An Iowa legislative conference committee now hopes to do what lawmakers have failed to do since January: find compromise on reforming education. Governor Terry Branstad, the house and the senate all have their own education plans, although they share many similarities in general themes.
Tuesday, the senate education committee, by a party line vote of 9 to 6, struck a house education plan before it and replaced it with the senate version. It is a procedural move that will push the efforts toward what will likely be a 10-person bipartisan group of lawmakers tasked with finding compromise that the full senate, house and governor can support. Legislative leaders are expected to choose the committee members soon so they can come up with a plan that the legislature can pass before the May 3rd scheduled end of the session.
Senator Jodi Ernst, a Red Oak Republican, was one of the 6 votes against the senate education's move. She told colleagues, "I think you know where we stand on this. I would urge my colleagues to vote no."
Ernst and some other Republicans favor reform efforts that would also benefit private schools and families that home school.
Senator Herman Quirmbach, an Ames Democrat, wants to see quick results. He said, "I'm not here to delay at all. I would like to be out of here the third of May. Whether we can do that or now, who knows?"
Quirmbach wants to be included on the conference committee but said he hasn't heard from leadership if that will happen.