It’s the end of the 2022 Iowa legislature’s 12th week and some of the priority issues Republican Governor Kim Reynolds unveiled in January remain in legislative limbo.
Reynolds wants to establish state scholarships for parents to send their kids to private schools. Senate Republicans voted for her original plan last year — and this week they passed the governor’s revised proposal. Speaker Pat Grassley told reporters Republicans in the House are working through concerns raised by rural lawmakers, discussing alternatives, trying to line up more yes votes.
“Ultimately at the end of the day from our perspective, we understand that you’re not going to get every single piece in every bill,” Grassley said. “That’s just the legislative process. There are some things that we hope to work on with the Senate and find some common solutions.”
Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, a Republican from Ankeny, told Radio Iowa any adjustments House Republicans hope to make have to get a go ahead from the governor.
“We’re on the same page with the governor. It’s a very important thing in our eyes to get done and now it’s the House’s court,” Whitver said. “…This is one of (the governor’s) major priorities for the year, so I’m not going to unilaterally negotiate with (the House GOP). It’s going to have to go through the governor.”
Reynolds has indicated she meets regularly with these two leaders and is optimistic they’ll find a path forward.
“As we get down to, hopefully, the last few weeks of the legislature — so who’s ready? I am! God bless them. I love them. At one point, I was a legislator…so everybody’s talking. That’s a good thing,” Reynolds told reporters Wednesday.
House and Senate Republicans have voted for the governor’s plan to reduce the maximum number of weeks someone can receive unemployment from 26 to 16, but only the Senate has agreed to a one-week delay in payment of the first week of unemployment benefits.
“We’re one of the few states that don’t do that. Almost every other state does,” Reynolds said. “Iowa is really an outlier when it comes to that.”
Whitver said these two moves have been priorities for the governor from day one of the 2022 legislative session. “And we passed exactly what she laid out and the House has watered that down a little bit,” Whitver said. “We’ll see if we can find agreement on that and everything else here at the end.”
Grassley said House Republicans approved the major piece of this particular puzzle — reducing the duration of unemployment benefits by 10 weeks — to ensure the solvency of the fund that covers the checks. “That’s the good news, that on that piece, it looks like there is that level of agreement,” Grassley said.
Reynolds, who served two years in the state senate, suggested momentum for reaching agreements and ending the 2022 legislative session will build — as the temperature outside the Capitol rises and it feels more like spring planting season.