Guns, Death Penalty and Voter ID Get Airing at Statehouse Ahead of Funnel Week

Feb 27, 2017

The self-imposed deadline for lawmakers to get bills out of committee known as “funnel week” is now upon the Iowa legislature.  Here’s what to know going into this important step at the capitol this week, according to IPR’s Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell.

Colleges and universities are taking a beating. A top budget official in the governor’s office released details on Friday about $11.5 million in cuts that will help close a mid-year shortfall. It will include an additional $2.7 million in reductions to Iowa’s three public universities and about $1.7 million to community colleges. Last week it was announced the UI would rescind some scholarships to make up for budget cuts already announced.

Republicans are working to get a gun bill moving. Many of the gun rights bills advocates have been pushing in the House are in a wide-ranging bill before the House and Senate. It includes “stand your ground language” which gives a gun owner more leeway for self-defense. That provoked “the most-heated debate” at a subcommittee last week, says IPR's Russell. “Gun rights groups helped defeat Senate Democrats to create new Republican majority in the Senate.”

Voter ID bill starts moving forward. Secretary of State Paul Pate’s bill to require identification at the polls will make it before a sub-committee Monday, it will need to pass a committee vote this week.   

The death penalty could be coming back to Iowa.  There are two limited death penalty bills filed in the Senate and it appears at least one will be considered. “The atmosphere here is much different than it even was 20 years ago," says Sen. Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque), who voted against a bill to reinstate the death penalty in 1995. "I think the Republican Party has gone far more to the right."