One of the 40 House Democrats who walked out of the statehouse today says it’s a protest because Republicans broke their word.
During an interview with KDEC Radio in Decorah, Representative Brian Quirk said on Tuesday Republicans gave Democrats a list of bills that would be debated in the House today, but then GOP leaders added two gun-related bills to the list this morning.
“This is unprecedented and this has never happened before,” Quirk said. “You always give your word and your word is your bond and, when that’s violated, you lose that trust.”
Quirk said House rules for debate would have made it difficult, if not impossible, for Democrats to propose changes in the bills today.
“So they’re basically blind-siding us,” Quirk said of the Republicans.
Quirk also said Democrats need more time to meet in private to review the two proposals, one of which seeks to add a gun-rights amendment to the state constitution.
“That way we can make an educated decision when we’re voting,” Quirk said. “Otherwise, you’re just taking a shot in the dark.”
Democrats “are still meeting to discuss” when they may return to the statehouse, according to Quirk, who suggested an assurance from Republicans that the bills will be tabled would resolve the matter.
“Right now, everybody’s kind of sitting around and trying to let cooler heads prevail,” Quirk said.
House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, the top Republican in the legislature, disputes the idea Republicans misled Democrats.
“That’s ridiculous,” Paulsen told reporters. “That’s absolutely ridiculous.”
Paulsen said both pieces of legislation had cleared a House committee and have been on the list of bills that are eligible for debate.
“Leaving the capitol doesn’t sound to me like what Iowans expect us to do,” Paulsen said.
It’s unclear where House Democrats have gone, so at present it can be called an “undisclosed location.”
(Reporting by Darin Swenson of KDEC in Decorah & Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson in Des Moines.)