House Democrats attempt to force vote on anti-bullying bill

BullyingBy Bob Eschliman


They tried and failed.

Iowa House Democrats attempted Wednesday morning to bypass House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) and force a vote on Gov. Terry Branstad’s hallmark anti-bullying bill, Senate File 488. Conservatives across the state have fought the proposed legislation, saying it unnecessarily erodes parental rights in the state.

House Democrats invoked a procedural effort to request a vote to “suspend the rules” to allow a vote on the measure. They also requested a recorded roll call vote, and then invoked Rule 75, which requires every legislator who is present to vote.

The measure came up six votes short of requiring a vote on the bill. It failed on a 52-45 vote.

Later in the afternoon, state Rep. Chris Hall (D-Sioux City), who had made the procedural move to push for a vote on the anti-bullying bill, made a point of privilege speech about the issue. He accused House Republicans of not putting the needs of Iowa’s children first, taking a brief moment to complain about the lack of movement on conference committee negotiations over state percentage of growth for supplemental school aid.

Also in the afternoon, the House adopted Senate File 449, which creates new limitations to the use of eminent domain in Iowa. The bill was further amended to require that only the land required for a project may be condemned, and that eminent domain cannot be used if other means are feasible.

SF 449’s floor manager, state Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton), said there remains efforts to “badger rural land owners” to create new lakes not just for new water sources, but for recreation. He said eminent domain should be hard to accomplish, and never done to condemn property for private profit.

Kaufmann received support from state Rep. Vicki Lensing (D-Iowa City), who urged the House to support his amendments. Both were adopted on voice votes.

In his closing remarks, Kaufmann noted SF 449 was the first eminent domain bill to come out of the Democrat-controlled Senate in five years, and afforded an opportunity that couldn’t be missed for the Republican-controlled House. He thanked several legislators who played a role in helping to craft the final version of the bill.

SF 449 was adopted on a 92-3 vote. Those voting against it were House Minority Leader Mark Smith (D-Marshalltown), and state Reps. Bruce Hunter (D-Des Moines) and Mary Lynn Wolfe (D-Clinton).

During the short morning session, the House also adopted the following bills on unanimous, or nearly unanimous, votes:

  • Senate File 488 – a substitute bill for House File 640 – an act to allow the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission to levy air quality fees, to be collected by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, to fund monitoring programs.
  • House File 644 – an act to allow for renewable energy tax credits for heat generated by alternative energy systems.
  • House File 645 – an act to allow for energy tax credits for construction of facilities to be taken over multiple years.
  • House File 646 – an act to allow the use of Physical Plant and Equipment Levy funds by school districts to pay for repairs to transportation equipment that exceeds $2,500.

The House also concurred Wednesday with Senate amendments to the following pieces of legislation:

  • House File 397 – an act to amend child labor laws for working at non-profit and religious organizations.
  • House File 447 –an act to require cell phone service providers to give call location information in emergency situations, exempting resellers of cell phones and prohibiting carriers from violating federal law to comply with the act.
  • House File 229 – an act to regulate buying club memberships, with an exemption for businesses that operate primarily on the Internet.
  • House File 507 – an act to allow sewer bill companies to have the ability to collect on delinquent bills, for debt incurred on or after July 1.

Also in the late afternoon, House Democrats used the end of the day’s session for personal points of privilege focused on environmental issues.

Smith spoke about Earth Day, and his sentiments were echoed by state Reps. Bruce Bearinger (D-Oelwein), Claire Gaskill (D-Ottumwa), and Art Staed (D-Cedar Rapids).

State Rep. Bob Isenhart (D-Dubuque) spoke about the 25th anniversary of Iowa’s adoption of the Energy Efficiency Act, while state Rep. Marti Anderson (D-Des Moines) read a letter from 97 Iowa religious leaders to President Barack Obama, urging for adoption of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon pollution standards.

State Rep. Timi Brown-Powers (D-Waterloo) then read from the Iowa report of climate change impacts on health, followed by state Rep. Liz Bennett (D-Cedar Rapids), who read from state Sen. Rob Hogg’s book, titled “America’s Climate Century.” State Rep. Dan Kelley (D-Newton) also spoke about water quality issues the state currently faces.

Republicans, however, didn’t just sit back. They also used points of privilege speeches to express their views on the environment.

State Rep. Larry Sheets (R-Moulton) refuted several claims made by climate change activists. State Rep. Ralph Watts (R-Adel), who formerly worked for an energy utility, used a speech to discuss how the Energy Efficiency Act was, in fact, wealth redistribution.

State Rep. John Kooiker (R-Boyden), a farmer, talked about how he knows, from personal experience, that weather is always changing and “never dependable.”