantime, local officials are contacting state senators, asking them to oppose the measure in order to continue to allow flexibility about when a referendum is put on the ballot.