Although the 2022 Iowa legislative session has gone over 100 days—the traditional end date— there’s still no conclusion in sight.
“Just because they’re narrowing the number of issues that are left to be determined does not mean that they are near an agreement,” Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls (D-Coralville).
The main roadblock is Gov. Kim Reynolds’ private school voucher program, which would use public taxpayer money to create scholarship funds for eligible students to pay for private school expenses.
Senate Republicans passed the bill, Senate File 2369, in March, but Republicans in the House have not advanced the proposal, passing their own version of an education bill that didn’t include it. Wahls said there’s no indication of whether they’re any closer to a compromise, either.
That’s not the only problem in the way. The legislature must still pass the budget and come together on proposed cuts to unemployment benefits and on a workforce bill. The current unemployment proposal would cut the time for unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to just 16 for people who are laid off through no fault of their own.
Wahls said the obstacles don’t even cover the types of issues that need to be solved for Iowans.
“Here we are in overtime and they still haven’t done anything to address the Reynolds’ workforce crisis,” Wahls said. “They haven’t done anything to fix Iowa’s broken sex abuse laws, they haven’t done anything to fix our broken child care system, to tackle affordable housing. I mean it’s a long, long list of stuff they haven’t done yet so we’re not holding our breath.”
House Minority Leader Rep. Jennifer Konfrst (D-Windsor Heights) said the House is scheduled to come in Tuesday and Wednesday, but she doesn’t anticipate anything being solved because there isn’t an agreement.
Instead, she said Republicans are fighting over special interests and the governor’s demands.
“You would think with a trifecta this should be pretty easy for them to shut down,” Konfrst said. “But it seems that there’s a lot of infighting among Republicans in both the House, the Senate, and the governor and they can’t seem to come to an agreement even when they’re in charge of everything.”
In the meantime, a lot of these meetings are happening behind closed doors, without input from Iowans or from Democratic leaders. And though new bills could come up, they aren’t the focus.
“There are a few last-minute things that could come up but all of that isn’t what’s keeping us from being back here,” Konfrst said. “What’s keeping us from being back here is that they don’t have a deal on the budget and they don’t have a deal on vouchers.”
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