Legislators: Key issues may extend to end of session

Some of the biggest issues in the current legislative session may not reach their conclusion until the end of the session, three area legislators said during a Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce forum.

Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Garwin, Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, and Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, took part in the forum Friday.

Two of the main bills, property tax reform and education reform will appear to go down to the wire.

“I think there is a high probability that (education reform) will go to a conference committee between both bodies,” Smith said.

The Senate education committee has passed an education reform package, which will move to discussion on the floor. One of the parts of the Senate Democrats bill has an increase of the starting teacher salary to $35,000.

“I actually think it needs to be more,” Sodders said.

This past week was funnel week as most bills needed to come out of committee to have a chance to become law this session. It appears the proposed fuel tax bill to help pay for roads and bridges in the state does not have any momentum.

Fisher said he would be in favor of the fuel tax as long as the tax burden to Iowans was lessened in another area at the same time.

There was a little back-and-forth about the proposed voter ID bill. Fisher said it makes common sense to have voters show identification at the polls, and Smith said it would serve as an obstruction to voting.

As some of the bigger, more controversial bills will wait until near the end of the session, Smith said he expects the more non-controversial bills to be passed in the next two weeks.

“Most of these bills will pass with a large majority,” he said.

The next chamber legislative forum will be at noon on March 22 at the Fisher Community Center.