Republicans rushed yesterday to complete committee work on their priority bills by the legislature’s deadline for initial action.
A measure that will revamp Iowa’s workers compensation system survived. A bill to reinstated the death penalty in Iowa did not. It will no longer be eligible for consideration this year, just like the other policy-related bills that failed to pass a committee by today. Senate Democratic Leader Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids told reporters on Thursday that the agenda Republicans have pursued the past seven weeks is about creating “chaos.”
“I mean this is just nonsense after nonsense after nonsense,” Hogg said during a news conference in his statehouse office. “And we’re trying to sit here saying: ‘Hey! You said you were going to work on the economy and schools. Where is it?'”
House Speaker Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake, the top Republican in the legislature, held a news conference about half an hour later. When asked about Hogg’s remark, Upmeyer said she was “not surprised.”
“We’ve been very successful in moving forward and they’re having a tough time refuting substance, so we hear hyperbole,” Upmeyer said.
And Bill Dix, the Republican leader in the Iowa Senate, is hints the GOP may reveal a tax cutting plan in the coming weeks.
“The states that have recognized that the income tax is an old, antiquated tax that punishes growth and investment, those states are growing,” Dix said during an interview Thursday.
Governor Branstad said Thursday afternoon that he is pleased Republicans have advanced one of the policy priorities he outlined during his annual address to legislators in January. It’s a bill that would ban the use of hand-held electronic devices while driving. Committees in both the House and Senate have approved bills that make that move. However, the House plan calls for a one-year grace period, so drivers caught handling their phone and tweeting, texting or Snap Chatting while driving would get a warning ticket.