Bills die as Iowa Legislature faces deadline
March 8, 2013
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Some of the hundreds of bills introduced in the Iowa Legislature will die this week as lawmakers run up against a self-imposed deadline.
Most high-profile measures dealing with such issues as property tax changes and education reform are moving through the process. But others dealing with gay marriage, abortion and gun control won't survive the Friday deadline.
Lawmakers have finished up work for the week and won't return to the Capitol until Monday.
Under the Legislature's rules, referred to as "funnel week," bills die if they haven't been approved by a committee by Friday, though they can be eligible the following year and lawmakers occasionally use maneuvers to revive a bill toward the end of the session.
The Legislative Services Agency says 478 bills were introduced in the House this year and 354 in the Senate. Last year, 640 House and 478 Senate bills were introduced.
Legislative leaders said they are pleased priority bills survived the deadline.
Republicans expressed frustration that measures they have long pushed, such as abortion restrictions and seeking a public vote on gay marriage, have again failed, but they said they weren't surprised.
"Those issues are extremely important to House Republicans ... but Senate Democrats are going to block those initiatives," said House Speaker Kevin Paulsen, R-Hiawatha.
Bills that would have reinstated the death penalty and allowed people to carry guns on school grounds also failed to meet the deadline.
Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, said he was disappointed that legislation that would have sent part of this year's budget surplus back to taxpayers never saw committee discussion and failed.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said all of the Senate Democrats' key priorities have survived the deadline.
"Our key issues about education reform, the skill shortage in Iowa, tax breaks for working families and small businesses, investing in Iowa's economy ... all of our key priorities came through," he said.
But efforts backed by Senate Democrats to legalize medical marijuana, require minors riding mopeds to wear helmets and legalize Internet poker have failed.
About 90 Senate bills and 60 House bills cleared the deadline and will survive for floor debate. And it's always possible a bill considered finished will be resurrected.
"Nothing is ever really dead around here," said Carmine Boal, the chief House clerk.
Bill that failed to meet deadline include:
- Gay marriage: Measure would begin process of amending state constitution to prohibit gay marriage.
- Mandatory safety helmets: Minors would be required to wear a safety helmet while riding a mo-ped.
- Abolishing Education Department: The Department of Education would be eliminated and replaced by a state board of education.
- Guns on school grounds: People with a permit to carry a weapon could do so on school grounds.
- Medical marijuana: People with chronic illnesses and severe pain could get 2 ounce of legal marijuana from a nonprofit dispensary.
- Internet poker: Internet poker games would be legal in homes, casinos and racetracks but regulated by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.
- Webcam abortions: Doctors would be prohibited from prescribing abortion medication via a webcam consultation.
- Traffic cameras: Municipalities wanting to place a new traffic camera would apply for a permit from the Department of Transportation. Local governments would also need to justify existing cameras.
- Death penalty: People convicted of first-degree murder in which a victim was kidnapped or sexually abused or if the victim was a child could be sentenced to death.
- No-fault divorce: Parents of minor children would be prohibited from divorce unless one partner committed adultery, a felony and sent to prison, sexually abused the children or spouse or had abandoned the family for at least a year.
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