There is no debating the real issue, and that's that lawmakers need to figure out how to house and care for the thousands of aging sex offenders in our state.
But in the short-term, there's a huge debate over how to put a Band-Aid on this problem.
Sen. Shawn Hamerlinck, (R) of Dixon says, "There's a study on what to do with these violent predators since we don't know where to put them. But the last thing you should do is let 'em sit next to grandma."
On those points, nobody disagrees with Senator Hamerlinck. But there is no easy answer for where to put the state's most violent sexual predators that age out of prison. The Governor got the House to pass a law that requires nursing homes to inform patients and their families if a sex offender moves in. Senate republicans are for it.
Hamerlinck says, "This bill is still better than what exists within code. There's legal protection for discharge. It's still better than what we have."
But Wednesday, Senate Democrats got rid of notification of all sex offenders, instead, they passed an amendment to pull all violent sexual predators out of elderly care facilities. Republicans voted against it. So, Senator Michael Gronstal let them have it.
He said, "To vote to let sexually violent predators into nursing homes next to your grandparents and your great grandparents and somehow refer to that as leadership?
Adding, "If the amendment was defeated, those that defeated it voted to allow sexually violent predators into nursing homes."
That may be true, but it's not exactly accurate. Democrats did not suggest a place to put the violent sexual predators that are already in Iowa's nursing homes.
Sen. Hamerlinck, said, "First of all, you grandfathered in sexually violent predators. You didn't take them out. I just asked on the senate floor to the floor manager are you offering notification for sexually violent rapists within nursing homes? What did you say? You said no. We offer no notification to families. I just asked you the question and you just acknowledged that you have rapists next to grandmothers and you stand on the floor and you put on a show."
And then Senators, both Democrats and Republicans, unanimously passed the bill with the provision to make it illegal for the most violent sexual offenders to live in Iowa nursing homes. They united on that point and sent the bill back to the House of Representatives where they will have to take this on without the provision that they put on it which is to notify people of any sex offender who’s registered in the state of Iowa for those families.