State Representative Christopher Rants is once again attempting to attach an amendment to a piece of legislation that would define marriage as the union between one man and one woman; this time the language would only deal with Iowa’s tax code.
Tomorrow, the Iowa House is scheduled to debate House File 807, the repeal of federal deductibility. This week marks the third time that the Democrats have attempted to move this piece of legislation, but opponents to the bill have been successful in creating a number of road blocks that have caused Democrats to go back to the drawing board more than once.
Last week, we were told that legislative Democrats and Governor Culver had come to an agreement on federal deductibility, yet the bill was not debated last week, and Democrats continued to tinker on it to try and get the 51 votes necessary to pass it in the Iowa House.
The latest attempt to find additional support of the tax increase is an amendment filed by Rep. Paul Shomshor, the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee. Shomshor’s amendment (1484) increases the size of the standard deductions for various tax filers, including a husband and wife who file a joint return.
Rep. Rants has filed an amendment (1534) to Shomshor’s amendment that simply adds, “Husband and wife means one man married to one woman.” This means that all House members would have to vote on an amendment that recognizes traditional marriage.
The move is brilliant on multiple levels. First, it allows all legislators the opportunity to vote on marriage, which is the last thing Speaker of the House Pat Murphy wants to see happen. We have already heard the Democrats say that last week’s vote on Rants’ motion to suspend the rules was a procedural vote and not a vote on marriage. If Rants is successful, House Democrats could no longer make that claim.
The other reason why this amendment is brilliant is because it could prevent HF 807 from finding the 51 votes required for it to pass. Rants has the Democrats in a really tough spot. They either have to vote down Rants’ amendment, or Shomshor has to withdraw is amendment. Neither of those two options are good for House Democrats.
The problem for the Democrats is that Shomshor’s amendment is critical in getting enough Democrats on board to pass the entire bill. When the Chair of a particular committee is the sponsor of an amendment, it is widely understood that it is a critical change to the bill, and it also indicates that the majority of the House Democrat caucus also support it.
Tomorrow we will see which is more important to House Democrats. Are they so afraid to take a vote on gay marriage that they yank a critical amendment and surrender their assault on federal deductibility until next year? Or does Speaker Murphy let his members vote on Rants’ amendment because they need to raise taxes to be able to balance their budget?
Either way, Rants’ amendment allows Iowans the chance to see where House Democrats stand on two very important issues, marriage and taxes.
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