DES MOINES, Iowa -- It's move in day at the Iowa State Capitol as Iowa lawmakers head back to work on Monday.
This year's legislative session is a session unlike any other the state has seen in more than a decade. It's the Republican Party who has the all the power, controlling both the House and Senate, and the governor's mansion for the first time since 1998. Much of what happens this session will leave Democratic lawmakers playing defense. Iowa House Democratic leader Mark Smith took to Twitter saying, “there's trouble ahead.”
There are several big issues on tap to be debated over. The first: minimum wage. Right now, four Iowa counties have approved higher minimum wage rates than the state wage. Some groups want higher wages statewide while opponents don't think counties should set their own rates.
That isn’t the only major money issue lawmakers will focus on. The state has to find a way to cut nearly $100 million from this year’s budget. Governor Branstad says the state can't afford to cut income taxes because of this, but is open to tax policy changes.
Other items on the agenda include water quality efforts, eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood, and collective bargaining changes for state employees.
A once-popular proposed bill that will not be introduced this session is the “Suck it up buttercup" bill.
Republican Representative Bobby Kaufmann nixed the bill that would prohibit public universities and colleges from using tax dollars to offer special counseling services to students upset over election results. However, he still plans to introduce a bill making it easier for law enforcement to criminally charge protestors who block roadways or interstates.
Prior to the session's start, there are already dozens of bills pre-filed and up for consideration, including one that would make texting while driving a primary offense and another that would ban all traffic cameras.
The session begins at 10 a.m. on Monday.