This week the second session of the 87th Iowa General Assembly convened and is scheduled to last 100 days. However, the Republicans, which are the majority party in both chambers, made it clear that they are aiming to adjourn in 90 days or sooner. This goal will expedite the budget process but is extremely hard to achieve given the number of issues and the complexity of those issues before them this year.
The focus of this week was two-fold:
1. Joint sessions of the General Assembly were convened to hear the Condition of the State delivered by Governor Reynolds, the Condition of the Judiciary delivered by Chief Justice Cady, and the Condition of the National Guard delivered by General Orr.
The Condition of the State address outlined the Governor’s priorities for this session, which include water quality, expansion of rural broadband, tax reform, Medicaid and mental health coverage, the opioid epidemic, and education with a focus on STEM and Future Ready Iowa.
2. Organizational meetings for policy and appropriations committees in which the committee leadership had the opportunity to explain their goals and timelines for the session.
From a policy perspective, the first item the General Assembly will focus on will be a de-appropriations bill designed to cut spending in the current year to account for lower than expected tax revenues. This must be done before they can begin discussing putting together the 2019 budget and also major policy initiatives that will have a General Fund impact.