The debate over the collective bargaining bill will end at noon today in the Iowa House and 2:00 PM in the Iowa Senate, after Republicans passed on a party line vote a “time certain” measure to finish then. House Democrats offered amendments to extend debate until next week, which failed, and then to extend it simply to tomorrow, which also failed.
Ending debate in such a manner is rarely used. Democrats quickly accused Republicans of wanting to get home early for the weekend, despite the huge outcry across the state over the bill.
The Des Moines Register reported that many school districts are racing against the clock to finalize contract agreements before the legislation is passed (though the new measure may nullify many of them anyway). Republicans’ swiftness is likely targeted at undermining many of those school employees, including the Des Moines Public Schools, which is holding an emergency session at noon today to vote on an agreement.
The House began debate on the collective bargaining bill at 8:09 PM Tuesday evening, but adjourned at 10:34 PM. They began again a little after 10:00 AM on Wednesday, continuing until 10:10 PM that night with three one-hour breaks in-between. Debate started this morning around 9:00 AM, and will now finish at noon.
All in all, the Republican-led Iowa House will have devoted only about 14 hours of floor debate on the most important piece of legislation in Iowa in decades.
The Senate held an all-night debate session that stretched from Wednesday to Thursday.
Democrats introduced over 90 amendments in the House and over 40 in the Senate to stall passage and allow time for Iowans to weigh in on the bill and learn about its impacts. Republicans introduced the 86-page bill last Tuesday and proceeded to fast-track it through subcommittee and committee hearings. One public hearing was held on Monday, which drew over 5,000 protesters to the rotunda, one of the largest such gatherings anyone had seen at the Statehouse.
Governor Terry Branstad is expected to quickly sign the bill upon passage before he leaves for his ambassadorship to China.
by Pat Rynard