Budget disputes prevailed to the very end, as the Iowa legislature today wrapped up its 2015 legislative session. It now remains to be seen if the governor signs all of the roughly seven-point-three billion dollars in spending approved in the waning days.
It was the 145th day of what was supposed to be a 110 day session.
As the Senate put its finishing touches on education funding, Ames Democrat Herman Quirmbach got in one last complaint.
“This bill is a band aid on a festering sore in the area of education,” Quirmbach says.
The governor has not said if he will approve the entire package for K-12 schools. All the other budget items are also vulnerable to the governor’s veto pen.
Lawmakers addressed a dizzying array of issues in the final days. There will be new help to combat human trafficking, identity theft, and tax fraud. A bill to make texting while driving a primary offense died in the end. As part of a final budget bill, women seeking abortions will be offered a chance to view an ultrasound. Pro-choice advocates say the legislation won’t change current practice.
Republicans urged fiscal restraint throughout the extended session. In a last-minute budget bill, Ocheydan Republican David Johnson urged self-reliance instead of relying on state government.
“Dependency is an issue for all of us in the nation,” Johnson says. “And it should be in this state if we’re going to be budgeting like this.”
In other policy bills, the Democrats’ anti-bullying bill and the Republicans’ wide-ranging gun legislation were not revived. But online schools get a reprieve. A sunset was extended to preserve Iowa’s two all-online schools.