- Associated Press - Friday, March 17, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Des Moines lawmaker is questioning why the chairman of the state Senate Oversight Committee has refused to hold hearings this year, including delving into abuse of residents with disabilities at a state institution.

Democratic Sen. Matt McCoy of Des Moines told The Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/2mA1y2U ) he has requested several hearings but has been rebuffed by Republican Sen. Michael Breitbach of Strawberry Point.

“We have people who clearly hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil,” McCoy said.

Breitbach said conducting an investigation is his “prerogative,” but would say little more.

“There’s nothing in this state he wants to investigate,” McCoy said.

McCoy said he’d like the committee to look into allegations that Iowa State University’s president improperly used a university plane and the reported failure of state child abuse investigators to intervene before the starvation death of a West Des Moines teenager.

McCoy’s latest request was for a hearing about problems at the Glenwood State Resource Center. Last month, 13 workers at the state institution were fired or quit and six were arrested after allegations that they mistreated residents with severe intellectual disabilities.

Iowa inspectors reported in January that some staff members humiliated residents or struck them in the head.

Secretary of the Senate Charles Smithson provided figures that show the committee averaged about eight meetings a year over the past four years, when Democrats controlled the chamber. The committee held regular hearings about alleged problems in agencies run by appointees of Gov. Terry Branstad, who is a Republican.

This year, control of the Senate shifted to Republicans. The Iowa House of Representatives’ corresponding committee, which also is controlled by Republicans, has met four times so far this year.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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