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Feb 28: Last week at the Iowa Legislature


Gov. Kim Reynolds is expected to sign a big tax bill into law this week, after the GOP-controlled House and Senate came to a deal last week. The governor has also been selected to give the response to President Joe Biden's State of the Union address.

Here's what else is going on:

Here's what went on at the Capitol last week:

Iowa legislature sends 3.9% flat income tax to governor's desk

The Iowa Legislature passed a sweeping tax cut bill Thursday, sending it to Reynolds' desk for her signature. The final bill is very similar to the tax plan Reynolds unveiled during her condition of the state address last month. It would phase in a 3.9 percent flat personal income tax by 2026, eliminate taxes on retirement income, and cut the corporate tax rate while also reducing some refundable business tax credits over time. House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, says Republicans are following through on their commitment to use the state’s budget surplus to cut taxes. “This is something we were able to do — focusing on the individual income tax without raising taxes on Iowans and making sure that we can make Iowa more competitive.”
Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, highlighted the department of revenue finding that those making more than $1 million a year would save an average of $67,000 a year on their taxes. Meanwhile, Iowa households earning $68,000 will get about a $600 tax cut.

Statehouse leaders begin to outline budget for next year

Lawmakers are laying out their plans for how much the state will spend on public services next fiscal year. House Republicans are proposing a less than 2 percent increase in state spending. Senate Republicans and the governor are planning a less than 1 percent bump. Once the amount is set, lawmakers must decide exactly how to appropriate the funds by the end of the 2022 session.

State asks Iowa Supreme Court to reverse 2018 abortion rights ruling

A lawyer for the state argued Wednesday before the Iowa Supreme Court that the Court’s 2018 decision establishing strong legal protections for abortion rights was wrong and should be overturned. The case centers on whether an Iowa law passed in 2020 that requires an additional medical appointment at least 24 hours before getting an abortion should be allowed to stand. But the Court’s forthcoming ruling in this case could have a much broader impact on abortion rights in Iowa. The Court is expected to issue a decision by the end of June.

Family of murdered Anamosa correctional officer calls on lawmakers to improve prison safety conditions

Nearly a year after two Anamosa State Penitentiary inmates killed nurse Lorena Schulte and correctional officer Robert McFarland, McFarland’s family is calling on Iowa lawmakers to pass two bills aimed at improving safety conditions for prison staff. The bills would restore collective bargaining rights for all correctional officers and include prison health care staff in that category. The bills would also require self-defense training, more funding for surveillance cameras and contraband screening in prisons. Both bills were proposed by Democrats and need Republican support to get any traction in the legislature.

Iowa governor to give GOP response to Biden's State of the Union address

The Iowa governor has been chosen to deliver the official Republican response to Biden’s State of the Union speech Tuesday. Reynolds says in a statement that the American people have had enough of Biden’s policies, and she’ll talk about an alternative in her speech. The State of the Union address is scheduled for 8 p.m. March 1. Reynolds’ speech will follow Biden’s.

What else we're watching:

Listen: The view of Ukraine from Iowa

Experts from the University of Iowa discuss Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the country's long history and its complicated future.

Iowa House votes to ban transgender girls from girls’ sports

The bill approved by the Republican-controlled House allows only those identified as female on their birth certificate to play girls’ and women’s sports. Transgender girls would be forced to compete with boys.

Hundreds of Iowa landowners band together to defend against use of eminent domain

Iowa landowners are uniting to defend themselves against the use of eminent domain. Hundreds of farmers in the path of proposed carbon capture pipelines have jointly hired Domina Law to lead the legal effort. The group wants to stop Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2 Ventures from using eminent domain to build pipelines throughout Iowa.

For even more on Iowa politics and legislation, subscribe to the Political Sense weekly newsletter and check out the weekly podcast Under the Golden Dome.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter
Clay Masters is the senior politics reporter for MPR News.