Majority and minority leaders in the Iowa Legislative leaders said last week they are trying to keep as many options on the table as possible — except when it comes to gun legislation.
Proposals to relax or tighten gun legislation are the “ultimate dog whistle for the base on the left and right,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Des Moines, told reporters at a pre-session press conference in Des Moines Jan. 9. “Dog whistle” refers to political speech using coded language that appears to mean one thing, but has a different meaning for a targeted audience. “It’s hard to have a calm conversation” about gun laws,” he said.
That’s because “guns are important to Iowans,” said Sen. Rick Bertrand, R-Sioux City. And while school is important to Iowans, too, leaders see little likelihood that authorization for armed school guards will be approved in the legislative session that opens Jan. 14.
It’s clear that consensus may be a challenge when it comes to expansion of Medicaid as part of the federal health care reform.
“It’s real important we set aside the partisan rhetoric and look for common ground,” Gronstal said, specifically referring to Democratic proposals to extend Medicaid benefits to another 150,000 Iowans as part of federal health care reform. About 400,000 Iowans are on Medicaid now, according to Gov. Terry Branstad’s office, which estimated a cost increase of 129 percent if Medicaid is expanded.
Meanwhile, proponents of revamping Iowa’s property tax system to reduce commercial rates and slow growth for other property classes are bringing the same hope-springs-eternal attitude to the 2013 legislative session that begins Jan. 14.
“We’re willing to look at anything,” said Mike Ralston, leader of the Iowa Association of Business & Industry, who saw the split-control Legislature come close last year to resolving Iowa’s property tax inequity that dates back to the 1970s.
What do you think? Should one of these issues be the Legislature’s highest priority during this year’s session? Or should lawmakers’ attention be focused in a different area?