Legislative Talk: lawmakers work short week with packed agenda - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Legislative Talk: lawmakers work short week with packed agenda

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DES MOINES (KWWL) - Iowa lawmakers have only a two-day work week, but still, there's work to be done with a full agenda.

Some agenda items include dissecting the budget and taking a look at Gov. Branstad's spending priorities, education and an array of taxes.

The gas tax is one focus this week, as this bill was introduced last week. The proposal calls for a 10-cent increase in the gas tax over the next three years.

There are lawmakers in both the Democratic and Republican parties that agree Iowa roads need more funding, as the gas tax is one of those funding resources. However, some lawmakers don't see the gas tax increase going into legislation this session.

"We looked at it last year, we couldn't get bipartisan support on it and the governor has never been fully on board on raising the gas tax, so I don't think you're going to see it," Sen. Steven Sodders said, D-State Center.

Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Garwin, said he hopes to see an increase in the gas tax, and would lower other taxes, like the income tax.

Another top priority this week is the Iowa Juvenile Home, and the lawsuit regarding the closing of the home. A group of lawmakers are suing Gov. Branstad for closing the home, on account of he closed it prior to the start of the legislative session.

Some Democrats and Republicans believe the home should re-open. Sen. Steven Sodders, D-State Center, said he's already started on a bill with other Democrats to see action regarding the home as soon as possible.

"Re-open the home, do some of the things the task force suggested, and get those girls back in the placements they were in."

Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Garwin, said the 46 girls displaced from the Iowa Juvenile Home are now in placements they shouldn't be in, and believes there's now a hole in the juvenile justice system.

"We really need to get that facility back open because Iowa needs those beds for the children," Rep. Fisher said.

Lawmakers said they are listening to and considering comments from people associated with the home, and plan to look at the training and education that took place at the home to draw conclusions on whether to re-open the facility.
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