Leaders of both political parties are predicting this year’s Iowa legislative session will be a short one. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen — a Republican from Hiawatha — says that’s partly because last year’s legislature accomplished a lot, passing education reform and a commercial property tax reduction package.
“You know it’s going to be a little more about first downs than it is, necessarily, making touchdowns,” Paulsen says. “We may get a field goal or two and we may even get a touchdown, but I think we’re going to spend a fair amount of time making sure that those things we did last year and also the years preceding are actually having the effect that we are looking for and working the way we expect them to.”
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says the bipartisan cooperation of 2013 will evaporate in 2014 because it’s an election year.
“This next session’s probably not going to be as good because we’re going to give voters a chance to pick between us and them,” Gronstal says.
But Paulsen, the top Republican in the legislature, doesn’t foresee gridlock ahead in Des Moines.
“If there is one positive thing that comes out of the mess in Washington, D.C. it is that the average legislative member does not want to be like congress,” Paulsen says.
Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix of Shell Rock says voters have expectations.
“It’s not so much what you did yesterday, it’s what have you done lately and what do you plan to do?” Dix says.
Mark Smith of Marshalltown was just elected House Minority Leader by his fellow Democrats this past August.
“They say that it’s going to be a short session,” Smith says. “…We’ll keep our fingers crossed on that.”
The 2014 Iowa legislature is scheduled to begin Monday, January 13.