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"The poorly worded joke was pointing out the fact of what some people have said about the bill," said Rep. Jeff Kaufmann, R-Wilton, the House speaker pro tem. "I think in terms of what the bill does or doesn't do, I think it's an issue that we need to talk about." [...]
"I think the comment, although poorly worded, actually showed some sensitivity that people with mental health, that we need to take that into account in any bill we have," Kaufmann said Friday.
He continued: "I think the fact that this is even newsworthy reflects a concern that we want to get it right when we're talking about mental health issues."
Helland last week abruptly shut down a meeting on House Study Bill 219, an outrageous measure that would eliminate any state permitting for guns. Iowa on Jan. 1 relaxed concealed carry permit regulations, leading to a virtual explosion in permits. We've not heard any groundswell to completely eliminate permitting. Yet Helland seemed ready to advance discussion of dropping permits entirely, until a Democratic staffer began capturing debate on a Flip video camera. Helland quickly stopped discussion and offered the strangest excuse we've ever heard: "I'm not going to have the subcommittee become campaign fodder."
We believe substantive public discussions on public issues by publicly elected leaders in a public building should be the very foundation of "campaign fodder."
If Helland was prepared to raise the issue in subcommittee, Iowa voters needed to hear what he and his subcommittee members had to say about it. [...]
But we do flinch when a House leader stops public discussion of a bill because recorded excerpts might be heard by - of all people - the public.
And we flinch harder when publicly recorded mutterings in a public chamber seem to explain why.