Iowa legislators have been meeting in Des Moines for nearly two months, but you can count the number of accomplishments of the 2005 Legislature on one hand — and not use all your fingers. Governor Tom Vilsack has signed just two bills into law. Senate Co-Leader Stewart Iverson, a republican from Dows, has for years said a limited legislative agenda is just fine with him.”People have told me, ‘You know, sometimes the state might be better off if we never showed up’ and I can’t dispute that,” Iverson says. “I don’t necessarily think that we can solve every single problem that every single Iowan has.” Iverson says taxpayers are pleased when legislators don’t take more from them or do more to them. Legislators have yet to reach agreement on key issues, like how much money to provide schools, whether to revive the expensive Iowa Values economic development fund or how to erase the red ink in the state’s Medicaid budget. Senate Co-President Jeff Lamberti, a republican from Ankeny, says the partisan divide in the Senate — where there are an equal number of republicans and democrats — means legislators are focusing on a few big things rather than a bunch of small things. “We’re finding that we don’t need to spend as much time on things that we probably don’t need,” Lamberti says. “This year, we’re focusing a lot more on priority items.” Senate Co-Leader Michael Gronstal, a democrat from Council Bluffs, admits that as this point, there’s not much of a work product to measure legislators on. Gronstal says he’s not “about” counting the number of bills this legislature has passed, but is focusing instead on ensuring legislators give voters what they promised them on the campaign trail. Republicans and Democrats in the state Senate say they may agree on about 20 percent of next year’s state spending plan by next Wednesday.
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