Lawmakers wrap up 2010 session with final "catch-all" bill - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Lawmakers wrap up 2010 session with final "catch-all" bill


DES MOINES (KWWL) -- Iowa lawmakers wrapped up their final day of the 2010 Legislative Session Tuesday afternoon. The House and Senate approved one last piece of legislation, known as the "standings bill". It moved quickly through both chambers, although it was a close vote in the House - with 51 to 48 approving the measure.

This bill sets the fiscal year 2011 budget at $5.3 billion. It's also considered a catch-all bill, including new protections for bicyclists and funding for flood risk programs.

Money for schools and state agencies make up the bulk of the standings bill. The final budget for State Foundation Aid for Iowa schools is just shy of $2.5 billion. The governor says the commitment is $60 million more than last year's budget, while lawmakers report it as an increase of $147 million.

Both Democrats and Republicans realize it's not going to be enough for most school districts, who will still have to make major cuts. As part of Tuesday's bill, districts that do not have enough money in cash reserves can opt to raise property taxes -- a sore spot for Republican lawmakers. The bill also protects $314 million for teacher salaries -- that is, if districts can afford to keep them on the payroll.

Non-union state workers are looking at a pay freeze under the measure. Another money-saving move: all employees will receive paychecks on a semi-monthly basis, instead of biweekly. And Administrative Services will work toward a centralized state payroll system.

Other add-ons that caught our eye:

-You'll face a $250 fine if you drive too close to, or throw anything at, someone bicycling down a highway.

-New single- or duo- family homes will not require sprinkler systems, something the Fire Marshall pushed for.

-A new campaign will encourage Iowans to take responsibility for the state's water quality and flood mitigation.

As you might expect, Democrats and Republicans have differing views on the success of this year's session. Democrats say the legislature responsibly balanced the budget. Republicans believe their counterparts pushed the bulk of the budget problems on the backs of property taxpayers.

Lawmakers wrapped up the session one day earlier than their 80 day goal. Governor Chet Culver commended their hard work, praising an approved $5 million in assistance for small businesses. Lawmakers also voted to continue funding Governor Culver's I-JOBS program.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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