Lawmakers returned to the statehouse this morning for what leaders publicly suggest could be the final week of the 2009 legislative session. Democrats had hoped to pass their overhaul of the state’s income tax system last week, but they continue to "tweak" the proposal, at the urging of Governor Chet Culver, a fellow Democrat.
House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines says as soon as Democrats in both the executive branch and legislative branches are "comfortable" with a final product, debate will be held. "When our ducks are in a row with this bill, then we will move forward with it," McCarthy says. Republicans point to the failure of a labor related bill earlier this year and suggests Democrats lack the votes to pass their tax plan in the House.
McCarthy says that’s not the case. "We’re all on board with the concept. It’s now getting the details right and the tax rates right…If you make one, single tweak to an area, it could have a $14 or $15 million effect on your balance sheet, one way or another," McCarthy says. "It’s very complicated."
The tax plan isn’t the only item on the legislature’s "to do" list. Lawmakers must draft a final version of next year’s state budget. Republicans like Senate G.O.P. Leader Paul McKinley of Chariton are pressing for action to start the process of amending the state constitution so same-sex marriage would be banned here.
"It isn’t rocket science. We know what the issue is," McKinley says. "The legislature has said one thing. Seven justices have said another. It’s time for the people of Iowa to weigh in." On Friday the seven justices of the Iowa Supreme Court issued a ruling that will allow gay marriage in Iowa, starting April 24th.
If the 2009 legislature passes a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage, 2012 is the earliest Iowa voters would see the proposed amendment on the general election ballot. However, Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal says as long as he’s leader, there will not be action in the Iowa legislature on the issue.