Democrats in the Iowa House have rejected a Republican proposal that would have forbid House members from debating and taking votes between midnight and 8 a.m.
“Now, I think we should all be in the business of good governance,” says Representative Peter Cownie, a West Des Moines Republican who was the proposal’s main sponsor. “And this only makes sense.”
According to Cownie, House lawmakers were at work for 44 of 48 hours on the last weekend of the 2009 legislative session. Cownie says ending debate at midnight and not allowing debate to start before eight a.m. is “practical.”
“This is what Iowans want in this day and age,” Cownie says.
Representative Richard Anderson, a Republican from Clarinda, agrees that when the clock strikes midnight, legislators should stop making decisions.
“Twelve to eight is not a good time for we ordinary, mortal legislators to function,” Anderson says.
But House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines urged his fellow legislators to reject the restriction.
“It is a good goal to try to have debate occur in a reasonable time frame,” McCarthy says. “However given the culture and the tradition of the Iowa House and consistent with rules that have been in place under both Republican and Democratic administrations, it’s important not to unduly box us in on times that may go past midnight.”
The House voted 49 to 45 to reject the idea of cutting off debate at midnight. The discussion occurred as the House adopted rules which outline general operating procedures for the House.