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Republican Lawmakers 'Frustrated' After Secretary Of State Derails Gun Rights Amendment

John Pemble/IPR
Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley, speaks during the opening of the legislative session Monday, January 14, 2019.

Republican lawmakers said Monday they are disappointed and frustrated because a proposal to add gun rights to the Iowa Constitution will likely be delayed or derailed due to inaction by a Republican official.

Secretary of State Paul Pate failed to notify voters before the 2018 election of two constitutional amendments that had passed the first step of being approved by the House and Senate. Some Republican lawmakers now say it is very unlikely that the proposal could be on the 2020 ballot, as they had hoped.

In a statement, Pate said it was a “bureaucratic oversight” and offered an apology to lawmakers and supporters of the gun rights amendment.

Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley, said his initial reaction to the news “would not be publishable.”

“This may be a monumental setback, but we’ll continue to press forward and try to get this on the ballot before Iowans,” said Windschitl, who has led gun rights initiatives at the statehouse. “We’re looking at if there’s any remedies to continue us moving from where we’re at. And if not, we will start from square one and do what we must.”

House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow, R-Urbandale, said the amendment has been a big priority, and now lawmakers will probably have to start over. If so, the current general assembly and the next one elected would have to approve the amendment for it to get on the ballot in 2022.

“I don’t think it was ever intended that the secretary of state should have what is, in essence, a pocket veto, the ability to negate the work of the legislature on this,” Hagenow said. “That’s frustrating, as well.”

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, agreed and said lawmakers should have a conversation about changing that aspect of the process for amending the Iowa Constitution.

House Minority Leader Todd Prichard, D-Charles City, this came as a surprise to everyone.

“But to wholesale say we’ve got to re-look at this whole system is kind of a knee-jerk reaction,” Prichard said. “It’s too soon to do anything like that.”

Pate’s “bureaucratic oversight” also affects a proposed amendment regarding the gubernatorial line of succession. He was absent from the Republican Party of Iowa’s fundraising breakfast Monday morning.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter