ARTICLE

Doves Dressed as Raccoons in Season at the Statehouse

(Liz Martin/The Gazette)
(Liz Martin/The Gazette)

For starters, I have no problem with mourning dove hunting.

If hunters want to pursue these winged morsels, I'm confident state wildlife professionals can create a responsible set of rules. State lawmakers have cleared the way for that to happen. Tally-ho.

And I have nothing against doves. A couple of winters ago we had several doves hanging out around our feeders. My kids enjoyed watching them. When the snow melted, however, I found the little dears had used my deck as the little dove’s room.

And, hey, speaking of an ugly mess, how about that legislative process?

Dove hunting did not soar to passage on gossamer wings, folks. It was more like a roach skittering across the kitchen floor in the dark, shielded from scrutiny by quick, deft maneuvers.

The dove bill was off the radar until just before a legislative funnel deadline that exterminates bills that don’t clear a committee. At the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee’s final meeting before the deadline, its chairman, Sen. Dick Dearden, D-Des Moines, sprung the bill and pushed it through. The bill was not on the committee’s published agenda. Surprise.

It passed the full Senate. That sent the bill to the House, where, normally, it would go through a House committee before being taken up on the floor. That provides some time for input and deliberation. Lawmakers can even call a public hearing.

Instead, just one day after Senate passage, House Republican leaders called up another Senate bill having to do with raccoon hunting. The House amended the raccoon bill so that it actually became the Senate dove bill. That very unusual bit of procedural crossbreeding allowed the dove bill to skip the House committee process entirely. Soon, the bill flew to Gov. Terry Branstad, who signed it fast and in private.

That, kids, is how a bill becomes a law. Neat, huh?

And here I thought the tea partying direct descendants of the founders had been sent to Des Moines to take back government in the name of we the people. Instead, they go along with an end run that will likely make the procedural shenanigans hall of fame. Shoving bills through before opponents can mobilize is not revolutionary. It’s the same old story.

I know, it’s just dove hunting. The issue has been around so long, what’s left to say?

Well, if you can pull this stuff with old issues, you can also pull it with shiny new ones. Just to be safe, I’d keep a close eye on raccoons. They might turn into Internet poker or corporate tax cuts with very little warning. Beware.

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