Emphasis
10:51 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Emphasis - January 6

Des Moines, IA – Jason Parrott's guest is State Senator Tom Courtney (D-Burlington).

They discuss the Iowa Legislature's 2012 session, which begins Monday, January 9 in Des Moines.

Iowa lawmakers spent plenty of time at the statehouse during 2011.

The session lasted 172 days, which made it one of the longest sessions in state history.

Courtney believes 2012 will be a much shorter session, possibly as few as 90 days.

He says lawmakers want to get out and meet with their constituents during a big election year.

Courtney does not expect some of the more contentious social issues to be discussed, including same-sex marriage and abortion.

Instead, he believes the focus will be on economic issues, in particular, commercial property tax reform.

Courtney says some progress could be made, this year, but he says it depends on how lawmakers want to see the revenue used.

He expects an increase in the gasoline tax to be discussed.

Courtney says he supports an increase, in part, because it would affect out-of-state residents using Iowa's highways.

He says the state would generate $20-million for each cent the tax is increased.

Courtney says a five-cent increase could be feasible, adding that any more could be difficult.

He says lawmakers will also look at the Governor's education reform plan and at prison staffing levels.

Courtney does not believe the issue of helping Keokuk Area Hospital deal with financial shortfalls will be brought up in Des Moines.

You can hear more with State Senator Tom Courtney (D-Burlington) by clicking the audio link above.