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Governor, Top Lawmakers Outline 2020 Legislative Priorities

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- With less than a week until the Iowa legislative session begins, the governor and top lawmakers are detailing their top priorities for 2020.

At the annual AP legislative forum, both Democratic and Republican leadership signaled potential bipartisanship on issues like child care and workforce development.

"I’ve already heard of some of my friends on the other side talking about very similar issues," newly elected Speaker of the House Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, said. "I think there's some opportunity to work on some important issues to Iowans together."

Senate President Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, said workforce is a huge challenge for the state.

"We need to find ways to help train people in the state to upscale. We need to find ways to get more people to work in our workforce and find ways to bring more people into our state," he said.

Republican leaders also expressed interest in building on tax policy changes, like tax cuts, but if and only when their sweeping 2018 tax reform is fully implemented.

"If the opportunity rises and there’s room to do that, we’ll entertain that, but our priority is to make sure what we passed is implemented," Grassley said.

Meanwhile, Democrats want to shift that focus.

"If we’re going to talk about taxes, we have to talk about budget and obligation of the state," House Minority Leader Todd Prichard, D-Charles City, said. "And not to mention make sure Iowa leads the state in education, which we don’t anymore."

For Republican Governor Kim Reynolds, criminal justice reform will remain a priority; especially her push for a Constitutional amendment that would automatically restore convicted felons' voting rights after they serve their time.

Prichard expressed frustration that Reynolds hasn't used an executive order to make this happen now.

"Iowa in my mind has a black eye on this issue. We’re not with the rest of the country," he said. "This hesitation is preventing people who have the right to vote and time is of the essence."

Currently, her office is dealing with a backlog of 347 applications of convicted felons appealing to have their rights restored. Reynolds said her office will review all of those applications in time for Feb. 3.

"We have made the commitment to get them done prior the the February caucuses," she said.

Other topics leaders discussed included mental health and trying to expand medical marijuana laws again, after Reynolds vetoed a bill to do such in 2019.

One thing Grassley said voters can expect to see is politicians working in their best interest.

"Not decisions based on who may or may not keep the majority but that we have the ability to address the concerns we're hearing," he said.

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