4 Things to Watch at the Statehouse this Week

Jan 17, 2017

The governor laid out what will most likely be his final Condition of the State Address last week. Lawmakers had Monday off for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, but they’re back at it on Today. Here are a few items IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell is watching.

Planned Parenthood funding is in the crosshairs of Republicans. The plan to eliminate state funding for Planned Parenthood is part of the governor’s budget and has strong Republican support.

“It takes most of the session for budget bills to make their way through to final passage,” Russell says. “But it will almost certainly happen.”

Iowa currently uses federal Medicaid dollars to support family planning programs in the state which includes Planned Parenthood. Defunding it will mean the state will lose federal money and use state funds typically spent on other social programs.

Look for lawmakers, not the governor, to introduce legislation to weaken collective bargaining. The governor has made clear that he would like to take away the ability for local unions to negotiate their own health benefits.

“He also made clear he is not going to offer any collective bargaining bills,” Russell says. “But make no mistake there will likely be no shortage of bills to scale back collective bargaining.”

Budget cuts should get clearer The governor laid out how he’s going to come up with more than $100 million out of the rest of this year’s state budget.

“The bigger the agency, the bigger the cut with the Regents getting the biggest cut of all [$25 million],” Russell says. “The thing to watch is whether majority Republicans cut even more than the governor wants.”

There could be a fight over tenure status at Regent universities. Sen. Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale) regularly introduces bills to prohibit the Regents universities from continuing “a tenure system for any employee of the instiution.”

“Tenure is central to the culture of higher education,” Russell says. “It may get more of a hearing (this session) with Republicans in charge.”