Governor Terry Branstad has just approved the legislature’s compromise plan to set up state-licensed operations in Iowa that will grow marijuana for the production and distribution of cannabis oil.
Iowa doctors may now prescribe cannabis oil for treatment of 15 chronic and debilitating conditions, like epilepsy. In late April, Branstad had signalled this would be his decision.
“This is certainly a subject that has a lot of interest and support,” Branstad said. “…I’m pleased that the legislature was able to reach a consensus on this difficult and contentious issue.”
Critics say the law so narrowly limits TCH content that the cannabis oil that will be available in Iowa will be like “baby aspirin.”
Branstad took action on 10 bills today and has now signed all the bills passed by the 2017 legislature. Nearly all aspects of the Republican-led legislature’s spending plan for state government got Branstad’s approval, including a proposal to “defund” Planned Parenthood.
“As your governor, I’m proud to be able to sign pro-life bills,” Branstad said last week. “I’ve done some over the years, but I think this year was really a banner year for the pro-life movement. History was made this session.”
GOP lawmakers voted to forgo nearly $3 million in available federal funds that could have been used at health care organizations that perform abortions. Instead, $3 million in state tax dollars will be used on family planning services for Medicaid patients, for things like prescriptions for contraceptives and reproductive health exams.
Branstad faced a May 22 deadline for either signing or vetoing all the bills the House and Senate approved before ending the 2017 legislative session in late April. The governor of Iowa also has item veto authority on spending bills. He used that authority to erase language in a budget bill that called for closing the Leopold Center at Iowa State University that has financed hundreds of ag research projects aimed at reducing soil and farm chemical runoff. However, Branstad approved the legislature’s decision to shift state funds for the center to other research at Iowa State. The Leopold Center has relied on state funding, but it does have other sources of funding.
“There are bequests that have been made to the Leopold Center that I’m told could put it in jeopardy if it were eliminated,” Branstad said a week ago.
The budget plan Branstad ratified for the state fiscal year that begins July 1 is about $14 million less than the current year’s state budget. Branstad issued a written statement, calling the 2017 legislative session “one of the most significant and productive sessions in our history.” And the governor said Republican initiatives will “make Iowa more competitive and prosperous.”
Senator Rob Hogg, the Democratic leader in the Iowa Senate, has the opposite view. Hogg says the 2017 legislative session was a “nightmare” and the GOP’s budget “is a mess.”
“Not because of a national or global recession, but because of their bad budgeting decisions and their failure to create jobs and raise family incomes as promised,” Hogg said.
Hogg and other Democrats accuse Branstad and his fellow Republicans of approving too many “tax give-aways” over the past six and a half years.
(This post was updated at 5:06 pm with additional information)