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Iowa's legislative session is likely heading into overtime as GOP leaders work on private school scholarships

iowa statehouse
Madeleine King
Tuesday is the 100th day of Iowa’s 2022 legislative session, but it’s highly unlikely lawmakers will wrap up the session by then.

Tuesday is the 100th day of Iowa’s 2022 legislative session, but it’s highly unlikely lawmakers will wrap up the session by then.

Last year, the session lasted a few extra weeks when Republicans couldn’t agree on tax cuts. This year, they passed tax cuts early in the session and now can’t agree on education policy.

Budget talks, unemployment cuts, changes to the bottle bill, and more have been tied up in GOP leaders’ negotiations about state-funded scholarships that could be used to send kids to private schools. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Senate Republicans want to move forward with Reynolds’ proposal, but it has lacked the support needed to pass in the House.

House Matt Leader Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley, said the House has passed and sent almost all of its budget bills to the Senate. But the Senate hasn’t passed any. Lawmakers must pass a budget before ending the session.

“We have moved numerous policy bills to the Senate that have languished and died, and we have attached some of those policy pieces to budget bills in order for them to be considered,” Windschitl said. “We are trying diligently to find a pathway to sine die but it takes both chambers to be in agreement in order to accomplish that.”

“Sine die” is the term lawmakers use to refer to the end of the legislative session.

House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights, said she doesn’t know how close the session is to ending.

“Republicans are in charge,” Konfrst said. “They have the majority in both chambers, and they can’t come to an agreement. What is going on? Are they not talking to each other? Are they arguing? Are they horse trading? What are they doing?”

Konfrst said lawmakers should just pass the state budget and go home.

“It is silly and it is irresponsible to hold folks here, keep this legislative session open, just because the governor has a wish that she’s not going to get this legislative session,” Konfrst said.

Reynolds told reporters last week that she won’t give up on pushing for her proposal to give up to 10,000 students a state-funded scholarship they could use to pay private school tuition.

She said lawmakers should focus on kids.

“So that’s where I’m focusing all of my energy right now,” Reynolds said. “And I don’t get everything I want, but I’m going to go down fighting. If I go down.”

Reynolds said she would bring the proposal back next year if it fails to pass this year. She proposed a similar bill last year, but it didn’t win enough support in the House.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter