The 2020 Iowa legislature reconvenes today after an 11 week suspension due to COVID-19 concerns.
“Certainly these are unprecedented times and there is no playbook for it,” Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver told Radio Iowa on Tuesday. “The whole world has changed in the last several months and our people are adapting very well, I think.”
The primary activity for lawmakers will be reworking next year’s state budget plan to account for the predicted pandemic-related slump of $360 million in state tax revenue. Whitver, a Republican from Ankeny, said GOP legislators are also discussing the idea of granting new liability protection against COVID-related lawsuits.
“Many people are hesitant to open whether it’s their school, their church, their college, their salon and so that’s one of the priorities coming back,” Whitver said.
Senators are scheduled to debate more than a dozen other policy proposals this afternoon. A bill that would change the state’s medical marijuana program is on the list.
“I hope to just send down the bill the governor has already agreed to, the House has already sent us,” Whitver said.
Whitver indicated Republican Senators will discuss the policy in private before taking a vote. The bill slightly increases the amount of T-H-C allowed in the cannabis products sold at state-licensed dispensaries in Iowa and Governor Reynolds has signaled she’ll approve it. She vetoed a more expansive bill last year.
In March, cannabis dispensaries in Council Bluffs and Davenport closed abruptly. Industry advocates say Iowa’s THC limits are too restrictive, making the business unprofitable.