Democrats: We Won't Change Law to Make Governor's Actions Legal

May 20, 2015

A tentative deal to keep Iowa’s mental health institutes in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda open longer is meeting with stiff opposition from Democrats in the Iowa Senate. 

As part of the deal, there would no longer be any reference in Iowa law to the two institutes, nor to the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo. 

Negotiators say the governor agreed to keep the institutes open through December 15, instead of closing them next month, but only if all references to the three facilities are stricken from Iowa law books. 

That would eliminate any legal obligation to reopen them. The Toledo home was shuttered last year and the Governor says all three are history.

“We think they're outmoded,” Branstad says. “We think those facilities are no longer going to be used for those purposes.”

But Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal says Iowa law requires the state to operate all three facilities.

“We are not going to change the law every time the governor breaks the law,” Gronstal says.

The debate is part of the Health and Human Services budget bill lawmakers must agree on before the legislature adjourns.

“The governor has repeatedly broken the law,” Gronstal says. “For us to legalize that is a betrayal to Iowans.”