Maybe they should know better by now, but lawmakers are people, too
January 10, 2015 | 10:00 am
CEDAR RAPIDS — Every legislative session has an agenda — the leaders’ list of important and necessary action.
Then there are 150 individual agendas of legislation that are each “necessary and important” to at least one lawmaker.
The 2015 session appears to be no exception. Gov. Terry Branstad and legislative leaders have been talking about balancing the budget, raising the gas tax, developing a skilled workforce, and expanding broadband connectivity to the state’s 36 million acres.
Those issues are sure to consume much of lawmakers’ time and efforts during the 110-day session that opens Jan. 12 in Des Moines. However, here are a handful of hot button issues that will grab headlines, too:
School start date
With the Department of Education saying it will enforce its rule that schools are not to begin classes until the week of Sept. 1, many lawmakers want to give their local school district more flexibility.
“I expect a discussion,” said Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, noting that the position of the House has changed over the years. He expects the House to take up legislation that won’t set a specific start date, but parameters for school districts. “As we expect high schools to collaborate with each other and community colleges, it would make sense to have similar calendars,” Paulsen said.
Gov. Terry Branstad said he’s willing to consider a change, “but I don’t think that we should be starting school in the early or middle part of August.”
Here’s an issue that doesn’t cut along political lines. Lawmakers tend to split along rural-urban lines and where they stand on property rights.
This year, the possibility of the Rock Island Clean Line electric transmission power line and an underground pipeline to carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois are sparking the debate.
“There’s a lot of tension over those issues,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs. He expects there will be efforts to change the law, which currently grants the Iowa Utilities Board authority to use eminent domain for public utilities. However, neither company in these cases is a public utility.
That makes Paulsen doubt the House will expand the application of eminent domain
“We’ …Read More