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Year of Big Ideas at Statehouse Brings Debate over Big Opportunities or Big Problems

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  In Iowa, Republicans have big-time power at the Statehouse, and they have been passing big changes.

They contend they had a big mandate for Iowans to bring a new way of thinking. Democrats push back that they will cause big pain for families by choosing business interests over workers.

Republican legislative majorities have already approved major changes:

--Limiting public unions' collective bargaining rights

--Reducing businesses costs in worker compensation cases

--Blocking local government from making their own guidelines that are different from the state when it comes to issues like minimum wages

And Republicans still have big plans for more:

--Dismantling the Des Moines Water Works board

--Limiting abortions

--Expanding gun rights

--Eliminating all state funding for groups that provide abortions like Planned Parenthood

Democrats including State Senator Charles "Chaz" Allen, a Newton Democrat, contend the Republican priorities are geared too much in favor of helping businesses, rather than Iowa families.

"I've always said for the past years there has been a Republican seawall and a Democratic seawall," Allen said. "We've been able to drive right down the middle and not try to do things that are too far to the left or too far to the fight. But obviously with the new makeup of the legislature, they are doing the conservative things they think need to be done."

Allen took to Twitter to look for humor because of the contentious debate Monday night when Republicans agreed on workers' compensation changes and the pre-emption bill that blocked local authorities control to set their own policies in cases like the minimum wage. He knows it has been a rough year for Democrats in the minority.

Allen said of his tweets, "I was just keeping it light, I guess. I thought it was an opportunity to throw something out with what we were doing and make it lighthearted, I guess."

Republican State Senator Amy Sinclair, of Allerton, believes voters gave her party the majority to bring major change to the state.

"We now have the opportunity to move them forward because we have been given that instruction from the people of Iowa, " she said.

She disagrees with Democrats that her party is putting the needs of business over families. Although, she does admit the majority party is targeting help for businesses first.

"I'm married to an educator. My sister's an educator. Neither of them have questioned where we are going on those issues," Sinclair said. "We are family people. I have three children. The things we are doing will improve the working environment. People will be hired. We will create jobs. We will improve the quality of life in Iowa."

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