During the second session of the 85th Iowa General Assembly, it appears legislators have been getting along swimmingly. The budget number was agreed behind closed doors, in what seems like record time. And if supplemental state aid for our schools wasn’t agreed within 30 days of the governor’s budget proposal, as required by state law… well, the school districts are getting used to that and it was a minor bump on the road to the 2014 midterms.
There were a few blips on the radar. There was the failed telemedicine bill, which passed the House, but from the beginning had no chance in the Iowa Senate. There was HF 2381, the gun suppression bill, that also passed the House with some progressive legislators, notably Rep. Mary Wolfe of Clinton, voting for it. It’s hope ended when Senator Rob Hogg, chair of the judiciary committee, said he didn’t plan to take up any gun legislation this session. In a bicameral legislature, where the consent of both chambers is required, any citizen who was taught the basics of our government should have known these bills were going nowhere, even if they piqued some interest in the media and among the uneducated. A basic lack of understanding of how government works could explain why these bills moved at all.
Is hope for the right wingers lost?
To get an answer, I went to Google and came up with an Iowa Gun Owners alert dated March 13 calling for gun owners to contact their state representative and ask for a vote on House File 2284, which, according to their web site is the “Constitutional Carry” bill that would make firearms permits optional in the state of Iowa. “The Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen. He, above all the rest, can move bills at his leisure,” the author wrote. “Let him know that you’re tired of the excuses, the rhetoric, and the inaction. Tell him now is the time to move this legislation forward,” he added.
If the bill missed the second funnel, can it still move? The answer is yes by invoking House Rule 60 which under certain conditions, including a super majority of 60 House members in favor, could suspend the rules for a vote.
If we go into the wayback machine, it is a short trip to 2010 when Republicans wanted to recruit seven Democrats to vote with them to invoke Rule 60 and advance a bill that would allow the people of Iowa to vote on an amendment to the state’s constitution that would define marriage as the union between one man and one woman. The measure failed.
Fast forward to 2011, when former Representative Kim Pearson mounted an attempt to force a vote by using Rule 60, to give fetuses the full rights of U.S. citizens. She was unable to muster her own caucus around the failed effort.
So what is the point of this Republican madness? Don’t ask me. I am a progressive. It may have something to do with the low regard the Republican House leadership holds for moving on supplemental state aid for our schools.
In any case, have we heard the last of guns, gays and abortion as the 85th Iowa General Assembly fades into the history books? I don’t know that either, but rest assured, it is not too late for them to appear on the radar. If they do, one hopes the people of Iowa realize that elections matter, and are willing to roll up their sleeves and clean out the clown car that the Iowa House of Representatives will have become under Speaker Paulsen.
Elections matter. However, what matters more is the results produced for all of the people of Iowa. The special interest legislation mentioned above represents the nadir of social progress, something that matters to each of us, regardless of political party. We can all do better.