Iowa lawmakers share intentions for new legislative session

Iowa Statehouse.
Iowa Statehouse.
Published: Jan. 8, 2023 at 10:49 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - On Monday, the 90th Iowa General Assembly gets underway in Des Moines. KCRG-TV9 spoke with several lawmakers ahead of the 2023 session to learn what Iowans should expect to come out of the Capitol.

“Education is the most important topic of the session,” Rep.-Elect Jeff Shipley, R-House District 87, said. “Obviously that is the majority of the budget and where people rely on the state the most.”

Sen.-Elect Molly Donahue, D-Senate District 37, agreed. “As an educator, I would really like to make sure that we protect our public schools and the 500,000 kids that go to public schools.”

The two lawmakers disagreed, however, when it came to school vouchers. A plan to move public dollars to private schools failed to advance last year. The proposal was backed by Gov. Kim Reynolds, and opposed by Democrats and some Republicans. This issue is expected to return to lawmakers’ desks quickly with the new session.

“We have known that that was going to be one of [Reynolds’] top priorities. And in fact, we’ve heard [it] will be in the first week. So the Senate should see that legislation immediately,” Donahue said.

Donahue was against the voucher plan, while Shipley supported it.

“I think the devil is going to be in the details, as always. I think a lot of people are eagerly awaiting to see what the Governor is going to propose. But no matter what the Governor puts forward, I think it’s going to enjoy a lot of support,” Shipley said.

Other issues lawmakers brought up as topics to watch during the coming session: inflation, reproductive rights, and property taxes.

Shipley said about the property tax discussion, “there’s a lot of interest in reducing property taxes that, even though maybe the property tax rates themselves have stayed the same, the assessed values are going up.”

Rep.-Elect Sami Scheetz, D-House District 78, said it wasn’t impossible for property taxes to come down, but he said caution in slashing budgets needed to be part of the equation.

“We need to be really careful when we talk about property taxes. How’s that going to impact your infrastructure, roads and bridges?” Scheetz said.

As for reproductive rights, both Democratic lawmakers TV9 spoke with said they expected Republicans to make moves to further restrict those rights.

“The extreme group, I should say, in Iowa definitely would like to get to that six-week, if not altogether, banning abortion,“ Donahue said. “We as a Democratic caucus will do everything we can to influence change on that, to make sure that we can protect women’s right, choose protect healthcare, and people’s freedoms.”

Republicans hold significant majorities in both the House and Senate. Scheetz said the number of new lawmakers at the Capitol this session, in both parties, could mean new partnerships.

“It’s going to be a really fresh group on both sides of the aisle that hopefully will bring fresh ideas and opportunities for collaboration in really positive ways,” Scheetz said. “I’m 26, there’s a couple of other Republican legislators that are in their 20s. So I’m hoping, too, that when we talk about things that are like important to my age cohort, about having people stay in Iowa and not leave and make sure that they choose to raise their families here...I think it will be really effective and important to have, even on the other side of the aisle, people who understand that.”