Education, mental health and tax reform move through Iowa funnel

Iowa lawmakers are back in the Quad Cities after the so-called “funnel” week in Des Moines. That’s when they decide which bills will make the cut for consideration.

The call for education reform will sound louder in Iowa. It’s a top priority this session.

“I think it’s mandatory,” said Rep. Linda Miller, (R) Bettendorf. “We’ve got to pass it, both an education bill and a mental health redesign bill.”

After nearly a year of study, conferences and meetings, lawmakers will look at ways to restore world class schools to Iowa. But there are differences on how to accomplish that goal.

“We want to make sure we do good work,” said Rep. Cindy Winckler, (D) Davenport. “It makes a difference for our children and schools.”

Red light and speed cameras are back on the agenda. Cameras improve traffic safety in Davenport, but there’s a call to remove them for good across Iowa.

Sen. Joe Seng, (D) Davenport, says that Davenport is using the system fairly while other Iowa communities may not.

“I’d hate to see my grandchild get t-boned on Brady and Kimberly when I voted to get rid of them,” he said.

Some issues will be going back to the grass roots level. That’s the case next week when Gov. Terry Branstad pushes for permanent property tax relief during stops in Davenport and Clinton.

Iowa lawmakers continue to hold their cards on internet poker. It could raise $3-13 million annually in state revenue, but the measure might not advance much further.

“I don’t see a great deal of enthusiasm for it in the House,” Rep. Miller said.

While Iowa casinos would manage the internet poker, gaming opponents worry it will just feed addictions.

“To expand gambling so that we can make money off of it, I’m very hesitant to do that,” Sen. Seng said.

Some of the diverse bills that didn’t make the cut include bills to reinstate a limited death penalty and raising Iowa’s minimum wage.

From classes to cards, Iowa lawmakers will cast the votes.

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