Another flare-up over labor bill

There was a terse exchange today at the statehouse as the Senate’s Republican leader tried to force action on a controversial labor bill. The legislation would expand the subjects public employees can explore during union contract negotiations. The bill has passed the Iowa House and Senate, but Governor Culver raised concerns just before it was approved by the Senate, so the top Democrat in the Senate used a parliamentary procedure to essentially table the legislation.

Senate Republican Leader Ron Wieck of Sioux City tried today to lift that hold and questioned Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs. 

"Reserving my right to object, would Senator Gronstal please yield?" Wieck said, in the formal fashion of the senate in which the word "yield" essentially means answer a question or series of questions.. 

"Would the senator yield?" Senator Jeff Danielson asked, as Danielson was acting as the president of the senate.

"I would be happy to," Gronstal replied, again, in the custom of the senate.

"I’m just curious, your deferring," Wieck began, a reference to Gronstal using the parliamentary move of deferral of Wieck’s motion to suspend action on the bill.

"The bill is not debatable.  It’s not amendable.  Can you help this body ("body" to these guys means the senate) with why you would defer, why we wouldn’t either send the bill down to the governor or send it to a committee to have some light shed on the process that, obviously, was not shed before?" Wieck asked.

"Well, apparently Senator Wieck you haven’t had an opportunity to review the legislation even though it’s been in front of you for about three weeks, but understanding that, at this point, I appreciate the fact you’re curious and as far as I’m concerned you can stay curious," Gronstal replied.

"Wow.  Well, senator, you know, thank you for yielding," Wieck said.  On my recording of senate audio, you can hear Gronstal laugh just before his microphone is shut off. 

"You know I hope that in my time in the Iowa Legislature that I never respond to the leader of the other side of the aisle that way," Wieck continued.  "I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before, but I think the people of Iowa really have a right to have something move on this bill and I believe that this is nothing but a stall tactic on it and the reality is that the taxpayers of Iowa and the people of Iowa ought to have a right to know what’s happening with this piece of legislation and I would once again call on Senator Gronstal to allow this legislation to either pass forward to the governor or to send it back to committee so that the bill can be worked on. Thank you."

"Thank you" in that context is sort of like "stop" when dictating a telegram.  It means the end, as in Wieck stopped talking after saying those two words.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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