House bill addresses lagging pay for county attorneys

DES MOINES — A bill ready for debate in the Iowa House would get rid of the legal limits on the salaries of county attorneys.

Republican Representative Brian Lohse  of Bondurant says there’s currently no limit on pay for the county attorneys in Polk and Linn Counties, but the other 97 can’t be paid more than a judge.  “Under current law, salaries of county attorneys are limited and tied to that of a district court judge,” Lohse says. “Salary must be between 45% and 100% of the judge’s pay.”

Lohse says getting rid of those caps will help counties recruit and retain lawyers in the county attorneys offices, especially in rural areas.  “Also allowing them to potentially earn more than the judge in front of whom they’re practicing,” Lohse says. “That just highlights the problem with judicial pay that we need to remedy.”

House Judiciary Committee chairman Steven Holt of Denison agrees.  “We definitely need to deal with judicial pay, the sooner the better,” Holt said. “Our judicial pay is under everybody around us and that needs to change, without a doubt.”

Iowa judges are paid less than judges in every state that borders Iowa. Iowa judges make $16,000 less per year than South Dakota judges. The salaries for judges in Nebraska are $38,000 higher.