- Associated Press - Monday, April 28, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa lawmakers pushed negotiations on budget and policy bills Monday with hopes of coming to a resolution on the measures so the session can end Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal said he continues to work toward adjournment but that it might not happen until late Tuesday night.

“I’m trying to do my best to create the sense we can get done,” he said.

Work on four budget bills was scheduled for discussion in conference committees Tuesday morning and agreement appeared near. Agreement had been reached on the health and human services budget bill and it was scheduled for Senate floor debate Tuesday afternoon.

The Legislature must complete work on budget bills before adjournment and sometimes policy measures, especially those that Democrats and Republicans have major differences on, fall away.

Sen. Rob Hogg said the school anti-bullying bill in the Senate is likely to die. He said changes made in the Republican-led House on parental notification are unacceptable.

“Chances of that bill being taken up are slim,” said Hogg, a Cedar Rapids Democrat. “I would say it’s on life support.”

The primary change would remove the ability of school administrators to handle incidents of bullying off school grounds, he said.

“The students which have talked to me have all said that’s the No. 1 thing they need schools to be able to do is deal with it because a lot of this conduct is happening off school grounds but has a real impact on school grounds,” he said.

Hogg said the bill has attracted little Republican support. It passed out of the Senate 26-19 in March with only Democrats voting for it. The Republican changes are likely to erode Democratic support, and any changes Democrats would make to correct what they see as shortcomings would likely keep Republicans from backing the measure.

“I don’t see a pathway forward,” he said.

It would be the second of Branstad’s priority policy ideas to run into serious trouble. The other, a tax break encouraging the expansion of high-speed Internet, was defeated in the House on Friday.

Bills can be resurrected at the very end of the session but time is short to find consensus on the debatable portions.

The House sent Branstad another of his priorities: a bill increasing benefits to veterans including an exemption of military retirement pay from income taxes. The goal of the bill is to encourage Iowa veterans to remain in the state and others to move here.

The governor’s fourth priority for the session, the apprenticeship bill, remained on the agenda, but the Senate included job training funds that House leaders oppose.