Last call for the Legislature?

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Forget nixing Daylight Saving Time. Maybe lawmakers should be contemplating quitting time.

The Globe-Gazette in Mason City, one of the papers I grew up reading, filed an editorial this weekend thanking the Legislature for balancing the state’s “checkbook,” namely by plugging a sizable gap in the current year’s budget. The paper also suggested what lawmakers might do next.

“Now, pack your bags and go home,” the editorial suggested.

I’ll forgive the Globe-Gazette for forgetting lawmakers still have to approve a budget plan for the next fiscal year, starting in July. It’s just so easy to get distracted by this Legislature as it zips like a tipsy hummingbird from one dubious debate to another.

From what it’s seen so far, the Globe-Gazette fears the session is “only going to get worse.” Seems about right.

Republicans running the joint struck a mighty blow against abortions by defunding an organization that helps women avoid the sort of unplanned pregnancies that lead to abortions. They’re contemplating allowing more parents to opt their kids out of required vaccinations over fears stoked by junk science, but still resist allowing sick Iowans to obtain medical marijuana. The science simply isn’t in on cannabis, critics claim.

It’s possible this Legislature will create a new felony aimed at those very rare instances when protesters block a highway. And yet it may outlaw cameras that catch thousands of people routinely speeding through Cedar Rapids.

There’s been talk about scrapping Daylight Saving Time, but no visible progress on the issue of saving Iowa waterways from pollution. The champions of small government clearly prefer big state authority to decision making by local governments.

Restrictions on firearms may be lifted while legislators erect new bureaucratic barriers to voting. Ideally, we could have both gun rights and voting rights, but these are hardly ideal times.

Legislators who filled our mailboxes last fall with promises to make our schools great again have approved a historically paltry K-12 funding package, forcing districts to cut staff and programs. The world-class-schools governor, who called for an increase double what lawmakers are offering, isn’t lifting a finger to fight for more bucks.

Gov. Terry Branstad’s signature education achievement is an ambitious program for improving the teaching profession. Now, the Republican Legislature is preparing to change collective bargaining laws with the apparent goal of making it tougher for those teachers to get a raise.

Drew Klein of Americans for Prosperity took to these pages Sunday to call for collective bargaining “reform” while decrying our bloated government and its high-priced employees.

You may know who teaches your kids, fights fires, and plows snow. You can even find out how much they’re paid. But if you want to know who bankrolls Americans for Prosperity, tough darts. The group doesn’t disclose its donors. I bet they’re already pretty prosperous.

I know, I know, victory and newfound power can be intoxicating. But for this Legislature, “last call” might be in order.

l Comments: (319) 398-8452; todd.dorman@thegazette.com

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