First week update in Des Moines

Lawmakers reflect on Gov. Reynolds' address, emphasize 2018 priorities

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DES MOINES — The first week of the 2018 legislative session is wrapping up at the State Capitol Building, and local lawmakers shared their thoughts on the opening week of the 87th General Assembly.

“The speeches are done, the information is given out about the governor’s approach to the budget and those sorts of things,” said state House Minority Leader Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, on the week’s events. “It’s been a pretty typical first week of the session.”

State Sen. Jeff Edler, R-State Center, said it was good to hear the Condition of the Judiciary by Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady and the Condition of the State address by Gov. Kim Reynolds earlier this week.

“I was glad to hear that mental health is a priority of the governor’s,” Edler said. “That fits in well with some of my priorities this year.”

He also said he shares the administration’s focus on tax reform during the 2018 session.

Smith said he was glad to hear Reynolds’ discuss plans to improve mental health care in the state via a training program for primary physicians, but added he doesn’t think her stated goals go far enough.

“The second thing she’s going to do is press for crisis intervention services,” he said. “Both of those are good, but they’re not nearly enough to fix Iowa’s broken mental health system.”

Edler said he is still looking over the governor’s proposed budget, which was released Tuesday.

“There is a lot to go through,” he said.

Smith said the budget proposal will take some time to analyze fully.

“The analysis is still going on,” he said, adding House Democrats are “interested in more money going into public education and are concerned that, when you cut state supplemental aid, it often requires local school boards to increase property taxes, which is a more regressive tax.”

Despite 2018 looking to be a “tight” year for the state financially, Edler said he will do what he can for those in need.

“I’m always optimistic,” he said. “I would say that I do have a key focus on trying to get the help to the people who are not able to help themselves, and also keeping in mind how we treat the taxpayer to get that done.”

While Reynolds’ proposal was released earlier this week, the state legislature ultimately decides the budget. The House and Senate must decide where state funds are appropriated or cut.

State Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Montour, could not be reached by press time.

For more on the legislature, and to follow bills through the legislative chambers, visit https://www.legis.iowa.gov

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com

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