Governor Chet Culver has asked his fellow Democrats in the legislature to "pause" and allow for more thorough review of labor legislation pending in the Iowa Senate. Culver issued a statement midday today, minutes before Senators began debating a bill which would greatly expand the subjects that may be discussed during contract negotiations for union workers in state and local governments, including public school teachers.
The governor asked senators to schedule a public hearing on the bill before voting on it, but Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, says that’s not going to happen. "I don’t think we ought to have a public hearing on every controversial bill that comes through here," Kibbie says.
Kibbie warns that Culver may be digging his own political grave if he were to veto the bill, as Culver would offend unions which are a key part of the Democratic Party coalition. "I can’t believe that he’ll veto this bill," Kibbie says. "…He’s running on the Democratic ticket, I presume."
Kibbie also rejects complaints which have been raised about the bill. "I don’t think it’s going to cause near as much heartburn out there as the radio ads that are running around the state now (suggest) that this repeals Right to Work Law and this is Fair Share in disguise and this is going to cost all public employees fees," Kibbie says. "There’s none of that in this bill."
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says he has no plans of delaying a vote on the measure. Senators began debating the bill shortly after noon today and a vote is scheduled at six o’clock tonight. In a written statement, Governor Culver said he "respectfully" calls upon the Senate "to apply a little common sense to this important labor-management debate. " Culver said it is "crystal clear more time is necessary for all Iowans to have a chance to better understand this proposed legislation and be more involved in the process."