CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) - Lawmakers are back home after finishing an extended legislative session. They worked overtime to pass major legislation that will make up the state’s roughly 7.4 billion dollar budget, which begins in July.
A few heavily debated bills surrounded tax reform, abortion, and traffic cameras. Lawmakers on both sides shared their thoughts on the issues Monday.
The tax reform plan was the last item to hold up the session. It includes $2 billion in tax cuts over six years. Republicans hope the cuts will spur economic activity, but democrats call it irresponsible.
“I think in the end we were all able to come together and pass a really historic tax bill that was focused on giving middle class families their hard earned money back,” (R) State Representative Bobby Kaufmann said.
“We have what we might see as a pretty healthy revenue coming in, and so first thing we do is cut that instead of taking care of the services and the responsibilities that we have as a government already,” (D) State Representative Art Staed said.
Traffic cameras became a hot topic after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the DOT could not regulate them. Lawmakers put together rules to keep them in place or ban then together, the effort failed, and now they hope to bring the issue back up in January.
“I think you will see come January that’s going to have to be an issue that we address. There are some extremely passionate people on both sides of that issue, and not even having so much as a compromise language not happen is just not acceptable,” Kaufmann said.
“I think they’ve had a positive effect here locally in terms of keeping the motoring public safer, so we shouldn’t ban them, but there is a role for regulating them to make sure they are being used for public safety purposes,” (D) State Representative Rob Hogg said.
Some could consider the most controversial piece of the session was the amendment to the heartbeat bill.
Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law stating women cannot seek abortions after a heartbeat is detected. That could be as early as five weeks. Democrats said it is an attack on women’s rights, and Republicans said there is a logic to it.
“I just think it gives Iowa a black eye to have the most extreme abortion law in the country. I don’t think that’s what Iowa is about. I think we’re better off having women, and their families, and doctors make those decisions rather government officials,” Hogg said.
“I had a lot of constituents ask me to vote yes, I had a lot of constituents ask me to vote no. The determiner for me, the argument was made that was generally accepted by the public, that life ends when you can no longer to detect a heartbeat, it made sense for me to vote that live begins when you can detect a heartbeat,” Kaufmann said.