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Water Quality, Medical Marijuana on Lawmakers' 2017 Agenda

John Pemble/IPR
The Iowa Statehouse

Lawmakers wrapped up the 2016 legislative session at the Statehouse on Friday, April 29. While the House and the Senate reached a deal on the budget which included tax credits for couples who adopt instead of defunding Planned Parenthood, they did not compromise on bills that would have expanded access to medical marijuana or funded new water quality initiatives in the state. 

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer checks in with Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, and House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow, a Republican from Windsor Heights. 

Senator Gronstal lists the budget as the greatest success of the session, and he says that he intends to try to organize a summit to talk about water quality in the state. 

"There were too many talking past each other … I think we need to have people stop talking past each other, and stop making up plans that cut other things that are really important to Iowans," Gronstal said. 

“I think instead of a unilateral House Republican plan, a unilateral plan from the governor, I think we need a summit, I think we need people to come together. That is what I intend to work on.”

Rep. Hagenow says that while he was pleased with the budget, he would like to look toward answering questions about water quality in Iowa next year, without diverting money away from K-12 schools which was outlined in Governor Terry Branstad's plan. 

"Well, I think to begin with, the Governor’s plan got us talking about it and sparked the issue," Hagenow says. "We had several of our members who were concerned about direction money out of the school infrastructure fund."

Radio Iowa News Director Kay Henderson and Des Moines Register Statehouse Reporter Bill Petroski also join the conversation. Now that lawmakers are adjourned for this session, Henderson says many of them are looking toward re-election next fall. 

"The statehouse agenda will dramatically shift if Democrats are bested this fall and lose the Senate," she says. 

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer also talks with Sen. Gronstal and Rep. Hagenow about medical marijuana, K-12 education funding, funding for Planned Parenthood, and the state's infrastructure issues. 

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Senior Digital Producer
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River