With the Iowa caucuses over and the general election months away, political watchers in Iowa turn their gaze to the capitol. The legislature is taking on many of the same characteristics of previous sessions. IPR’s Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell laid out the following observations:
1. The Governor’s Agenda is modest and defining issues this session are hard to identify.
“There won’t likely be anything too far-reaching in an election year,” Russell says. Joyce points out after the election the House Republican caucus could have a different makeup. If more conservative candidates manage to replace more moderate Republicans then the House could take on a very different perspective.
2. Senate Democrats and House Republicans are going to fight about education funding AGAIN.
This year looks no different than any other of the last few legislative sessions when it comes to education funding. Joyce Russell says Senate Majority Mike Gronstal says there’s been a back and forth but wouldn’t call it “movement.” Governor Branstad estimates the disagreement won’t be settled soon.
3. The Governor’s plan to use the growth of education infrastructure money to pay for water looks shaky.
Governor Terry Branstad introduced a plan to extend a penny sales tax collected for school infrastructure and use inflationary growth for water quality projects. Both the Senate and House seem to side on extending the tax but not sure the growth should be spent on water quality.
4. Medical marijuana talks make another appearance at the capitol this week.
A group known as Iowans for Medical Cannabis will hold a news conference tomorrow and a Republican-sponsored bill will be introduced in the House to legalize medical marijuana. Democrats in the Senate have yet to pass a medical marijuana bill.