- Associated Press - Sunday, January 8, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - In a story Jan. 8 about proposed Iowa legislation, The Associated Press erroneously reported that college students currently can show a student ID at the polls to vote. Iowa doesn’t generally require voters to show an ID at the polls.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Republicans could make sweeping changes in Iowa Legislature

Republicans begin the next session of the Iowa Legislature on Monday with plans to restrict abortion, decrease collective bargaining power for unions and cut taxes despite looming budget constraints


Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Following an election that gave them strong majorities in the state Senate and House, Republicans will take charge of the next session of the Iowa Legislature on Monday with ambitious plans to restrict abortion, decrease collective bargaining power for unions and cut taxes despite looming budget constraints.

Democrats don’t hold a majority in either chamber for the first time in nearly 20 years, so they can do little to stop GOP lawmakers. And action could come quickly as outgoing Gov. Terry Branstad has said he plans to sign legislation into law before he resigns to become the next U.S. ambassador to China.

Here’s a look at some key issues:


Branstad has said he wants to eliminate language in Iowa’s collective bargaining law that allows unions to negotiate health insurance coverage for public workers. Branstad argues the state could simplify that process and save money, though he hasn’t released a specific plan or projected savings. Unions say the move would hurt those workers by raising their health care costs. At a press conference at the Capitol on Thursday, some of those workers expressed reservations about changes to the law, which could extend past health care provisions. Pleasant Hill police officer Adam Choat said the current law ensures officers have a voice on important issues regarding their pay, training and safety. “We should try not to fix what is not broken,” he said.


Republicans confirm they will explore a range of abortion restrictions, though they’ve been mum so far on specifics. A new coalition of anti-abortion groups will lobby for a comprehensive bill during the first week of the session that could include six to 10 items, according to Jenifer Bowen, executive director of Iowa Right to Life. Bowen said the bill won’t include proposals to remove funding for Planned Parenthood or a ban on abortions at certain weeks of pregnancy. Some variations of a so-called 20-week ban are in effect in more than a dozen states. Bowen said exclusions in the bill don’t mean those measures can’t turn up in other legislation.


Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate has announced a bill that would require voters to have identification at the polls, despite little evidence of fraudulent voting in the state. Pate’s office is seeking $1 million to implement the bill, which would require an Iowa driver’s license or other approved ID to vote. College students wouldn’t be able to use their school-issued identification cards. Pate’s office said those students and others could receive free special identification cards, but Democrats contend that process will disenfranchise them and other groups of voters. Monica Biddix with the Iowa Democratic Party said in a statement, “Iowans cannot afford to spend about a million dollars to combat a non-existent problem for the sole purpose of impeding Iowans’ access to the polls.”


Republicans have said for weeks that they want to make changes to Iowa’s tax rules this session, including cuts to corporate and income taxes. “We’re frankly looking at a large multitude of different policies at this stage,” said Sen. Bill Dix, a Republican from Shell Rock who will be elected as Senate majority leader on Monday. But they may face a roadblock from Branstad, who said he supports the idea but also would not formally recommend tax cuts because of the state’s current finances. Iowa’s roughly $7.3 billion budget has a shortfall of about $110 million, and there’s no surplus projected for the budget year that begins in July.


The Iowa Legislature hasn’t increased the state’s minimum wage in a decade, and it’s a fact that’s become more pronounced as nearly all surrounding states raise their wages above the $7.25 federal level. Republicans have not disclosed any plans to increase the rate, but they have confirmed intentions to ban counties from raising their local wages. The issue would impact Johnson, Linn, Wapello and Polk counties, where local officials have approved gradually increased minimums that will top out at different rates, from $10.10 to $10.75.

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