The political bickering continues at the statehouse over Wednesday night’s lop-sided public hearing on pro-union legislation. Republicans complained Democrats announced the hearing last Friday when most lawmakers were away from the capitol and the bill’s union backers were able to quickly take 60 of the 70 available speaking slots.
Now, Democrats accuse Republicans of punishing them by demanding five more public hearings on a variety of bills. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City makes no apologies. "I don’t understand what’s wrong with asking for public input," Rants says.
House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, says Republicans will find longer work days as a result. "If we’re going to have public hearings on every bill, we’re going to start setting them up on Monday mornings or at seven o’clock in the morning during the week," Murphy says. "And if we start falling behind, we’re going to start being here on Fridays."
The Iowa Legislature currently works three and a half days per week. Republicans are asking for public hearings on subjects ranging from all-day preschool to a plan that would inject deer so they do not conceive. Murphy joked yesterday with reporters about having a public hearing on that subject. "I think we’re going to have a lot of bucks showing up, angry at what we’re going," Murphy says.
Rants later offered a pointed response. "We have a deer population problem," Rants says. "Why do the Democrats not want to let the public talk about this with legislators?" Both political parties agree, though, that holding a public hearing about stem cell research is important, and that could be scheduled as early as next week.