Just over a week ago, Democrats failed to find the necessary votes to pass prevailing wage legislation in the Iowa House of Representatives. Speaker of the House Patrick Murphy (D-Dubuque) kept the voting machine open throughout the entire weekend in hopes that one more vote could be found.
Murphy and Governor Chet Culver were unsuccessful in finding an additional vote, but both vowed that the issue was not dead. On Monday, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy switched his “yes” vote to a “no,” which allowed House Leadership to make a motion to reconsider the bill at a later date.
Yesterday, The Iowa Republican learned that newly elected Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson, a Republican, has made calls to Republican House members to inquire if any Republicans might change their vote on prevailing wage. State Representative Dawn Pettengill (R- Mount Auburn) confirmed to The Iowa Republican that Oleson had contacted her.
“Yes, I was contacted by Brent to see if any Republicans might change their vote on prevailing wage. He said he had a union friend that was wondering if [the GOP opposition to the prevailing wage bill] was PAC related or policy. I told him Republicans don’t make decisions based on PAC donations. We were fundamentally opposed. And the answer was no, there weren’t any who might change their vote,” Pettengill said.
Oleson, the former Senior Counsel to Republican Leader Sen. Mary Lundby and Sen. Ron Wieck, told The Iowa Republican that he called Rep. Pettengill only to inquire for a friend who wanted to know whether or not the vote against prevailing wage was done for philosophical reasons or because of influence by a special interest group. For the past three years, Republicans in the House and Senate have consistently opposed labor-backed bills on a party-line vote.
Oleson is was elected to the Linn County Board of Supervisors last November with 57.87% of the vote. Previously, he spent several years as a top legislative aide and confidant to State Senator Mary Lundby. He served in the same capacity for Sen. Ron Wieck. Records from the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board show that the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Local 125 contributed $1000 to Oleson’s campaign.
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