The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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April 14, 2014

Legislators: Session lacks productivity

CLINTON — Iowa legislators are frustrated with the way this year’s session has unfolded, but not everything has come with disappointing results.

During a legislative coffee gathering Saturday, Sen. Rita Hart, Rep. Steve Olson and Rep. Mary Wolfe expressed their dissatisfaction with the unproductive legislative session, which was expected to end last week, but could continue well into May.

“I was hopeful we’d be out by the 10th of April,” Olson said. “If we’re out of there by the first of May, I’ll be shocked.”

Currently legislators are working on budget bills, leaving questions as to whether many substantive bills and policy bills that haven’t already made it through actually will.

Some of those include a bill calling for an increase in the Iowa gas tax, an anti-bullying and harassment bill, an allowable growth bill for area schools and a medical marijuana bill that gained little momentum during the session.

Wolfe said that while she’s not certain those bills won’t make it through, she expected many wouldn’t have the support they need.

“I think at this point most of the substantive bills, policy bills that haven’t made it through, probably aren’t going to make it through,” Wolfe said. “Except as some add-on to one of the standing bills or something like that.”

The lack of support for those bills concerned some guests at Saturday’s coffee session, as well as the legislators themselves.

But despite their disappointments, the legislators delivered some good news on Saturday as they announced the passing of two specific bills that they feel will benefit the Gateway area immensely.

One of those is a bill that gives private water companies, like Iowa-American Water Co., more authority to collect unpaid sewer bills. That report was met with applause from those in attendance at the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event.

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