- Associated Press - Monday, May 5, 2014

Quad-City Times. May 2, 2014.

Meager results from bitter session

Iowa lawmakers limp away from Des Moines with a meager list of legislation and a pile of undone work that succumbed to election year pressure and Gov. Terry Branstad’s mounting management scandals.

The end of the session devolved into legislative hearings on the governor’s hush-money scandal, unearthed by Des Moines Register reporters who found solid evidence that Branstad appointees authorized secret payments to keep dismissed state workers quiet. Democrats pushed for disclosure, but resisted Republican efforts to disclose the cause for dismissal along with the secret payouts. Consequently, no new laws were passed to keep this from happening again.

The flap deepened partisan rifts, making compromise on so many issues impossible.

Consequently, lawmakers go home without expanding broadband to rural counties, without expanding preschool and without fixing the Iowa Juvenile Home, closed due to state mismanagement.

The biggest accomplishment is a welcome omission: No gas tax hike. There was no way Republicans or Democrats could support any kind of tax increase while the state enjoys surpluses and rising tax revenue.

Lawmakers actually collaborated to permit heavily restricted use of one form of marijuana extract for one type of ailment. The bill allowing some epileptic patients use of a non-intoxicating cannabis oil extract isn’t groundbreaking; it’s overdue compassion for a handful of people forced to go out of state to seek treatment for themselves and their children.

Lawmakers dug a bit deeper to help pay for a state university tuition freeze. And they altered tax law to exempt military retirement pay from income taxes, just like Illinois and many other states.

Election year legislative sessions always are hyper partisan. And Iowa’s version pales compared to Illinois. Still, lawmakers go home leaving Iowans with little to celebrate and much to debate through the upcoming campaign season.

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Globe Gazette. May 4, 2014.

Governor, sign the cannabis oil legislation

Whether the recently concluded session of the Iowa Legislature was a success pretty much depends - as is the case in most years - on who you talk to.

Remember, an election is on the horizon and that no doubt dictated a lot of what took place under the big dome in Des Moines.

Story Continues →