As Iowa’s legislative session slips further into overtime, the chirping on both sides of the political aisle gets more interesting.
Republicans, who control both chambers, claim some serious, important work is being hammered out.
Republican leaders say there is broad agreement on rewriting the state tax code, although working out the details is time consuming. The varying plans call for tax relief ranging from $1.3 billion to $2 billion over five years.
There also are differences over ending federal deductibility and the timetable for implementation so Iowans get the full benefit of federal income tax cuts.
“I think we’re really close,” House Speaker Linda Upmeyer said last week.
Meanwhile, Democrats were taking their shots.
“It’s time to, like, get it together and move ahead here, said Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City. “People are ready to get back to their lives at home.”
Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, added:
“The clock still is ticking – tick, tick, tick, tick. The taxpayers are paying.”
Indeed, the $10,000 a day it costs to be in session is adding up.
For those who are hoping for a combination of productivity and efficiency, one item we can hang our hats on: Legislators’ expenses are no longer covered when sessions extend beyond 100 days.
“Sure, we’re all disappointed we’re not done, but we want to do it right,” Upmeyer said. “We came here to do the people’s work. I think they want it done correctly.”
Sen. Mark Chelgren, R-Ottumwa, noted it’s the quality of the legislative work that counts the most.
“I believe the last two years in this chamber and at the Capitol have been historic,” he said. “I think the legislation we tackled and the work that we have done for the people of Iowa has been incredible. It has been probably the best session in the history of Iowa and I, for one, am willing to stay as long as it takes to make sure we make history again if necessary.”
Some other issues that have not gained traction as of last week:
The Senate has yet take up an opioid bill the House sent over, and the House has not taken up a medical cannabis bill a Senate committee has approved.
In 2015, the 86th Iowa General Assembly adjourned after 145 days, leaving many issues unresolved. We came away feeling like a lot of time was wasted. So, we’re eagerly awaiting this session’s final decisions.
We would be remiss without mentioning the fact this is an election year. So, we’re certain those whose terms are up want to get this right — or at least avoid taking action that will be heavily criticized.
But inaction has its critics, as well.
The question is: Will the accomplishments of this legislative session balance with the time spent in overtime?
The odds in favor decrease with each passing day.