On Monday, Iowa Senate Republicans started the “debate” on their dangerous child labor bill.
The bill is horrible for Iowa’s kids. Just ask Steven Colbert. You can watch him give the run down on the bill (starting at roughly 8:20): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duKkHLm2QO0
Senate File 542 expands work hours for teenagers and allows them to serve alcohol and work in potentially dangerous fields like roofing, excavation, demolition and in industrial freezers. Senate Democrats were united against this dangerous legislation.
During the debate, in an unprecedented move, the floor manager Senator Dickey and Majority Leader Whiter also broke with long-standing traditions of free and open debate on the Senate floor.
It happened when Democratic Sen. Bill Dotzler asked a Republican senator to “yield” to a question about how the bill might affect younger workers in bars and restaurants. It was a fair question, meant to help senators and all Iowans understand how the bill will affect teenage workers.
But Sen. Dickey refused to yield. And then he refused again. And then Majority Leader Whitver refused to yield.
Turns out, this is a new strategy from Senate Republicans. They’re simply refusing to take questions on the Senate floor. They say they don’t want Iowa courts to review their comments when deciding whether Iowa’s laws are constitutional.
If senators refuse to answer questions, all of us are left in the dark on what their bills actually do. If they refuse to answer questions, real problems and unintended consequences could get written into law because no one called them out.
Statehouse Republicans are boldly sticking it to Democracy.
Already this session, Republican leaders kicked Iowa journalists out of the legislative chamber, refused to hold hearings for the public to weigh in on the state budget, advanced budget bills out of subcommittees and committees without dollar amounts, and refused to answer basic questions about high-profile legislation.