2014 Legislative Session

John Pemble/IPR file photo

The Iowa Senate has voted unanimously to punish violations of the state’s competitive bidding laws, after complaints over how for-profit companies won the contracts for privatizing the state’s Medicaid program. Interested parties reportedly communicated with state employees while their bids were under consideration, what should have been a blackout period to maintain objectivity.    Des Moines Democrat Janet Peterson says there should be consequences when people don’t follow the blackout rule.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

A bill legalizing the possession and medical use of cannabis oil for epilepsy patients passed the Iowa House and Senate.  But will the Governor sign it?  In this News Buzz edition of the show, Host Ben Kieffer talks with Governor Terry Branstad about the loose ends from the 2014 legislative session and which bills will or will not gain his signature.

 

John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa Legislature adjourned last week and even though it’s an election year, lawmakers managed to get a few big items accomplished, including a $7-billion budget and a bill that decriminalizes some forms of medical marijuana in the state. At the same time, priority bills from the governor to crack down on schoolyard bullying and expand broadband to rural parts of the state failed.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Happy Friday! Here's your news buzz wrap-up for the week...

Joyce Russell, IPR’s Statehouse Correspondent, recaps the 2014 Iowa legislative session:

Paul Sleeper, Fisheries Biologist for Iowa DNR, explains that fishy smell near your lakes and ponds:

Photo by John Pemble

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad would support a bill with limited medical uses for cannabis if it looks similar to legislation passed in Utah.  Host Clay Masters talks with Branstad about medical marijuana, the juvenile home, secret settlements, and more on this Legislative Day edition of River to River from the Law Library at the Iowa state capitol building.

John Pemble

Views on medical marijuana appear to be shifting in the Iowa Senate and among the GOP.

Today on River to River - what this may mean for cannabis in Iowa moving forward.

National Archives and Records Administration / U.S. Department of Agriculture

When a storm knocks out power for a few hours, it's an inconvenience; if the outage lasts much longer it becomes a crisis.  However, not so long ago electricity was far from ubiquitous in Iowa.

Iowan Kieth Wirt was 10 years old when electricity came to his family’s farm in Panora. Like most households, the first appliance the Wirts purchased was a refrigerator, and soon after indoor plumbing.

Jeff Golden

On the Fourth of July, Iowans may hear fireworks going off in their neighborhoods, but it is still illegal to buy and light large aerial fireworks in the state.

This legislative session, lawmakers at the Iowa Statehouse are considering whether to lift the ban on the sale and use of fireworks. State Representative Matt Windschitl and Al Esch, of the Iowa Firefighters Association, sound off with their opinions on the matter, along with River to River listeners.

------

Do you feel strongly about whether fireworks should be legal in Iowa?

John Pemble / IPR

There are a number of signs that things are wrapping up much earlier this year at the Iowa statehouse. Republican and Democratic Leaders in the House and Senate say they are well ahead of schedule and there’s a few issues shaking out that will likely be fodder in 2014 campaigns.

John Pemble / IPR

In the last decade, society's understanding of HIV transmission has increased and medical technology has advanced; but in the 1990s, HIV was still a scary concept, and an Iowa law reflects that fear.

Daniel R. Blume / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

On this News Buzz edition of the program, hear about a legislative shouting match, legalizing fireworks, the ACLU lawsuit against the Iowa Secretary of State, a survey of Iowans' thoughts on gay marriage, the Kepler mission, and a push to increase studying abroad.

Legislative shouting match and and other legislative fireworks:

ACLU lawsuit:

Same-sex marriage opinions:

Finding exoplanets:

Studying abroad:

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Last week was "funnel week" at the statehouse.  Now bills that couldn't make it through committee stand little chance of becoming law this session as lawmakers shift their focus to legislation that has more momentum to pass this year.  However many of these issues might be revived in future legislative sessions.

Emily Woodbury

A bill backed by Democrats in the Iowa Senate will make it easier for felons who have completed their sentences to have their voting rights restored. The bill passed a divided Senate subcommittee last week.

As the law stands, people who commit felonies must serve their sentences and pay all court-ordered compensation to victims before they can apply to the governor to restore their voting rights. The policy comes from an executive order signed by Governor Branstad in 2011.

John Pemble

A large majority of Iowa households have broadband access, but less than half of Iowans have access to speeds at 50 Mbps or greater. This creates disparity among certain demographics and can be exceedingly expensive for the increasing number of people who work online from home.

Two proposals, from Governor Branstad and the Iowa Senate, aim to lower these gaps and provide affordable broadband access to all Iowans. Today on River to River, host Clay Masters sits down with representatives to find out more about rural broadband expansion plans being considered at the Iowa Capitol.

John Pemble / IPR

The state cost per student in Iowa’s K-12 public schools is over six thousand dollars per year - increasing steadily over the past couple decades.

The Iowa legislature is supposed to set the amount of state aid for K-12 school budgets more than a year in advance. Schools say they need the budget in advance so they can plan teacher salaries, but republican law makers are hesitant to plan the budget too far ahead.

John Pemble / IPR

Host Clay Masters sits down with legislative leaders on opening day of the 2014 session, to discuss priorities.  Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, leads the only democratically-controlled chamber in Iowa's divided state government.  Representative Linda Upmeyer is Majority Leader in the republican-controlled House.  Each said lawmakers are not likely to tackle major issues this session, but also left open the possibility of taking up some big ideas.  We've listed those ideas below.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs

John Pemble / IPR

Today is the first day of the 2014 Iowa legislative session. It’s an election year, which usually means the time lawmakers meet will be short so people can go run for re-election. IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell talks with Clay Masters about the 2014 legislative session.