Lawmakers return to the capitol in Des Moines for what is expected to be the final week of the 2016 legislative session. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters talked with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about the big issues they’re going to tackle (or not) before they can go home.
1) The State Budget. This is always an issue Democrats in the Senate and Republicans in the House have to agree over. A GOP Human Services Budget bill that defunds Planned Parenthood must be reconciled with the Democratic Senate.
2) Department of Transportation layoffs. This year some are saying state workers at the DOT could be out of a job because of the tight budget and are tying the reason to the hike in Iowa’s gasoline tax last year.
3) Medical Marijuana. There’s been quite a bit of lobbying for a more expansive medical marijuana law in Iowa. In 2014, the Governor signed a pretty limited cannabis oil law designed for parents with children who have epilepsy. “The AP is reporting there may be an agreement for Iowans to travel to Minnesota to get the drug,” says IPR’s Joyce Russell.
4) Water Quality Funding. There’s been a session-long battle over water quality funding in the wake of a lawsuit filed by the Des Moines Water Works against three upstream drainage districts accusing them of polluting the source the state’s largest metro uses for drinking water. There doesn’t seem to be any movement on water quality this session despite all the talk.