We were working. Yes, House Democrats left the State Capital this morning, but we left in order to caucus on (i.e., to discuss) two gun bills – HF 573 , the Stand Your Ground bill, and HJR 2009, which seeks to amend the IA Constitution in a manner that would make most gun laws unconstitutional – bills that we were informed, this morning, would be debated/voted on later today, despite the fact that we were promised yesterday that these bills were NOT on the schedule for today.
Why is this such a big deal? Here’s why: HJR 2009 and HF 573 are two of the most controversial, extreme, and complicated bills that we’ve dealt with this term. I serve on the Public Safety Committee and thus have already debated/voted on these bills, and I’ve represented people charged with gun offenses, so I would have been fine going straight to debate this morning. But most of my caucus weren’t familiar with the bills, and aren’t criminal defense attorneys. So when Representative McCarthy was informed that House leadership intended to run these bills today despite their promise not to do so, folks were upset — both because it meant that we wouldn’t be able to file any amendments to either bill (since the deadline to do so was 4 pm. yesterday) and also because if one party’s leadership promises the other party’s leadership that certain bills aren’t going to run this week, then they shouldn’t run those bills this week, period.
And if one side breaks its word, they shouldn’t be real surprised if the other side gets upset, and demands a little extra time to get everyone up to speed. That’s what we were doing today, and now we’re back at the Capital, and we’ll stay here as long as we need to stay here and work through the gun bills. Gun bills that have nothing to do with jobs, or education, or mental health services, or public safety (just the opposite, in fact). But maybe once we’re done spending time on these bills that are going nowhere in the Senate, we can create some jobs.