The Iowa House quit work late yesterday (Friday) afternoon and won’t return to Des Moines until the state Senate makes some decisions. The Senate is evenly-divided between Republicans and Democrats and has been unable to agree on a state spending plan. The Co-Leaders of the Senate intend to sit down behind closed doors over the next few days and hammer out a compromise. “It’s kind of like if you’re, you know, trying to bargain on buying a car. You hae one price. The salesman has another price and you’re trying to meet somewhere,” Senate Co-Leader Stewart Iverson, a Republican from Dows, says. “That’s kind of this whole process, only with much bigger numbers.” House members passed their version of the state budget and adjourned on Friday evening, the 110th day of the 2005 Legislative session. It’s the target date for ending since it’s the day legislators’ daily expense money dries up. Iverson isn’t concerned. “I think more people are interested in having us do our job properly than having us get out on the 110th day,” Iverson says. The other Senate Co-Leader, Democrat Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs, says if he and Iverson can agree on a sticker price, the rest of the Senate will return Monday to haggle over the extras. “This little roller coaster of this process where all 150 people all have to come collectively to the same conclusion — that’s not easy to accomplish,” Gronstal says. He says decisions won’t come easy, or quickly. “I think it’s certainly possible that we could, on Tuesday or Wednesday, come to a framework for an agreement…and then executive that by Friday, maybe Saturday,” Gronstal says. “That’s possible.” In addition to spending items, the Senate is still deadlocked over the death penalty. At least 17 Republican senators want to debate the issue. Gronstal — the Democratic leader — vows to stifle any attempt to debate capital punishment. That impasse could kill a bill that takes other steps to toughen Iowa’s laws dealing with sex offenders.
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