116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
I was disappointed and disgusted to learn that Republicans have decided to ban all reporters from the Iowa Senate floor and limit them to the balcony, undoing a 140 year-old practice. This is hardly a good way to start off a new legislative session.
Freedom of the press is one of the most sacred elements of our democracy and the press cannot do its job if it cannot question our legislators, seek their comments on legislation and meet with them face-to-face to establish trust and rapport. Banning reporters from the floor gravely limits their ability to keep the citizens of Iowa adequately informed about discussions, proposals and bills which we may wish to comment on before they are enacted into law.
I know from observation of the Legislature in recent years that Republicans have a nasty habit of ramming legislation into law at the end of a session with minimal notice and time for comment or hearings. This egregious modus operandi will only be reinforced by the decision to limit reporters’ access and will not provide for well-thought out legislation, open and accountable government and consent of the governed.
I sincerely hope that senators will consider concerns raised by the Linn County League of Women Voters, various members of the press and the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, and allow Iowa reporters to work on the Senate floor in order for them to adequately and fairly cover any and all proposed legislation.