Legislative funnel narrows focus for state lawmakers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Legislative funnel narrows focus for state lawmakers

State lawmakers have a better idea of what bills may pass this year - after their self-imposed deadline passed.

"Funnel Day" is the deadline when bills that haven't made it out of committee are not pursued for the rest of the legislative session.

Budget matters and other economic issues aren't subject to the deadline - and some bills have an outside shot of being brought back if lawmakers like.

But a wide range of bills that were on the table will have to wait til next year.

Chief among the options to raise revenues that won't be up for debate this spring - an increase in the gas tax.

It died in committee after not picking up Governor Chet Culver's support.

He vowed to veto a gas tax increase.

Also shelved for at least another year?

Changes to Iowa's smoking law.

Some wanted the law repealed while others wanted it strengthened to include casinos.

You'll still be able to drive while talking on a cell phone.

A bill that would require hands-free devices when you're behind the wheel didn't gain enough support.

Pressing on?

Labor issues including the prevailing wage and fair share bills will continue to be up for debate, as will expanding unemployment benefits, and raising hunting fees for people from out-of-state.

Budget issues won't be known until the 20th when lawmakers find out how much revenue the state will collect next year.

That's when a flurry of activity will start.

The session is supposed to end May 1st.

Lawmakers plan to adjourn before then.

Online Reporter:  Bob Waters

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