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State Government News

May 23: Last week at the Iowa Legislature

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John Pemble
/
IPR

Iowa lawmakers return to the Iowa Capitol Monday to pass a state budget and start the process of ending the legislative session.

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

Republican lawmakers revive proposal that would give Iowa governor more influence in district judge selection process

Iowa Republican lawmakers have revived a proposal that would give the governor more influence on commissions that help select district court judges. The measure would allow the governor to appoint a majority of commissioners on district judicial nominating commissions, and it would remove senior district court judges who chair the commissions under current law. The proposal failed to advance earlier this session, but Wednesday it was attached to the judicial branch budget bill.

Park rangers would have to move out of government-owned housing by the end of next year under proposed budget bill

The budget bill, advanced by Republicans on a Senate committee, would require park rangers in 23 Iowa state parks to move out of their homes by the end of next year. Sen. Ken Rozenboom, R-Oskaloosa, says that gives them some more time than the state Department of Natural Resources initially planned for. The DNR wanted them out this fall, citing the nearly $1 million cost of maintaining the houses. The state is expected to have a budget surplus this year of nearly $1 billion.

Gov. Kim Reynolds still pushing for state funding for private school tuition

The governor is still pushing to pass a program that would put state funding into voucher-style scholarships that families could spend on private school tuition. That plan has not had enough support from Republicans in the House to reach her desk, but she says she's meeting with lawmakers, school superintendents and parents to garner support. Last week, Reynolds endorsed the primary opponent of a GOP lawmaker who opposes private school scholarships. She also says she'll try again next year if this program isn't greenlit this year.

Reynolds signs law requiring Iowa gas stations to sell fuel with more ethanol

Reynolds also signed a bill into law that mandates Iowa gas stations to sell gas with higher blends of ethanol. The bill requires gas stations that open after Jan. 1 to sell E-15 from at least half of their dispensers. Existing gas stations with compatible infrastructure have to sell E-15 from at least one dispenser by 2026. Lawmakers added waivers for smaller gas stations and those that have old equipment that’s incompatible with E-15. The bill got bipartisan support in the Iowa Legislature. Some lawmakers opposed it, saying they disagree with state government requiring business owners to sell a certain product.

What else we're watching:

The legislature may still try to pass measures related to eminent domain laws for carbon pipelines. And a proposal that would fund crisis pregnancy centers and extend Medicaid coverage for women who give birth could still pass.

For even more on Iowa politics and legislation, subscribe to the Political Sense weekly newsletter.