Fights over abortion and the use of “brain fingerprinting” will be hallmarks of debate in the Iowa House today over the republican outline for state spending in the upcoming budget year. Abortion opponents plan to try to limit the number of taxpayer-financed abortions for poor women. Republican Representative Dwayne Alons of Hull wants to forbid public financing for “medically-necessary” abortions for poor women carrying a deformed fetus.Alons says he was born with a hammer toe, and he says if his mother had been poor, she might have been able to get a taxpayer-financed abortion because of that deformity. Alons says imperfection shouldn’t be a reason for aborting a baby.Alons says there have been many medical advances in the 30 years since the rules on which types of abortion can be taxpayer-financed were written. For example, he says some heart deformities can be corrected — while the baby’s still in the womb. Others say the state pays for very few “medically-necessary” abortions, and most involve horribly deformed fetuses, like babies which do not have a brain. Another potential point of conflict today will come when Republican Representative Clarence Hoffman of Charter Oak tries to get House members to vote to strike a deal with a Fairfield-based company that’s pioneering the use of what’re called “brain fingerprints.” It’s similar to a lie detector; and it tracks brain waves. If the firm saves the state money in court cases, then they’ll be paid. If not, no dough. Hoffman says the company’s pioneering this technology and since it’s an Iowa company, he wants the state to be involved and he hopes state investigators will start using “brain fingerprints.” In general, the budget outline being debated today amounts to about four-and-a-half billion dollars in state spending for the upcoming year. Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack says the G-O-P plan isn’t adequate.Vilsack says back in January, he challenged legislators to do three “very simple things.” He wanted them to adequately fund education, find a permanent source of money for the Iowa Values Fund and expand the Vision Iowa program to include outdoor recreation projects, not just big-ticket arenas, convention centers and museums. Vilsack says none of those things are included in the republican budget plan. Vilsack says Iowa has runners of first and third and there’s a chance to continue to rally in job growth and increased student test scores and expanded recreation opportunities. He says the Legislature’s now at bat, and we’ll find out this week whether they’ll “knock the run in or hit into a double play and end the rally.” But Republicans say their spending plan is adequate. Representative Bill Dix, a republican from Shell Rock , says the G-O-P budget funds the core responsibilities of state government and does so without raising taxes.Dix says lawmakers have heard from thousands of Iowans who are worried about the state of the economy, especially rising gasoline prices, and now is not the time for legislators to ask those worried Iowans to pay more taxes.
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