Leap Day Walk-out in Iowa House!

Shortly before 10 o’clock this morning House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy appeared in front of the west press bench on the floor of the Iowa House to declare he and the other 39 Democrats in the Iowa House had been “double-crossed.”

McCarthy indicated that yesterday he had been handed by the House GOP one of the internal “blue calendars” which list bills that are eligible for debate and certain bills had been circled, indicating those were the bills that would be debated today.  Two of the bills that were not circled on his sheet (which McCarthy held in his hand and showed the two reporters present) deal with gun-related issues. (Technically one is a resolution, proposing an amendment to the state constitution, but legislators still have to vote on it, just like a bill.) 

McCarthy said he had indicated to House Republican Leader Linda Upmeyer that “you have a couple of controversial bills on there” but he told reporters he had been assured they would not be debated today. “We were called into her office a little bit ago (this morning) and were told plans have changed and they were debating the constitutional amendment today, whether we like it or not, and they are debating the stand your ground bill today, whether we like it or not.”

McCarthy said that would not happen.  “We’ve been betrayed,” he told us. The 40 House Democrats then walked out of the building.  McCarthy’s staff has just issued a written statement, via email:

“Yesterday, the Republican Majority Leader gave me a list of the scope of possible bills that might be debated today.  Under House Rules, the amendment filing deadline is the day before bills are debated… in other words… yesterday.

House Republicans have betrayed our trust and have told us today, contrary to what we were led to believe yesterday, that not only are they debating bills they said would not come up, they are going to attempt to alter the Iowa Constitution with extreme gun language that, if enacted, would turn Iowa into the Wild, Wild West.

House Democrats believe too strongly in our Constitution and have too much respect for the legislative process to allow this misuse of power to occur unchecked. We, therefore, in unity, have left the State Capitol in protest.”

I’ll be back in a moment with House GOP reaction.  Here’s a summary of the situation, including statements from the House GOP leaders.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.