The plan to end the 2010 Iowa legislative session this past weekend was abandoned and lawmakers are due to return to Des Moines today, with hopes of concluding the session early this week.
Late Saturday night the Iowa Senate spent about half an hour debating a bill that outlines how state gambling taxes will be spent on a variety of infrastructure projects. Senator James Seymour, a Republican from Woodbine, complained about the $8.5 million in state funds set aside for potential passenger rail projects.
“President Obama has committed the United States to building at least 13 high-speed rail lines, one of the most expensive forms of transportation…a nation could choose,” Seymour said Saturday night. “Even in a strong economy, building high-speed rail makes little sense.”
Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, defended the concept. “There is a major federal initiative underway to reenergize this country by investment in rail,” McCoy said Saturday night. “It’s a policy decision to move away from a dependency upon oil and move towards a more effective form of transpotation that is sustainable long-term.”
Later today the Iowa House is expected to debate the entire bill, including the section about passenger rail. The bill sets aside money for a wide range of projects, like $1.5 million for restoration of Lake Delhi; $400,000 to buy new gauges to measure river levels; and another $60,000 to continue restoring Civil War-era battle flags that were deteriorating in a statehouse display case.