The 2007 Iowa Legislative session has ended with a variety of items completed, but some issues were left unresolved.
The final day, which started Saturday at 9 a.m. and ended 15 and a half hours later, was at times marked with frivolity. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal did a hand-stand at one point, but later tempers flared over a last-minute attempt to change the rules so that adults providing day care to more than five blood relatives — like a grandparent taking care of more than five grandchildren — would have to become a state registered child care provider.
Senate Republican Leader Mary Lundby said it was "one step closer to Big Brother." Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal suggested the ultimate goal was to outlaw corporal punishment. "I think it’s bad to beat kids to death, and every year that happens in Iowa," Gronstal said.
In the end, though, that day care registration idea was abandoned and the Senate and House adjourned shortly afterwards. Legislators decided against taking action on several issues this year, like figuring out how to lower property taxes for business owners.
John Gilliland of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry says that’s disappointing. "The business community, commercial taxpayers, job creators have really tried to shine the light on this glaring problem we have in on our economic development package for the state of Iowa that’s just gone unaddressed too long," Giuliland says.
As for highlights, most legislators cite their effort to raise Iowa teacher pay to the national average as the biggest achievement of the past four months.
Iowa State Education Association president Linda Nelson says 2007 has been a "banner year" for public education. "Last year’s election sent a clear message that Iowans wanted a change and they elected a legislature that not only talked about eduction, but by golly they stood up and voted to raise teacher salaries," Nelson says.