DES MOINES — A bill to dismantle the Iowa Core stalled in a House subcommittee Wednesday when a Democratic lawmaker didn’t show up for a meeting where one Republican threatened to report another for improper procedure.
Bills generally have to go through a subcommittee of three people and a larger full committee before they make it to the floor for a vote.
House protocol is a subcommittee can’t start unless all the members are present, and party caucuses, which are closed-door meetings held by political parties, take precedence over floor debate.
Rep. Sandy Salmons, R-Janesville, began the meeting on House File 2140 about a half-hour behind schedule while waiting for her fellow legislators to arrive. The bill would change references to Common Core in state code and replace them with the term “content standards.”
The Common Core is an initiative by the National Governor’s Association to create a set of standards that every K-12 student should know by end of each grade. Iowa adopted the Common Core standards in the state-developed Iowa Core in 2010. All Iowa school districts are required to implement the Iowa Core by the end of the 2014-15 school year.
Critics of the standards cite cost, content and loss of local authority as reasons to oppose them.
“There are a lot of problems with the Common Core, so I’ll try to hit them quickly,” began Jane Robbins at the start of the meeting.
“We have a problem,” Republican Greg Forristall, R-Macedonia, jumped in, cutting Robbins off. He said the meeting couldn’t go forward without Democrat Sharon Steckman of Mason City, who was in a party caucus.
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Salmon initially protested, saying she didn’t know about the rule.
“Sandy, if you want to violate the protocol, you may. I want to hear this, too,” Forristall said, adding that if she did, “I will make the formal complaint to the speaker (of the House). I apologize for bringing this up, but we do have to follow the rules.”
Instead, the meeting continued as an “unofficial hearing.” That meant even though speakers had a chance to talk, the meeting couldn’t count toward the bill-passing process.
After the meeting broke, Salmon said she would try to schedule another one. Approached after the caucus let out, Steckman said that even though she doesn’t favor the bill, she would work with Salmon to get the subcommittee work done.