Lawmakers reflect on controversial legislation as session enters final stretch

State budget and medical marijuana among remaining issues

STATEHOUSE - It is almost over. The 2017 legislative session could be done by Friday.

While lawmakers try to work out the details of the state budget, they are also reflecting on the ups and downs of the past few months. It has been a whirlwind of a legislative session. The Republican-controlled Statehouse was very successful passing a slew of conservative bills. Now all eyes are on the state budget as lawmakers are ready to go home.

Under the golden dome at the Statehouse, lawmakers are furiously making calls and talking with their colleagues, working fast to wrap up this legislative session.
 
"They've gotten a lot of work done and I'm very pleased by what they've done," said House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow (R) of Windsor Heights.
 
Republicans are thrilled that they have passed a number of sweeping reforms. Those include changes to collective bargaining rights for workers, as well as pro-life legislation banning abortions after 20 weeks of a pregnancy and defunding family planning services like Planned Parenthood.
 
"I think all of them are going to be good for the State of Iowa," Rep. Hagenow said. "I think all of them are going to help grow Iowa's economy, I think they're all going to help individual Iowans be personally successful, find future prosperity."
 
But Democrats are frustrated with this legislation. And despite passionate debate against the changes, they feel the Republicans have stonewalled them.
 
"They have not looked for ways to improve the government or the way the government serves Iowans and I think that's what I find most disturbing," Sen. Matt McCoy (D) of Des Moines said. "I classify this as a war on workers and a war on women."
 
Now, with the clock winding down and legislators ready to leave the Statehouse, all focus is on the state budget. Democrats are upset that Republicans are cutting funds from nearly every department.
 
"We're seeing a variety of our amendments are not passing," Sen. McCoy said.
 
But there is at least one thing lawmakers can agree on.
 
"They're eager to get back home to their families," Rep. Hagenow said. "But they're ready to stay here and do whatever needs to be done to finish up this week."
 
There are a few bills that did not survive this session. They include the anti-Des Moines Water Works bill that would have done away with the metro's water utility, as well as the bottle bill that would have gotten rid of dozens of bottle dispensaries in Iowa.
 
The state budget is one of the last pieces of legislation to be discussed this session. Lawmakers expect budget debates to end by Friday.

 


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