Legislators return to Des Moines later today, intending to make final adjustments to a state budget plan and a few policy decisions before adjourning the 2014 legislative session.
“Getting agreements and pushing paper,” Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs told reporters Friday when asked what hurdles remain for lawmakers. “…The reality is we’re going to stay until we get our job done. We are hopeful we have most pieces near resolution.”
The Senate late Friday afternoon passed a bill that would end greyhound racing in Council Bluffs and shift management of dog racing in Dubuque to the Iowa Greyhound Association. The Iowa House has not yet acted on the bill that would allow both casinos to exit the dog racing business. Other bills on the list for likely action this week deal with anti-bullying policies for schools and decriminalizing possession of an oil derived from cannabis, but just for patients who suffer from severe epilepsy.
House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, sees no major hurdles to taking final votes and concluding the 2014 session “early” this week.
“Only if the members change their minds on wanting to leave,” Paulsen told reporters Friday. “I think everything that needs to be negotiated is either in final form or very close to final form.”
Paulsen said the work product of the 2014 legislative session won’t be as “grandiose” as the commercial property tax cuts, education reforms and health care expansion that cleared the 2013 legislature, but Paulsen says that was to be expected in an election year.
The Iowa Senate is scheduled to start its work at 11 o’clock this mornin and the House will gavel into session two hours later. Groups of legislators, however, are meeting early this morning to resolve key disputes over spending priorities in the state budget plan.