DES MOINES, Iowa — The 90th General Assembly convenes on Monday for the start of the new legislative session.
Iowa Republicans spoke with WHO 13 to outline priorities for this session, the three highlighted were property taxes, school choice and abortion legislation. Iowa Democrats discussed how they would combat these policy ideas, with Republicans holding a super majority in the State Senate and a majority in the Iowa House.
“My top priority every year when we come into session is to keep the promises we had made to voters,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, (R) from Grimes.
School vouchers will be center stage this session, as Governor Kim Reynolds said all last year, she is not giving up on the bill.
“We’re not ready to kind of roll out any bills or anything yet, but I know the governor has been working extremely hard on a proposal (on school choice),” said Whitver. “I would expect and hope she brings that next week to the session and then we’ll get to work on it.”
Last session the governor’s school voucher bill failed due to lack of support among Iowa House republicans. Whitver said while on the campaign trail that parents stated they wanted options for their kids, and this type of legislation stemmed from COVID-19 lockdowns. There was not a specific bill Whitver could reference to yet, but Iowa Democrats have said they are hearing what could be in the works.
“The latest we’re hearing is that the governor has proposed that there are no income limits on school vouchers, we haven’t seen that proposal yet, but that is what we are hearing,” said House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, (D) from Windsor Heights.
“So far we know that Republicans want to defund the public schools and send public money to unaccountable private institutions,” said Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, (D) from Coralville.
The sweeping income tax reform came earlier in the 2022 session than lawmakers had imagined. This session the republican majority will be looking at restructuring and cutting portions of property tax.
“It’s something that I think will take quite a bit of time to work through during the session because it’s so complicated, but it’s something we’ll get to work on right away,” said Whitver.
Konfrst and Wahls said that Democrats are for tax relief for middle class Iowans, but will oppose any bill that cuts taxes for the state’s wealthiest individuals.
“I would say that Democrats are concerned about high property taxes on middle class homeowners, and I think that we’re ready and willing to work to try to provide relief in a fair way,” said Wahls. “but what we don’t want is another tax giveaway to the ultra-rich that leaves communities and middle-class families shortchanged.”
Lastly, on a potential abortion bill, Whitver confirmed that the senate would wait until the state supreme court rules on the fetal heartbeat bill before they draft a bill. Democrats said that whether or not Republicans wait for court action, they will be ready in the first week to fight back against abortion restrictions.
The session is gaveled in on Monday at 10 a.m. in both the Iowa House and Senate. Governor Reynolds’ Condition of the State Speech is at 6 p.m. on Tuesday where she will make clear her goals for this session.