IowaPolitics.com: Tax hearing leads to chaos at Capitol
By Lynn Campbell
About an hour into a public hearing at the Iowa Capitol over a proposal to eliminate federal deductibility, House Speaker Pat Murphy ordered state troopers to clear the four House galleries after hundreds of opponents 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 Iowa Capitol and the House galleries 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."
The crowd booed and hissed supporters of the legislation, and applauded opponents. They were reprimanded several times by House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Shomshor, but the boos and applause continued. Murphy initially 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 chairman 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 the galleries cleared at 8:27 p.m. Murphy came out to enforce the order, which was immediately followed by angry shouts by the audience.
"This is our House!" one person shouted.
"We pay you!" another shouted.
"You're fired!" a third shouted.
House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, tried to do what he could to keep members of the audience in the chamber, but to no avail. Only the 40 or so who signed up to speak were allowed to stay. The public hearing on House File 807 resumed about 10 minutes later. The bill is expected to be debated by the full House on Thursday.