Both parties in Iowa Legislature say their priorities are advancing

Lawmakers hit first self-imposed deadline for moving bills through process

Both parties declared victory Thursday as they approached the Iowa Legislature’s first self-imposed deadline for moving bills through the legislative process.

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, cited “great work” by his caucus to “focus on those things we said we would focus on,” including education reform and property tax relief.

“All our priorities are moving forward,” added Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs. That includes education reform, investing in a skilled work force, making health care more affordable and tax cuts for small businesses. Both leaders made a point of talking about their focus on pocketbook issues.

“You know, I think it’s a very focused General Assembly,” Paulsen said. “The electorate sent a message. They want us focused on jobs and the economy.”

So Democrats have focused efforts “to grow Iowa’s economy, grow family income, support the middle class,” Gronstal said.

Funnel deadlines bring disappointment for some lawmakers and interests groups who back issues that don’t advance to floor debate, Paulsen said.

“My guess is that all 150 legislators would have something they are disappointed in, something they are excited about,” Paulsen said. “That’s just part of the legislative process.

He and Gronstal were optimistic about reaching consensus on a variety of their priorities more quickly than in recent years. They’ve found that sending major pieces of legislation to House-Senate conference committee produces results. So this year, they want to send priorities to conference committees sooner rather than later.

On property tax reform and other issues, the speaker said, House Republicans are working hard “not to draw lines in the sand, trying to keep doors open for conversation.”

Gronstal expressed confidence in a process where “people of good faith from both parties sit down in a room together, talk about what the issues are, talk about what the differences are, talk about what’s important to them and look for common ground.”

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