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Senators' Tempers Flare in Otherwise Calm Debate

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Two southeast Iowa lawmakers shouted at each other on the Senate floor during debate on a bill about home health care.

The unusual episode started Tuesday when Sen. Mark Chelgren, an Ottumwa Republican, suggested Democratic Sen. Tom Courtney, of Burlington, had not responded to an Ottumwa woman concerned about the proposed bill. Chelgren admonished Courtney to "not let that happen again."

Courtney responded that constituents told him that Chelgren didn't seem to care much about the issue.

Chelgren shouted that Courtney had impugned his character. Courtney shouted back, "You started this, pal."

Senate leaders intervened. Courtney was heard off his microphone calling Chelgren a "lying son of a gun."

Chelgren later apologized. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal called a lunch break so "some members can regulate their blood sugar levels."