Today will probably be the final day of the 2003 Iowa Legislature’s “regular” session. Senate Republican Leaders say they’ll deal with a couple of budget bills today, and then adjourn, without taking action on tax reform or a key economic development initiative. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows broke the news to Governor Vilsack last night, and Vilsack promised to bring lawmakers back into “special session” later to deal with those issues. Iverson says Senators realize they’ll be coming back. Iverson says the Senate needs to take a breather so “boom, we’re out of here.” Iverson says there’s nothing wrong with taking a breather because folks need to look over the details of proposals that’ve been put forward. Senate Democrat Leader Michael Gronstal of Council Bluffs doesn’t want to leave today.Gronstal says legislators need to stay as long as it takes to get the job done. By contrast, the Iowa House last night endorsed a plan that creates a 810-million dollar state economic development fund, and a bill that would simplify Iowa’s income tax system, and cut Iowans’ income taxes failed by just one vote. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, says members of the House “are going to finish the job” that Iowans sent them to Des Moines to do.Rants says he’s pleased by the “heavy-lifting” the House has done, giving Iowans a reason to hope about the state’s future. Among the House accomplishments yesterday was passage of what Governor Vilsack first called an “Iowa Values Fund” that will see the state borrow million to invest in research facilities and busiensses. Representative Clarence Hoffman, a Republican from Charter Oak, says legislators must do something to “grow” Iowa’s economy.Hoffman says it’s time for lawmakers to “step to the plate and do the right thing.” Governor Tom Vilsack met with reporters at 10 o’clock last night to praise the House action. He says now the test of character and leadership shifts to the Senate.Vilsack says he’ll call the Senate back into special session “sooner rather than later” to pass the “Iowa Values” economic development fund. Vilsack says the business community is united behind the project and it’s critical that the fund be created now, because waiting “will simply allow the competition to catch up.” Vilsack says he’d prefer that lawmakers stay, but he says things get strained in the closing days of a legislative session and a few days away might improve the “attitudes” of Senators.
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