by Charlotte Eby - Managing Director of Government Affairs, LS2group
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Legislative “funnel” deadline looming
Lawmakers raced this week to advance bills before next Friday’s so-called “funnel” deadline. It’s the day policy bills must gain committee approval in one chamber to remain alive for the remainder of the legislative session.
Dozens of subcommittee meetings were scheduled each day this week, creating a chaotic atmosphere at the Capitol. Among some of the higher profile proposals to advance in the House included a constitutional amendment declaring there is not a right to an abortion.
Statehouse observers predict another hectic committee schedule next week. Tax and spending bills are not subject to the funnel and are often considered near the end of session. Key legislators will start crafting the fiscal year 2021 budget when they get a report in March projecting state revenues.
Face of Iowa Caucuses debacle resigns
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price stepped down from his post this week, taking responsibility for the disastrous failure to timely report results from the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. Rather than quickly declaring a winner on caucus night, it took several days for results to trickle in from more than a thousand precincts around the state. In the meantime, Iowa’s caucuses were the subject of disparaging headlines, harsh criticism from political pundits, and even the butt of a joke during the Academy Awards.
Chairman Price called the job one of the greatest honors of his life and defended the work of the party, but ultimately apologized for the failures. “The fact is that Democrats deserved better than what happened on caucus night,” Price said. “As chair of this party, I am deeply sorry for what happened and bear the responsibility for any failures on behalf of the Iowa Democratic Party.”
Nearly a week later, Pete Buttigieg was the apparent winner with a narrow victory over Bernie Sanders, amid claims of reporting irregularities and calls for a re-canvass from critics.
As the first presidential primary contest, Iowa has long enjoyed a front row to electoral politics, an advantage other states have tried to capture for themselves. Advocates of having the first contest in another state renewed their calls to put more diverse states first, but it’s uncertain at this time what the primary calendar in 2024 will look like.
Governor Reynolds unveils Invest in Iowa bills
Gov. Kim Reynolds unveiled a legislative package this week that includes broad income and property tax reforms to lower the tax burden for Iowans, as well as funneling more dollars to mental health services and cleaning up Iowa waterways.
Calling the plan a “bold vision,” Reynolds said Invest in Iowa will have immediate results for economic competitiveness and overall quality of life. Leaders from agriculture commodity groups, and taxpayers’ rights and mental health advocates joined Reynolds for a news conference laying out the legislation.
“This kind of meaningful tax reform and investment will not only boost paychecks, but put Iowa on the map as a beacon of economic opportunity,” Reynolds said. “Now that our bill has been introduced, I look forward to continuing this conversation and will be taking the conversation out to Iowans, with a series of town halls throughout the state.”
The first of a series of town halls were planned in Oskaloosa and Ottumwa.