DES MOINES -- Gov. Terry Branstad, as one of the first official acts of his fifth administration, made good on his campaign promises Friday by rescinding executive orders dealing with voting rights for felons and project labor agreements enacted by his Democratic predecessors.
Hours after being sworn in as Iowa governor, Branstad issued executive order 69, which rescinded similar action taken by now-former Gov. Culver back in February 2010 that mandated the use of project labor agreements.
The Republican governor's new replacement order prohibits project labor agreements to be used for projects involving state funds and applies to any and all public works projects for which a construction contract has not yet been entered into by a state agency.
"Project labor agreements have increased the costs of public works projects, chilled the competitive bidding environment for public works projects and, thereby, caused detriment to the Iowa taxpayer and our citizenship," according to executive order 69. The order also contended the proliferation of PLAs has "impacted the essence and spirit of the competitive bidding process for state-funded projects and has infringed upon Iowa's right to work law."
Branstad also issued executive order 70, which rescinded former Gov. Tom Vilsack's July 4, 2005, executive order that established a process that gave voting rights and right to hold public office to felons and those who committed aggravated misdemeanors. An estimated 100,000 Iowa ex-felons have had their rights restored since Vilsack issued his order.
Earlier this week, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz - who also serves as Iowa's election commissioner - asked Branstad to nullify Vilsack's order allowing felons in Iowa who have served their sentences to have their voting rights restored. Under Branstad's action, Iowa felons again will be required to petition the governor to have voting rights restored.
"The process has been subverted," said Schultz, a Republican who defeated first-term Democrat Michael Mauro in November. "I'm asking the governor-elect that when he takes office to repeal the fast track. No one is saying if a felon is rehabilitated they cannot receive voting rights."
Some Iowa groups had petitioned Branstad asking him to reconsider his position to nullify the order.