BREAKING NEWS: Hundreds of Iowans thrown out of public hearing

The Des Moines Register | March 31, 2009
By Jason Clayworth

More than 500 people who are upset with a plan to change Iowa's tax laws were cleared from a hearing tonight at the Iowa House after they interrupted multiple times.

House Speaker Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque, cleared the crowd at about 8:30 p.m. The decision brought about loud protests as the crowd was escorted from the chambers by Iowa State Patrol officers.

“This is the most atrocious thing I’ve seen in the history of the 15 years I’ve been a lobbyist. Pat Murphy has acted like a jack-booted Nazi,” said Ed Failor Jr., president of Iowans for Tax Relief, a conservative taxpayers’ rights group from Muscatine with 50,000 members..

Failor Jr. was escorted from the House chambers after Murphy overheard him speak with the media.

House rules say that no protesting or advocating can be done in the House. 

Murphy said he should have ordered the chambers cleared much sooner than he did, since several of the speakers were booed.

“The idea behind the public hearing is to give people public input and allow people the ability to speak for and against the bill. This is not an athletic event,” Murphy said.

After the majority of the public was removed, the scheduled speakers were allowed to continue. The hearing is scheduled to last until about 9:45 p.m.

The proposal, House File 807 and Senate Study Bill 1317, would end a practice known as federal deductibility. That means Iowans could no longer subtract what they pay in federal income taxes from their income when figuring their state taxes.

Ending federal deductibility without changing anything else would mean Iowans would pay an estimated $595 million more in taxes. However, Democrats have proposed a plan that would instead lower the state income tax rates and increase certain tax credits to offset the increase.

Democrats have maintained that two-thirds of Iowans would either see a tax savings or no change at all in their taxes due to the proposal.

Specific numbers show that 49 percent of Iowans who file taxes would get a break in the current tax year, while about 18 percent would see no change.

The remainder – 450,292 people – would see a tax increase, according to the Iowa department of Revenue and Finance.