Tempers flared at the statehouse when some of the opponents of a pro-union bill were unable to sign up to speak at a public hearing. The bill requires non-union workers to pay fees to the union. With most lawmakers gone from Des Moines last Friday, Representative Rick Olson, a Democrat from Des Moines, scheduled a public hearing for this Wednesday and within a few hours union members had taken 60 of the 70 available slots to speak.
Olson and House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City quibbled about the situation on Monday. “If you’ve gone to any rock concert, sometimes tickets sell out in a hurry,” Olson said. Rants replied: “True, but usually people know when the tickets are going to go on sale, Representative Olson.”
Olson questioned whether Rants was suggesting Olson didn’t follow the rules in setting up the hearing. Rants told Olson he had “followed the rules to the letter,” but Rants said he was sticking up for people who oppose the bill, and wanted their voices heard at the statehouse. Olson has offered to schedule a second public hearing, or alternate pro and con statements at this Wednesday night’s hearing, so opponents could be heard earlier in the evening.
There are also complaints that the hearing was scheduled on Valentine’s Day when some legislators — and potential witnesses — had hoped to spend the evening wooing their sweetheart rather than spending it at the statehouse speaking out on proposed legislation.