Unopposed senators look forward


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Two local state senators will continue into another term without having to worry about the polls on Nov. 4.

Democratic state Sens. Joe Bolkcom and Bob Dvorsky have both been in their positions since the 2002 election, and since then, they have faced little opposition in elections.

They will both run unopposed this year, which Bolkcom said could be both good and bad.

“It’s always nice to have an opponent,” he said. “It provides an opportunity to talk to voters about issues and learning from voters what’s on their minds.”

Bolkcom said even though there is no competition this election, he still gets opportunities in talking to constituents every day through his office, and as a Democrat, he benefits from a heavily Democratic Johnson County.

Running without an opponent has allowed the two to look past this year’s election into the next legislative session, which could bring a lot of progress, Bolkcom said.

“I hope that we bring some certainty to public university funding; I think we can accomplish a third-year tuition freeze,” he said.

Also related to public university funding, Bolkcom said the regents’ performance-based funding based on the number of in-state students was “ill-conceived” and “disrupting.”

Dvorsky said that in-state students shouldn’t be the only measure used in a funding formula.

“We really have to figure out that formula,” he said. “We want to make sure the regents take into account all types of students.”

Mike Moore, a Republican running in the contested Senate District 39 race, agreed that a tuition freeze is something that should be done.

“I’m all for freezing tuition, just need to get it in line with funding and look at the total bill,” he said.

Beyond that, Bolkcom said complete tax reform is something he believes is not being talked about enough. Getting people to pay a larger share of their income as they earn more just makes sense, he said.

Another big issue for Bolkcom is a full-fledged medical marijuana bill, making progress from SF2360, which made use of one type of medical marijuana legal for those with intractable epilepsy.

“We want to make sure that chronically ill Iowans don’t have to leave their homes to get the medicine they need,” he said. “We can figure this out in a restricted, controlled way and meet the health-care needs of a growing number of Iowans.”

Dvorsky said one topic not making headlines that requires more attention is human trafficking and elder abuse. He put forward a bill that worked toward stopping elder abuse, he said, but more can be done.

Dvorsky said he’s also looking forward to the energy a new team of legislators can bring to Des Moines.

“Every new session is exciting; working with new people in the Iowa House and Iowa Senate is a cause for optimism,” he said.

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