To the editor:
I am alarmed by the roughshod ways that the Republican majority in the Iowa State Senate is using to ram through legislation. A low point that showed their disregard for Iowans’ right to know occurred earlier this week on Senate File 542, which deals with child labor laws.
During the debate, which went on through the night, State Sen. Bill Dotzler (D) of Black Hawk County asked the floor manager of the bill, State Sen. Adrian Dickey (R) of Jefferson County, whether he “would yield for a question.”
Sen. Dickey said, “No.”
I served as an Iowa State Representative for six years and never in those years nor in monitoring the Iowa legislative process since have I heard of a bill’s floor manager refusing to yield for a question during debate.
Floor debate is the process that allows the public to learn more about the proposed change in the law. Asking questions and having questions responded to is a most important part of the process.
Dotzler asked a second time whether Dickey would yield for a question, and the response was again, “No.” So Dotzler directed his attention to State Sen. Jack Whitver (R) of Polk County, the Republican leader, and asked whether Whitver “would yield for a question.”
He received the same answer: “No.”
This is deception at a high level. It ranks even above the State Senate Republicans passing appropriation bills out of the Appropriations Committee without any dollar figures. How can you discuss levels of service, priorities and alternatives without dollar figures? They were hiding the central component of the legislation.
Both actions (blank dollar amount appropriations and not yielding to questions) point to disregard for the public’s right and need to know about legislative actions.
“Transparency” is a fashionable word bandied about as political speak. This Republican-controlled Iowa State Senate is taking actions that are deceptive and far from transparent.
I suggest we tell State Sen. Green that we want information and not stonewalling, not sleight of hand, not chicanery. If he does not agree, then we need a new state senator, and 2024 is nearing.