WIUM Tristates Public Radio

IA Lawmaker Expects Shorter Session

Jan 10, 2014

One southeast Iowa lawmaker expects to spend less time in Des Moines this year.

State Rep. Jerry Kearns (D-Keokuk)

The Iowa Legislature’s 2014 session gets underway at 10:00 AM on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014.

State Representative Jerry Kearns (D-Keokuk) says he anticipates the session wrapping up in mid-April, even before the April 22 deadline when lawmaker per-diems run out.

He says that is due, in part, to 2014 being an election year.

"Everyone is ready to get out of 'dodge,' so to speak, and get out on the election trail," says Kearns.

He says a shorter session is also possible because of the work done by lawmakers in 2013, specifically in areas such as education reform and commercial property tax reform.

"We basically did a job, last year, on all of the big issues."

Kearns says there could be some tweaks to the laws passed last year, in particular the education bill, but nothing significant.

He says the one, big-ticket item in 2014 is the budget, which he says is in great shape.

"We have $800-million or so in reserves, so we are in pretty good shape."

Kearns says some of that money is committed to education and commercial property tax reform, though, so there may not be as much money available this year to back-fill past cuts.

Kearns anticipates some talk of restoring Iowa Workforce Development funding and increasing the gasoline tax, but he does not see any action taking place.

He says he does expect to see a push in Des Moines to expand the reach of high speed internet in Iowa, which he fully supports.