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Legislature Enters FInal Weeks (Maybe)

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With just two weeks left in the legislative session, legislators have not made much headway in finishing up discussions on the really tough issues that remain.  We have heard there may be a breakthrough in the Education Reform discussion. You can see the differences between the House and Senate here. But no progress is being made on budgets, property tax reform, and Medicaid expansion.  To top that off, we are hearing that decisions on the ongoing redesign of the mental health and disability services system will probably be put on hold until a decision is made on Medicaid expansion.

It does not at this time seem possible that the Republican-controlled House, the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Governor will all find a middle ground on these very complicated issues before May 3, when legislators stop receiving their expense money.  After that time, legislators will be paying their hotel bills, mileage and meals on their own, and that can add up quickly.  Usually that's when the legislature goes into a kind of hibernation.  Leaders bring everyone to the Capitol for one day a week, and then send them home.  Only leaders and the handful of legislators working on each issue will come to Des Moines to continue their work on negotiations.

It's a painful process, and one that isn't real visible to the public.  Legislators often don't know what's going on, and that makes it difficult for them to advocate for their constituents.  There are also rumors of adjourning without an agreement on property tax reform and Medicaid expansion, and coming back for a special session this summer to address those two issues. Either way, it sounds like we're in for at least another month of work at the Capitol.