CEDAR RAPIDS – After their early morning dismissal from Des Moines, the state’s members of the Iowa House returned to their home districts on Thursday, often as most of their constituents were getting ready for work.
A final flurry of legislative activity in Des Moines led to a handful of bills, including allowing Iowans the opportunity to use cannabidiol for relief from seizure disorders and freezing tuition at Iowa’s public universities. Yet a theme of disappointment lingered as the legislators assessed the 2014 session.
At least after taking their power naps after the all-night session that let the Republican-controlled House out at 5:54 a.m. on Thursday.
“This year, the momentum wasn’t there,” said Art Staed (D-Cedar Rapids) on Thursday afternoon. “We started slow and things seemed to drag all the way to the end, actually.”
The 2013 legislative session had large-scale policy items, such as property tax reform, education reform and expanding the state’s health care role as well as funding it. Yet 2014 did not have the same items that politicians build campaigns on.
“There was not a lot of initiatives to get people riled up,” said Walt Rogers, Republican from Cedar Falls. “In the House, we did play it safe. Sure had a strange ending and this last week kind of went long.”
While the Democrat-controlled Senate is expected to adjourn on Friday, the accomplishments from 2014 include freezing college tuition for a second straight year at Iowa, Iowa State and UNI and working to make Iowa more attractive to military veterans through tax and employment incentives.
Yet other issues that would likely have a broad base of support did not pass the House and Senate, such as bills that would strengthen texting and driving laws or anti-bullying laws across the state.
“Things left on the table like bullying or the broadband that could have been done if we could have worked in a more bi-partisan way to get things done,” said Staed. “The momentum we had last year just wasn’t in for this year.”
Anesa Kajtazovic (D-Waterloo) called it a session of “missed opportunities” but it was not as contentious as the 2011 session, which extended into the summer because of deadlock.
“Minimum wage and addressing the income equality was a big piece that we should have addressed,” said Kajtazovic. “Also I was disappointed we did not pass broadband access as well. We have to ensure our homes and businesses are competitive in this economic model.”
Rogers, who was elected to the House in 2010, said he was pleased Republicans were able to contain spending.
“I’m always happy we continue to put together a budget that’s fiscally sound and we do not spend more than we take in,” said Rogers. “That’s a paradigm we had to change when we came in.”
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