DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa lawmakers ended their legislative session early Wednesday, about five weeks behind schedule because of a dispute over education spending.
The Senate and House adjourned just after midnight without reaching an agreement on Gov. Kim Reynolds' proposal to divert $55 million from public schools toward taxpayer-funded scholarships for up to 10,000 students to attend private schools.
Since convening in January, Republicans who hold large majorities in each chamber did work with the governor to pass significant legislation, including big tax cuts that create a flat income tax, ends taxes on retirement pensions and lowers taxes for corporations. When fully implemented, the cuts will lower annual state income by about $2 billion.
Late in the session, the Legislature also dramatically changed Iowa's 44-year-old bottle bill, potentially scaling back a program that is popular with the public but has long been opposed by grocery retailers.
Reynolds also signed a bill that prohibits transgender females from participating in girls high school sports and women’s college athletics, rejecting opponents’ argument that she would harm vulnerable children to solve a nonexistent problem.
She also signed into law a bill that cuts unemployment benefits for Iowans, saying the safety net “has become a hammock” at a time when employers were having trouble filling jobs.
Senate Republicans also for the first time in more than 100 years denied reporters access to the main chamber floor the entire session.