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New Leaders, New Priorities

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It is always hard to predict which issues will get the most attention when legislators return to Des Moines for the legislative session. This year is no different.  We know there is a long list of issues Republican leaders want to address, things they have been unable to do when Democrats controlled the Senate or the Governor's office.  Now that Republicans control the Iowa House, Iowa Senate, and Governor's office, there is no shortage of issues on their "to do" lists.  

But time is short. The Iowa Legislative session will begin on Monday, January 9, 2017, and legislators have only 110 days to complete their work.  While they can go longer, legislators try to get things wrapped up in that four-month window.  So while the list is long, there will not be enough time to tackle it all.  Here are a few things you might see discussed this year:

  • Budget cuts.
  • Voter ID (requiring photo ID to vote and to register to vote).
  • Labor reforms (collective bargaining changes, choice of doctor).
  • Tax reform (what legislative leaders say will be a "top to bottom" tax review).
  • Water quality (how to fund, and what to fund).
  • School choice (vouchers for parents who choose to send kids to private school).
  • Gun law changes (stand your ground; allowing children under 14 to use handguns).
  • Illegal immigration (banning sanctuary cities).
  • Social issues (defunding Planned Parenthood, abortion restrictions, gay marriage)
  • Legalizing fireworks (and the battle over how to spend tax revenues coming in from sales).
  • Expanding access to medical cannabis (so that people with approved conditions can get it in Iowa).
  • Medical malpractice reform (capping non-economic damages paid out in lawsuits, i.e. pain and suffering).
  • Minimum wage (establishing a uniform state-wide minimum wage, not allowing cities/counties to go above).

What actually gets done will depend on a number of factors.  One of those factors is public opinion.  Legislators will listen to what the people in their district are saying. If enough people say the same thing - legislators will listen.  So if you see something on this list that you want to see happen - or do not want to see happen - let your legislator know, and find others to do the same.  As former State Representative Walt Tomenga used to say, "If one person calls me, I have an issue. If two people call me, we have a problem.  If three people call me, it's a crisis."