What’s happening on the Hill

cap domeCONSERVATIVE AGENDA: House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, said the chamber next week will introduce legislation regarding school choice, Second Amendment rights, abortion and collective bargaining for public employees. Next week is the first key deadline for some legislation to be eligible for consideration this year. On collective bargaining, Paulsen said the proposal may include a measure that allows arbitrators to recommend a middle-ground resolution; current law requires arbitrators to choose between the two sides’ proposals.

SCHOOL FUNDING COMPROMISE: Lawmakers on the conference committees for school funding met for the first time. The legislators’ task is to find an agreeable compromise on the amount of state funding for K-12 public schools. Democrats in control of the Senate proposed 4 percent, while Republicans in the House proposed 1.25 percent. Named as conference committee members were House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, R-Garner, Rep. Chuck Soderberg, R-LeMars, Rep. Patti Ruff, D-McGregor, and Rep. Sharon Steckman, D-Mason City, from the House; and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, and Sens. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton, and Tod Bowman, D-Maquoketa, from the Senate.

NO MINIMUM WAGE HIKE: Paulsen said he does not plan to call up the Senate’s proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage by $1 per hour to $8.75. Paulsen said there is not sufficient interest among House Republicans in the proposal, which was passed this week by Senate Democrats.

RUNOFF ELECTIONS: Members of the Senate State Government Committee agreed to revamp an Iowa election law that allows delegates to political party conventions to decide a nominee for public office in instances where there is an inconclusive primary in which no candidate received at least 35 percent of the popular vote. Senators approved Senate 10, which proposes to scrap the current system and establish a runoff election between the top vote-getters to decide the winner of a contested primary for offices at the federal, state or local levels. Under the proposed change, the top two vote-getters in a primary election that produces an inconclusive result will face each other in a runoff election to decide who wins their political party’s nomination. Senators expect to set the time span and other specifics about the new runoff system when the bill comes up for debate before the full Senate, said Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Waterloo, the committee chairman.

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