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Lawmakers outline their goals for 2014

BY LILY ABROMEIT | DECEMBER 16, 2013 5:00 AM

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The next legislative session is approaching for Iowa, and legislators are beginning to reflect on the last year in order to create plans for the future.

Senate President Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque

“It’s going to be kind of hard to beat last year’s session; we really did achieve some major issues,” Jochum said. “We will look at what we overlooked … [and] fix those problems.”

She hopes to strengthen educational efforts.

“The big, overarching goal is to continue to strengthen and expand the middle class, and we will do that by ensuring all people in Iowa, from preschool to high school have … a world-class education,” she said.

Equalizing wages is also an issue in Iowa she would like to see resolved.

“We need to be focused on making sure that when taxpayers invest in job-creation programs that those jobs actually are paying a living wage,” she said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Steve Sodders, D-State Center

Sodder said he expects this session to be a quieter one as one outcome of the productive year.

“I think last year, a lot of things got done [and] this year will be probably more tweaks to things we did last year. There might be some program tweaks here and there, but I don’t expect too many huge, controversial bills coming out this year … in part because there were major milestones last year.” 

He hopes the productivity in the past session will transfer to the next one, adding that a goal is to focus on expanding broadband coverage across the state.

“I think in this next session, one of my main focus and goals is going to be looking at broadband expansion to all Iowans [and] to hit the rural areas of the state. That’s going to be very important for economic growth.”

House Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Steve Olson, R-DeWitt

Olson said an assessment of last year is necessary for future development.

“I think we have to evaluate all the programs we passed last year to make sure there aren’t any hiccups [or if] we need to make small adaptations or whatever we need to do so we can move forward.”

A tax freeze as well as infrastructure will be on his list of goals. He also thinks important issues need to be featured early, so as not to extend the session more than necessary.

“Hopefully, it will be a shorter session, and if there are a major issues that come up, they need to come up front and center … and fairly early in the session. Anything that needs to be tackled of major importance is going to be tackled right out of the box; otherwise, its not going to happen.”

Assistant Republican Leader Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley

Windschitl said he would like to see the Legislature work together in a timely fashion.  He said he wants to mainly focus on tax reform during the upcoming session.

“Hopefully, we will be able to work through our differences rather quickly, seeing as we are already [poised] to understand each others differences between the House and Senate.”

Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville

Jacoby said he hopes to see a continuation of bipartisan efforts; something he noticed was in the beginning stages last year.

“This year, we’re going to have some fiscal challenges [and] I think there’s going to be some idealistic challenges with the extreme tea-party people and the Republican Party, [but] it’s all about compromise and moving forward.”

He also said he hopes to see a strong focus on education in the coming session as well as efforts on tax reform among other things.

“My first goal is to make STEM universal for all K-12 students and then my second goal is to be successful in connecting a passenger rail from Chicago to Council Bluffs. And then my third goal … is to reform our property tax and our income tax, [because] I’d like to simplify our taxes.”

Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville

Dvorsky said as the head of the Appropriations Committee, the tuition freeze will be a focus of his.
“My biggest focus is always the budget. Particularly this year, the regents have asked for a 4 percent increase … and they say if they get [an] increase, they can freeze tuition, which is important.”

While Dvorsky said he plans to focus on elder abuse and dealing with food insecurities. He hopes the Legislature will work to fine-tune programs from the previous session.

Additionally, he said, he hopes the budget is sorted out “in a timely fashion” in order to shorten the session.


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