The finish line

It's 12:50 p.m. on Monday, soon to be one o'clock.  One o'clock is the finish line — at least for today — for a bill that would require a "prevailing wage" be paid to those who work on taxpayer-funded construction projects. There are only 50 "yes" votes on the House voting board.  The voting machine has been kept open all weekend, in the hope — according to House Speaker Pat Murphy (D-Dubuque) — that one of the five Democrats who voted "no" would change their vote.

It's 1:05 p.m. now and no action.  Rep. McKinley Bailey (D-Webster City) is not here yet.  He's considered by many to be the key vote on this bill.

House Speaker Murphy opened the sound system at about 1:08 p.m., announced the vote stands at 49-49 now.  (House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines changed his vote from yes to no so as to be on the prevailing side.  The prevailing side, in this instance, are the "no" votes.  It means McCarthy can make a parliamentary move and file a "motion to reconsider" the bill — in order words, a move to bring the bill back up for debate should a deal be struck to get that 51st "yes" vote. )

((The two legislators who are absent are Rep Geri Huser (D-Altoona). She's on a family vacation in Florida and a "no" vote on the bill.  Rep Royd Chambers (R-Sheldon) is on active military duty this year.))

Since the House was technically in session all weekend, McCarthy had to make a motion that the House adjourn until 1:08 p.m. on Monday, February 23, 2009.  Murphy then reconvened the House, at 1:08 p.m Monday and joked: "I hope you all had a good night's sleep."

It's 1:21 p.m. now; still no sign of McKinley Bailey.  The House is passing a resolution commemorating Black History Month.  Prevailing wage bill debate now history.  Regular housekeeping matters are coming before the House as legislators introduce guests, make announcements.

Rep. Phyllis Thede (D-Bettendorf) announced she is celebrating her birthday today.  "I am 25 again.  I am reliving it," Thede joked with her colleagues, then she revealed she brought treats.  "…Please share in this wonderful day."

Rep. Dave Jacoby (D-Coralville) was emotional as he talked about his nephew who was diagnosed with leukemia last year and who played a couple of minutes in his high school's basketball team's "senior night" on Friday. The Cedar Rapids Gazette has the story.

Rep. Nick Wagner (R-Marion) introduced his son, Grant, to his House colleagues.  Grant is hanging out with dad to see what dad does here in Des Moines.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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