The Iowa legislature appears to be in wind-down mode, with teams of negotiators trying to strike final deals on budget bills, plus there are last-minute pitches to curtail greyhound racing and allow medical marijuana in a limited form in Iowa.
House Republican Leader Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake made this announcement on the House floor: “At this point I am very optimistic about the outcome of this week and hopefully it won’t take too long, but I’m hopeful that the end is within reach.”
There’s another sure signal the end of the 2014 legislative session is near. Retiring legislators who are not seeking reelection are delivering their “goodbye” speeches in both the House and Senate. Senator Dennis Black, a Democrat from Lynnville, has served in the legislature for 32 years.
“Colleagues…I love you all, some more than others,” Black said, drawing laughter from his colleagues as he began his farewell address in the senate. Black promised to be brief, then spoke for 45 minutes.
Nancy Boettger, a Republican from Harlan, was first elected to the senate in 1994. When Boettger was handed the resolution senators passed in her honor, she joked: “Thank you so much everybody. Wow! I’m overcome, but I’m not speechless.” Boettger then spoke for about half an hour, thanking fellow senators and legislative staff and reminiscing about the past two decades.
Legislators control the purse strings of state government, so they must develop a spending plan for the budgeting year that begins July 1st before the 2014 legislative session can end. Some of the quarrels that remain unresolved center on how to spend state gambling taxes. That pot of money is reserved for infrastructure projects, like new state buildings, hiking and biking trails and improvements to state parks.