The Iowa House today gave final legislative approval to the idea of changing the name of the Iowa Department of Elder Affairs to the Department on Aging.

Representative Dave Heaton, a 68-year-old Republican from Mount Pleasant, said he’s "offended" by the agency’s new acronym — D.O.A.  "It is my hope that there will be some way that they can take this acronym D.O.A. and not have it there, perhaps shorten it to D.A.," Heaton said. "But you can’t have an acronym like this when you’re referring to elderly people."

Representative Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, suggested the agency’s managers may choose to use the full name.  "I’m not sure if they’re going to be called D.O.A. I think Representative Heaton raised a good point and so I’ll be talking to the department," Petersen said. "Maybe they’ll be D.A. Maybe we just won’t have an acronym for them. That’d be nice in state government, wouldn’t it?"

Petersen said the name change is being made to conform with federal agencies on aging. "And people that are 60-plus in Iowa I think are deciding that they don’t necessarily want to be called elders," the 38-year-old Petersen said, with a laugh.

The Iowa Senate had endorsed the name change earlier and this morning the House endorsed the idea on a 67-29 vote.  The department intends to buy a new sign printed with its new name, at a cost of about $500, but managers say they’ll use up all the paper and envelopes which bear the name Iowa Departnent of Elder Affairs before ordering new supplies.

The governor’s office has not made a public statement of support or opposition to the name change.  Click on the audio link below to listen to today’s House debate of the bill.

AUDIO: House debate 12:00 MP3