At a few minutes past 6a.m. Sunday, the remaining Iowa lawmakers trickled out of the statehouse. They had just completed their second straight marathon session. They went until nearly 4:30 Saturday morning after their Friday session and then and came back to start again a few hours later at 10am. Democratic lawmakers were determined to end the session by the end of the week.
Representative Scott Raecker, an Urbandale Republican, posed a question to me as he was walking out of the house. He wanted to know if this all-night cram session (two of them actually) is really good for Iowa. He asked how good at my job I would be if I worked all night. Actually, I did work all night. And by the time I wrapped up my 18-hour day, I could have probably crawled into the wet bushes outside my house and slept I was so tired.
Raecker said he just didn't understand why the rush? Democratic lawmakers were already nearly a month past their deadline target they set at the beginning of the session (although technically, they were scheduled to adjourn May 1st. And they did vote to cut out about a week of per diem expenses to save some money during this recession.) Raecker points out to the high dollar decisions sleep-deprived legislators made in the wee hours. They agreed on a budget that spends more than $6 billion and another $715 million for the governor's I-JOBS bonding plan. He argues lawmakers can't possibly know what they're discussing when they're speeding through these high-dollar plans, especially when they are barely awake. Raecker said, "I've heard since I was a teenager from my father nothing good happens after midnight. I think Iowans would have been better off the last two nights if our teens and our legislators had been in bed before midnight."
What do you think of this? Does Raecker have a point? Or is this just how things are done at the Iowa Statehouse and it's up to the lawmakers to make sure they know what's before them?