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Iowans Now Wait: What Will Republicans Do With Their New Power?

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DES MOINES, Iowa–Are Republicans feeling extra confident these days? Yes, they sure are and with good reason: they have more power at the Iowa Statehouse than they have had in nearly 20 years.

Control the governor’s mansion? Yes, Governor Terry Branstad is still in charge there, until Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds takes over when Branstad leaves to become the next U.S. Ambassador to China.

Control the Iowa House? Yes, in fact, Republicans now have 59 of the 100 seats, thanks to their successful 2016 election.

Control the Iowa Senate? Yes, Republicans took back control from Democrats and now hold 29 of the 50 seats.

What will they do with their new-found power? Here are some possibilities:

  • Get rid of the law that mandates legislators set school funding 18 months in advance. Lawmakers routinely ignore the law anyway, but the law sets no punishment for ignoring it. Republicans have argued it is too difficult to accurately predict state revenue so far in the future.
  • Give schools more flexibility with spending.
  • Change the issues state workers can negotiate during collective bargaining.
  • Ban traffic cameras.
  • Stop state tax dollars from going to Planned Parenthood, unless that organization agrees to no longer perform abortions.
  • Find a funding stream for water quality improvements.

House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Clear Lake, said during her opening remarks of the new legislation session Monday, “I am confident we arrive here with common goals. Yes, we will have our differences. Sometimes those differences will be profound, more often they will be minor and easily resolved. Through all of it, we must not lose sight of the fact that we are here in an effort to move our state forward.”

But House Minority Leader Mark Smith, a Democrat from Marshalltown, offered a warning for the majority party during his remarks, “In recent weeks, I’ve read reports of your agenda to take away women’s rights, voting rights, and worker’s rights. If you decide to take those divisive issues up this year, be prepared for a fight. Our goal is to make the economy work again for all Iowans and our job is to hold this chamber accountable when it isn’t doing what is best for them.”