116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
I had the honor of serving in the Iowa State Senate from 1979-1986. This was a time when Democrats and Republicans worked collaboratively together to build a better Iowa.
During my first four years, I sat two desks from the press bench. I frequently had conversations with James Flansburg, Dave Yepsen and Tom Witosky of the Des Moines Register, Ken Sullivan of the Cedar Rapids Gazette and Roger Munns of the Associated Press.
As chair of the Education Committee, our members felt it was important to have direct access to reporters who covered the Legislature. Understanding their tight deadlines, it was beneficial to have direct access to reporters during legislative debates.
Therefore, I need to express my sincere disappointment at Republican leaders of the Iowa Senate who will no longer allow journalists to work at press benches in the Senate Chamber. As a former member, registered voter, and homeowner in Iowa, I would simply request a detailed answer on why this break in a century old tradition is being implemented.
As a former high school government teacher, we taught that in order for a representative democracy to work, you needed three things: 1) A well educated populace; 2) Access to public information; and, 3) Access to public policy decision-makers.
My hope is that the Republican leaders reverse their decision to relocate the journalists to the senate balcony. Iowans will be better served by maintaining the close relationship legislators and journalists have experienced over the decades.
Joseph E. Brown, Sr.