The Iowa legislature’s 2014 session may officially conclude today. Senators are set to vote on a resolution that would give the Senate Oversight Committee greater authority to pursue witnesses in a probe about alleged mismanagement in Governor Branstad’s administration. Republicans object, arguing Democrats will engage in political grandstanding by using subpoena power to compel witnesses to testify in statehouse hearings.
“Further evidence that the Democrats have made a decision to follow the lead out of Democrats in Washington and adopt the D.C.-style politics,” Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix told reporters early Thursday morning.
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal said after financial shenanigans were revealed at a central Iowa job training agency in 2006 and at the Iowa Association of School Boards in 2010, legislators used subpoena power to investigate, and he says it’s important to find out more about the “hush money” settlements paid to laid-off state workers.
“This is a situation where to this day no one can answer the question of who authorized the secret agreements that included the confidentiality clauses,” Gronstal told reporters early Thursday morning.
The Senate is scheduled to convene at 8 a.m. this morning to take up this issue, then adjourn for the year. The Iowa House completed its work Thursday morning, shortly before six a.m. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha is the highest-ranking Republican in the legislature and he leads the House, where Republicans hold a majority of seats.
“I think it’s a productive year…Iowans were served. We moved the state forward,” Paulsen said Wednesday night.
Paulsen points to the legislature’s decision to pay off millions of dollars worth of bonds early, reducing long-term state debt.
Gronstal, who is from Council Bluffs, is the top-ranking Democrat in the legislature and he leads the Senate where Democrats hold 26 of the 50 seats.
“I am proud of the work we put in to doing the people’s business up here,” Gronstal told reporters Wednesday night.
Gronstal points to the extra state funding lawmakers approved for the three state-supported universities, ensuring year two of a tuition freeze will happen.
Legislators crafted a $7 billion spending plan for the state budgeting year that begins July 1. Governor Branstad now has a month to review the legislature’s work product and decide which bills to approve and which spending he may item veto.