Republicans in the Iowa Senate made a change to debate rules that blocked senators from introducing amendments to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ bill that would direct millions in taxpayer money to private schools.
This change is meant to limit debate and to prevent Democrats—or other Republicans—from offering any changes to the bill such as introducing income limits or rules about accountability or transparency.
It also ensures both the House and Senate pass the same bill. If the Senate were to introduce an amendment the House didn’t have, the House would have to vote to approve it, which would add another step to the process of passing the bill.
“If this amendment passes, you’re giving up your right in this chamber to amend any part of this bill regardless of any information that might be coming up in debate,” said Sen. Bill Dotzler (D-Waterloo).
The amendment did pass, 33-17, mostly along party lines, with GOP Sen. Charlie McClintock voting with Democrats. After, the Senate stood at ease for Democrats to caucus in protest of the amendment.
“If we hear something that’s really wrong during the debate, your opportunity is gone,” Dotzler continued. “You can’t represent the people back in your district.”
He said the amendment would take away their rights as legislators to alter and perfect the bill as the debate continued.
“Why wouldn’t you want to listen to the public? Why wouldn’t you want to listen to someone who might have a good idea?” Dotzler asked near the end of his speech.
On the House side, legislators passed a rule change to prevent the bill—and any coming from the Education Reform Committee—from having to go through the appropriations committee, the regular process which digs into the fiscal impact of a bill.
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