The speaker of the Iowa House says he has not talked with five fellow Democrats who voted "no" on a union-backed bill on Friday.
House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, kept the voting machine open all weekend so it was frozen in time with 50 "yes" votes, one short of what’s needed to pass a bill. "We were letting those groups that want the bill to lobby people to see if they could pick up that one extra vote," Murphy says.
The bill that’s in limbo would require a county’s "prevailing wage" be paid to those who work on construction projects that are financed by tax dollars — on the state, county, city and school district levels. "When you’re talking about raising people’s wages, especially during tough economic hard times, I don’t see what the problem with that is," Murphy says.
Murphy plans to shut the voting machine down at one o’clock this afternoon and then House committees will be able to start meeting. "I thought it was important to give this bill as long of a possible hearing as I could," Murphy says.
On Friday evening, Murphy asked the bill’s floor manager to stick around Des Moines so he could pass off the duty of sitting in the chair when he needed to sleep or take care of other business. But about half of the Democrats in the House stuck around the statehouse this weekend to take a turn sitting in the speaker’s chair. As a result, Murphy looks well-rested on Monday morning. "I’ve been here most of the weekend, but two of the three nights I’ve been able to sleep in my legislative bed — not my home bed (in Dubuque); my home bed’s the best — but where I stay here in Des Moines, I’ve been able to sleep the last two nights there," Murphy says.
While Murphy will announce the bill has failed early this afternoon, he plans to employ a parliamentary move which means the bill can easily be brought up again for House debate — just in case one of the five Democrats who voted no changes their mind. "I’m still keeping my fingers crossed," Murphy says, "but we’ll see what happens."