Funnel week cuts: Gas tax is in -- medical marijuana is out - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Funnel week cuts: Gas tax is in -- medical marijuana is out

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

This week marked a crucial time at the statehouse in Des Moines -- funnel week. It's the deadline for bills to either move forward or get left behind.

Lawmakers went into the 2012 session promising to work together, and make some real changes to Iowa's economy and education policies. As for whether things are happening in a bi-partisan manner -- that depends on who you ask.

"It feels like there is some unity and comradery to get these things done. And so I think we're in a good place," said Rep. Walt Rogers, (R) Cedar Falls.

"I think, in the House, we're kind of irrelevant, to some degree!" countered Rep. Deborah Berry, (D) Waterloo.

A Republican-controlled House and a Democratic Senate are trying to come together on a few key issues.

"The good thing about funnel week is, you get to put aside extreme ideas and work together on common sense solutions to the things most people care about," said Sen. Jeff Danielson, (D) Waterloo.

Education reform is at the forefront, and will stay there through the end of the session. Property tax is another big issue, and both chambers are working on legislation.

"The commercial property tax reform, that's still alive," said Danielson.

"People who have different types of property taxes, commercial, agriculture, residential, trying to make sure that's fair across the board," Rogers said.

Lawmakers are trying to focus on the big picture this year, but a few controversial issues made the first cut Including a ban on traffic cameras and, although it didn't survive the House, a plan to raise the gas tax is alive in the Senate.

"For our area, we will benefit more than any other community in Iowa because of the University Avenue project, because of Highway 63, we have dangerous intersections north of Cedar Falls that have to be improved," said Danielson.

Of course, each lawmaker has a few bills they wanted to keep talking about -- and they may still get the chance in the form of an amendment.

Rogers said he was hoping to get further with a bill he sponsored -- one that created quite a stir between pro-life and pro-choice advocates.

"A bill about ultrasounds, requiring an ultrasound with every abortion in the state. It did not get through the funnel. I'm a little disappointed about that, but we'll work hard and try to do it next time," he said.

Berry wanted to move forward with a plan to create stricter penalties for adults who supply a weapon to a minor, if that weapon was later involved in a crime.

"A colleague and I have a bill, well we had a bill but it died, we were hoping the bill would address anyone that's involved in giving weapons to kids -- that they too face some consequences," she said.

Some other pieces of legislation which did not make it through the funnel include a bill requiring kids to wear helmets on motorcycles, a provision to legalize medical marijuana dispensaries, and naming the "Iowa Waltz" as the state song.

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