Lawmakers already have several bills filed for 2011 - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Lawmakers already have several bills filed for 2011

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Iowa lawmakers are still days away from starting their 2011 session, but several state boards, departments, and representatives are already submitting legislation they'd like to see dealt with this year.

The prefiled bills are as varied as the groups that submit them.

The Judicial Branch is asking to ban law-breakers from donating money in lieu of performing community service. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources wanting to crack down on boating while intoxicated. Even Benton County's own Representative Dawn Pettengill is inquiring about a sales tax exemption on textbooks.

Two other pre-filed bills caught our interest -- as they are in direct opposition to one another. The Iowa Board of Pharmacy is seeking to re-classify marijuana as a Schedule II drug, allowing doctors to prescribe it to patients. Meanwhile, the Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy wants lawmakers to keep the drug as a Schedule I drug.

A couple other bills stick out as interesting. A pair of representatives are pitching the idea of giving tax credits to employers who repay student loans for their workers. The credit could be worth as much as $25,000 for the employer.

Another bill, also from the Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy, would require health insurance groups to cover all mental health conditions in the same way they would cover any other illness. This includes treatment for alcohol and drug abuse.

There is one more thing to consider here. These 59 bills, along with the hundreds of other bills lawmakers will consider, have to make it through committee. This year's "funnel week" deadline is March 11th. That's when we'll know which bills stand a chance at becoming law.

To take a look at all the pre-filed bills yourself, click here.

You're also encouraged to contact your local representative, and talk about the issues that matter to you, before the session begins.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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