Statehouse: Overdue Adjournment May Set Record

Apr 25, 2018

This year’s legislative session, now in its second week of overtime, could set a new record for going beyond scheduled adjournment when one party controls the House, the Senate, and the Governor’s office.  

In remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday, Sen. Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids) said since the Iowa legislature has met annually, there have been nine times when one party controlled both the legislative and executive branches.

"You can set the record for futility." -Sen. Rob Hogg

Hogg combed through Senate and House Journals and concluded that the longest election-year session under the so-called trifecta was in 1974 when a Republican-controlled legislature didn’t adjourn until May 4th.

“Keep this legislative session going till a week from Friday and you can tie the 1974 record of a May 4th adjournment,” Hogg said. “And if you go to Cinco de Mayo, you can have the record all to yourself.”

This year’s session was scheduled to conclude on April 17th, but ongoing Republican negotiations on tax cuts and the budget have slowed the march toward adjournment.   

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny) appeared to agree that adjournment may not happen by May 5th.

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny)
Credit Joyce Russell/IPR

“That would be the goal in a perfect world," Whitver said.

Finance managers estimate that each day of overtime costs taxpayers more than $10,000, due to wages for part-time staff, printing costs, and transportation costs for lawmakers who are paid for one round-trip home as long as the session continues.   

House Speaker Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) minimized concern about the overtime session.

“Tax bills are very complicated," Upmeyer said. "We want to make sure we get it right."

"We want to make sure we get it right." -House Speaker Linda Upmeyer

But Hogg says Republicans are wasting taxpayers' money.

“If you can just keep this session grinding out another week and a half, you can set the record for futility in the management of a legislative session,” Hogg told his Republican colleagues.

In years past when the Iowa General Assembly met every other year, legislative sessions sometimes lasted into the summer.

More recently, under split control of the legislature in 2011, lawmakers didn’t adjourn until June 30, just in time for a new fiscal year budget to go into effect on July 1.