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February 20th, 2009

Prevailing Wage vote to be held open through the weekend

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Written by: The Iowa Republican

After five hours of debate, the Iowa House came to a standstill Friday evening as Democrats called for a vote on the prevailing wage bill and the roll call showed the votes at 50-46 — one short of passage. The plan now is to keep the vote open over the weekend as Dems push for one of their five members to switch from a “no” to a “yes” vote.

“As the presiding officer of the House, I will stay in the Speaker’s chair and the voting machine will remain open until Monday,” said House Speaker Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque. “My goal is to get 51 votes and make sure we have good-paying jobs for middle class families.”

Rep. Geri Huser, D-Altoona, was the only Democrat missing from the chamber but she would have been a “no” vote, said state Rep. Doris Kelley, D-Waterloo, who also voted against the bill given the state of the economy.

“This is not the time and this is not what we should be focusing on,” said Kelley, who said her vote would not change now, tomorrow or next year.

A total of five Democrats voted against the bill that would require contractors to pay workers the same hourly wages and benefits on public projects as they would on private-sector projects in the area.

They included Kelley along with state Reps. Larry Marek, D-Riverside; McKinley Bailey, D-Webster City; Dolores Mertz, D-Ottosen; and Brian Quirk, D-New Hampton. A turning point is believed to have revolved around Bailey, who said during debate of an amendment that would have exempted community colleges from the prevailing wage requirement that he couldn’t vote for the bill if it didn’t contain that exclusion.

The other three who hadn’t voted yet were Republicans: state Reps. Royd Chambers of Sheldon, Scott Raecker of Urbandale and Greg Forristall of Macedonia.

At 11:15 p.m. Friday, Raecker, who had been excused for the day to attend a work commitment, returned to the House chamber and cast the 47th ‘no’ vote. The voting machine still sits open, now showing a vote of 50-47.

“Tonight I’m standing with Iowa taxpayers and opposing House File 333,” Raecker said. “In a budget crisis like we are facing, this is the wrong time to be enacting legislation that will raise taxes and hurt Iowa’s economy.”

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