A 24-hour-long stalemate in the Iowa Senate that blocked debate on labor legislation has ended. The bill would greatly expand the union bargaining rights of government workers and it passed the House on Thursday.
Shortly before noon on Friday, Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs emerged from talks with the top Republican in the Senate. "As you know, the Senate has been at loggerheads, let’s call it, for the last couple of days…The Republicans had asked that we postpone this ’til Monday so what we did today is we talked about that and we have agreed to wait ’til Monday," Gronstal told reporters. "We will convene at noon on Monday and we will proceed to conclusion on this bill by 6 p.m. on Monday."
The 20 Republicans in the 50-member Senate went on what Democrats referred to as a "work stoppage" by going into a closed-door meeting and refusing to emerge, a move which blocked Senate consideration of the bill. Senate Republican Leader Ron Wieck’s goal was to delay the debate ’til Monday. "I think at the end of the day the most important thing is that the people of Iowa won and I believe that the Senate won because we had an issue that, as Senator Gronstal said, we were at loggerhead on and we were able to work our way through that," Wieck said in a joint news conference with Gronstal.
Yet Republicans vigorously oppose the bill and Democrats, by and large, support it. "The outcome has not changed," Gronstal told reporters. "This was all a question of process."
As for whether Democrat Governor Chet Culver backs it, Gronstal has a prediction. "I think it’s exceedingly likely that the governor would sign this legislation," Gronstal said. Over the past few days, the governor’s staff has said merely that Culver will review the bill when it gets to his desk and make a decision then.