Week 19 of the Session: Week 3 of Overtime. This week the Iowa Senate did not act on any legislation, as Senate Democrats lacked a member of their caucus and did not possess the 26 votes necessary to pass any bill that would result on a party line vote (and all budget bills in the Senate this year have been adopted on party line votes).
The House did convene on Wednesday for a full day of floor work – passing their version of the final piece of the budget (called the Standings bill) and also passing legislation that would legalize the sale and use of fireworks in Iowa, beginning December 1, 2015 (similar, but slightly more limited, to a bill that sits on the Senate calendar).
It appears both the House and Senate will return to work on the Tuesday following Memorial Day. However, lacking an overall agreement on key budget issues, it is unlikely either Chamber will be working the entire week (there simply isn’t enough other work to do until the budget targets are successfully negotiated).
As described previously there will be no run for adjournment until two key decisions are made.
Two key decisions must be made before the House and Senate can make a true run for adjournment:
1. School finance: the House and Senate must agree on a total spending amount for K-12 school spending. This has been at a stalemate since late January with Majority Republicans in the House standing firm for an increase of 1.25% and Majority Democrats in the Senate at 4.0% (though, they did offer to split the difference with the House and settle on 2.62%).
This week the House did start the process of moving legislation setting the growth level for schools in FY17 at 2.0%. But there remains no resolution of the growth number for FY16 (which begins this July 1, 2015).
2. Overall Spending Total: before any true run to adjournment can begin, House and Senate leadership must agree on a total spending level for the general fund. To date, House Republicans and Senate Democrats are $182 million apart in total spending. Again, while there have been significant talks ongoing behind the scenes involving House and Senate leadership (and the Governor’s office), there has been no real progress reported.