Most bills never do see the light of day, and this is good. With the session half over, it is crunch time--time to start throwing stuff overboard, so to speak. We have to deal with balancing two budgets and sorting out the federal stimulus package. There just isn't enough time to do everything for everybody.
The funnel helps lawmakers organize the rest of the session. The goal is to produce good legislation and then have an orderly shut-down. Iowans expect that from their legislators. Let's hope it happens this year.
A full list of what is dead and what is alive will be available next week. We do, however, know a few things that will not be debated this year--at least according to the funnel. In reality, nothing is ever completely dead. A bill that has missed the funnel could come back later as an amendment to another bill. It is an interesting process that never ceases to amaze me.
One issue that died dealt with penalties for drivers that cause accidents because they were using a cell phone. The Senate tried to place this offense under the careless driving rules, but failed to come up with appropriate language. This is something that seems to be garnering a lot of attention, so I am sure it will come up again next session.
Another funnel victim was a proposal that would allow convicted juveniles serving life prison terms to request parole after 15 years. I believe this will be discussed again in the future.
Also, legislation that sought to put a cap on interest, fees, and other charges relating to payday loans failed to advance. Payday loans are cash advances based on a borrower's paycheck without investigating the borrower's ability to repay the loan. This is similar to the car title loan bill that was passed several years ago.
One bill that did survive deals with California-style vehicle emission standards. This is bad legislation and would add three to four thousand dollars to the price of a new vehicle. It may happen someday, but this is not the time to be stacking more rules and regulations on manufacturers and dealers.
The Senate passed the first bonding bill of the year and the price tag is $175 million. In the end, the Governor would like us to borrow $700 million. This is on top of the $2 billion that Iowa will receive in federal dollars. Where is all of the money going? I will let you know in the coming weeks as the budget situation becomes more clear.
You can reach me at the Capitol during the week by phoning me at 515-281-3221, at home on weekends at 712-434-5880, or fax me at 712-434-2012. You may write to me at the State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. My home address is 6144 Y Avenue, Aurelia, Iowa 51005. If you have email, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.