The Iowa Senate started its Tuesday with a half-hour episode of partisan rants. Republicans like Senate GOP Leader Bill Dix were riled when Democrats criticized Republican Governor Terry Branstad.
“Governor Branstad’s not present in the chamber to defend himself,” Dix said.
Senator Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, scoffed.
“When Governor Branstad has a press conference…he gets to say all sorts of slanderous things about other people,” Hogg said.
Senator David Johnson, a Republican from Ocheyedan, suggested Hogg should save the rhetoric for the campaign trail.
“We’re spending every morning making speeches,” Johnson said, “too many of them, quite frankly, that are angry.”
Hogg replied: “I know it gets the Republicans really excited when I’m feeling really strongly about an issue, so now I’m going to adopt the monotone voice that you prefer…monotone Rob Hogg.”
Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix accused Hogg and other Democrats of doing the bidding of “union bosses” by resisting GOP calls to disclose the reasons state workers get fired.
“I think we really need to be asking the question and continuing to ask the question: ‘Why is it that Democrats seem not to want the whole story?'” Dix asked.
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal then challenged Dix.
“The Senator is suggesting improper motives, clearly suggesting improper motives,” Gronstal said.
Dix replied: “I’m stating an opinion, senator.”
A few moments later, the Republican leader and Democratic Senator Dick Dearden of Des Moines tangled.
“You accuse the Democrats of caving into union bosses. I want to know your definition of a union boss,” Dearden said.
Dix replied: Senator, it just seems to me that when you begin to connect the dots, that Democrats have been clearly supported by the unions and you just continue to follow the leadership that they are asking you to provide.”
Dearden said: “The leadership then, senator, would be the leadership that we elect as union members.”
Dix soon interjected: “The union bosses.”
Dearden concluded: “Maybe you should join ‘Dancing With The Stars’ the way you dance around my question.”
Another Democrat spent five minutes talking about the history of the union movement. Republican Senator Mark Chelgren of Ottumwa spent about two minutes reminiscing about his first term as a senator.
“I wanted to have an opportunity before the session was over to express to my colleagues how much I have enjoyed working with them and have truly met some people who care about the state of Iowa,” he said. “At the same time, there is a dysfunction.”
Chelgren joked it was too bad a Nigerian judge who specializes in conflict resolution didn’t stay in the Iowa Senate to referee today’s shouting match. The delegation from Nigeria was quickly shuttled out of the Senate in the middle of the senate’s floor fight. Legislators have been pushing to adjourn the 2014 session this week, but neither the House nor the Senate had taken a single vote on a bill by mid-afternoon.