Under the Golden Dome

"Under the Golden Dome," is Iowa Public Radio's coverage of the Iowa legislature. Each episode is a compilation of the week's news coverage, including stories, interviews and more. The 2017 session finds Republicans controlling both legislative chambers, as well as the Governor's office, for the first time in 20 years. Out of the gate lawmakers are addressing a $100 million shortfall in the current budget. Join us as we navigate issues like education funding, and improving Iowa's water quality. Each week we'll talk with policy makers as well as those impacted by their actions.

John Pemble / IPR

The first half of the 87th General Assembly ends Saturday morning, April 22nd, at 7:15. The chambers are mostly silent as amendments and budget bills are finalized in committees. In the middle of the night, House leaders give their sine die speeches a few hours before adjournment. By daybreak, debate begins for the last bills of the session. One expands medical marijuana and the other is the standing appropriations budget bill.

John Pemble / IPR

  

It's the last full week of the 2017 legislative session with many long and complicated discussions about next year's budget.  This week's show stays clear of most of the budget discussion and we can present a final show next focusing on the budget with a wrap up of the past 15 weeks.

For this second to last show in the series, we focus on some of the final non-budget bills passing both chambers.

John Pemble / IPR

As the end of the session nears, leaders are often asked a simple "yes or no" about the likelihood of a bill becoming law.  The Senate president says a bill that would change how independent water utilities are managed isn't moving forward.  This bill's passage would affect the Des Moines Water Works, for example. 

John Pemble / IPR

  

This week, the House passed the most restrictive abortion bill in the state's history.  It bans abortions after 20 weeks except when the life of the mother is in danger.  The bill originated in the Senate two week ago, but the House makes many revisions.  In this podcast, we condense the six-and-a-half hour long debate from the chamber floor to 15 minutes.

John Pemble / IPR

Since 2007, two legislators are surprised every year with an award from the Herbert Hoover Foundation. On Thursday Senator Rob Hogg and Representative Zach Nunn were honored.  Previous honoree House Speaker Linda Upmeyer says it's one of the most meaningful awards a legislator can receive.

John Pemble / IPR

Six weeks ago, legislation about changing Iowa's collective bargaining law featured a long and contentious debate in both chambers, and hundreds of demonstrators at the Capitol.  During this process lobbyist Drew Klein, state director for Americans for Prosperity, advocated for this bill.  Turns out he was not registered during this time as a lobbyist.  The House Ethics Committee took up a complaint about Klein this week and we'll hear part of the committee's process during their first action of this General Assembly.

John Pemble / IPR

Week 10's podcast begins with the state of Iowa being low on money, again.  The Revenue Estimating Conference projects a $131 million shortfall by July 1st. Legislative leaders say budget cuts this close to the end of the fiscal year aren't practical, so the state's rainy day funds will be used.

John Pemble / IPR

This week, the House passes a bill expanding gun rights.  Among the things it will allow includes a person with a permit can bring a concealed pistol to city council meetings, but not school board meetings.  Similarly, one can be brought inside the state Capitol. 

Representative Matt Windschitl leads the effort to pass this bill. During the debate he says, “If I had my druthers, a law-abiding Iowan would be able to carry a firearm wherever they are lawfully present.”

John Pemble / IPR

This is the first funnel week of the session, where bills that have not come before a committee are eliminated. It also provides party leaders a chance to reflect on what they've accomplished and what they can realistically expect to see coming to the House or Senate floor for debate.  Senator Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids), minority leader, says the Republicans' remaining agenda is "nonsense." House Speaker Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) says Hogg's use of "hyperbole" is an example of the Democrats having a tough time refuting the success of a Republican-dominated session. 

John Pemble / IPR

There is lingering bitterness from last week's long debate about changing Iowa's collective bargaining laws.  On Monday afternoon, Democratic senators use their points of personal privilege to voice their disappointment and to ask more questions about the authorship of the bill.

John Pemble / IPR

A Republican bill changing collective bargaining passed through the House and Senate on Thursday after a long and contentious debate.  Governor Terry Branstad signed it into law on Friday.

John Pemble / IPR

On this show, representative Monica Kurth from Davenport took her oath of office on Monday.  She won a special election on January 31st.  Now the Iowa House is full and her first day was a long one.  The House debated a K-12 education spending bill, as well as a new rule banning the use of visual aids, during a debate without approval from the Speaker of the House.

John Pemble / IPR

Three-and-a-half weeks ago, Governor Terry Branstad presented two major proclamations during his Condition of the State speech. One, budget reductions for this fiscal year, which the House and Senate just delivered.

Second, redirecting family planning money that would not include funding organizations that perform abortions.  Last Thursday, the Senate passed a bill accomplishing this goal.  But it was a heated debate, often involving Senate Rule Nine.

John Pemble / IPR

With 29 Republicans and 20 Democrats in the Senate, the majority party is winning everything put to a vote, including the most anticipated legislation of this session, Senate File 130. It’s the budget bill cutting $113,332 million from the current fiscal year ending June 30th. On this show, we’ll hear some of the debate. The bill moves to the House next week where it is expected to pass and be signed into law by Governor Branstad.

John Pemble / IPR

During this weekly podcast of highlights from the Iowa legislature, nobody knows how long Governor Terry Branstad will remain in Iowa.  President Trump wants him to be the next U.S. Ambassador to China, but a timeline for the confirmation process is not set.

Once he makes the move, Branstad will serve at a delicate time in U.S.-China relations under President Trump, who is off to a rocky start in his relations with that country. Iowa Public Radio reporter Clay Masters looks back to a few months ago when it started to become clear what was to come for governor.

John Pemble / IPR

This new podcast from Iowa Public Radio highlights the activity at the Iowa Capitol during the legislative session.

Our first week begins with the opening of the 87th General Assembly, where Republicans control the Senate, House, and the governor’s office.  In the first half hour of the session, outgoing Senate President, Democrat Pam Jochum hands Republican Senator Jack Whitver the gavel. Republican priorities this year include changing collective bargaining, implementing voter ID, and defunding Planned Parenthood.