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Iowa Supreme Court Overturns Same-Sex Marriage Ban; GOP Pushes for Amendment - Page 3 PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 03 April 2009 13:27
Hundreds Removed from Public Hearing

About an hour into a public hearing at the Iowa Capitol over a proposal to eliminate federal deductibility, House Speaker Murphy ordered state troopers to remove hundreds of people from the House galleries after they refused to stop applauding, booing, and hissing.

"We require decorum in this chamber. We don't expect to have applauding and loud screaming and yelling," Murphy said. "We do and I do reserve the right to clear the chamber under any circumstances. The chair of this public hearing has requested the chamber cleared, and that is final. Please have the state troopers escort people from the galleries."

More than 500 people packed the Capitol Tuesday night, largely in opposition to a plan that would eliminate the ability of Iowans to deduct their federal tax payments when calculating state tax liability. They wore red T-shirts from Iowans for Tax Relief that stated, "No tax on a tax."

They booed and hissed supporters of the legislation and applauded opponents. They were reprimanded several times by House Ways & Means Chair Paul Shomshor, but the boos and applause continued. Murphy came out, ordered that decorum be kept, and threatened to clear the chamber, but the applause continued.

The final straw came when Greg Baker, a University of Iowa student and state chair of the College Republicans of Iowa, told lawmakers: "Please quit messing up this state."

The crowd burst into applause. Shomshor pounded the gavel and ordered people removed from the galleries at 8:27 p.m. Murphy came out to enforce the order, which was immediately followed by angry shouts from the audience. "This is our House!" one shouted. "We pay you!" said another. "You're fired!" said a third person.

Only the 40 or so who signed up to speak were allowed to stay, along with lawmakers and those on the House floor. The public hearing on House File 807 resumed about 10 minutes later. "I have never been in a house where the tenants evicted the landlord," Tim Morgan of Newton commented.

The final speaker at the public hearing, Ryan Rhodes, said at 9:45 p.m.: "You've turned all of these people into activists. People are mad now."

Republican Party of Iowa Chair Matt Strawn described the removal of hundreds of people from the public hearing as "an unprecedented display of political arrogance" by Murphy.

But House Democratic spokesperson Dean Fiihr said people at the public hearing were warned repeatedly that applause, booing, and hissing aren't allowed at public hearings and that the chamber would be cleared if it continued.

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Michael Kiernan said the protests were "orchestrated" by the Republican Party and Iowans for Tax Relief and were "designed to mock the process."