Following "Funnel Week", state lawmakers take time to listen - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Following "Funnel Week", state lawmakers take time to listen

CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -- From snowmobiling fees, to life without parole for a minor. These are a few of the issues Cedar Valley residents want lawmakers to understand, and act on before the session ends.

"You gotta stay on your toes!" said Senator Bill Dotzler. "They're not afraid to tell you what they think, and in some cases, give you a little heck!"

Saturday morning, state senators and representatives from the area took their first day off after funnel week to sit down and listen.

"Since I've been elected I've been to every town in my district every year. Just to gather input," noted Representative Pat Grassley.

While several republicans and democrats sat in on a large public hearing in Cedar Falls, a pair of conservatives opted for a more intimate gathering in Shell Rock.

"90% of it is just hear to listen, so our constituents know we want an open dialogue," said Grassley.

In Shell Rock, folks wasted no time asking what's going on with the preschool bill -- not just about funding, but about its structure. It's a topic every area lawmaker has on their mind right now.

"Education subject is always one of the top subjects in state government, mainly because about 60% of our budget is education money," Dotzler noted.

To help make sure every subject is addressed, in Cedar Falls, the discussion is based on a different issue each week. This week, it was the judicial branch, including a bill to define whether or not a minor sentenced to life in prison should have a chance for parole. It's a controversal piece of legislation, but important to local attorneys. Which is exactly why lawmakers, in meetings big or small, take notes, and take notice.

We asked both lawmakers which bills they're happy to see made it out of funnel week. Grassley is proud of an economic development reorganization plan he headed up in the Economic Growth Committee. Dotzler is pleased to push forward a bill which puts

$14.5 million into the state's unemployment fund. That will help many laid-off Iowans get by as they continue searching for new jobs.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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