Friday Afternoon News, April 22
Legislature Appropriates Money For Capitol Dome Restoration
(Des Moines) -- The renovation of state-owned buildings and facilities was discussed at length by the Iowa legislature, but unfortunately, many of those buildings that need improvements may have to wait another year before any construction work can begin. State Representative Chuck Holz says many legislators realize the need to renovate the State's Historical Museum, Wallace Office Building, and the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, but he says there simply isn't enough money in the budget. One building that will get a make-over is the state capitol building, specifically the iconic gold dome. Holz says restoration efforts will begin shortly on the capitol dome.
Holz says the funding to repair and renovate the state buildings comes from the RIF account.
The Le Mars lawmaker says part of the problem is the state is still financing a bond issue from the Governor Culver administration.
Senate Rejects House Plan To Ban Funding For Planned Parenthood
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Democratic-majority Senate has stripped away language in a budget bill passed by the Republican-controlled House that would remove state funding for Planned Parenthood.
The Senate voted 27-23 Friday for a roughly $1.8 billion health and human services bill that would remove language to cut Medicaid funding for family planning facilities that provide abortions. Medicaid provides health services for about 560,000 poor and disabled residents.
Democrats say the proposal would make Iowa ineligible for federal dollars. Republicans say they don't want to support abortion providers and there are other options available.
The Senate would also add more state oversight of Medicaid, which switched recently to private management. Democrats say an oversight plan by the House isn't enough.
A special legislative committee is expected to sort out differences in the bill.
Iowa And Minnesota Look To Help Each Other On Medical Marijuana Issue
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Officials in Iowa and Minnesota are exploring a system to allow Iowa residents to buy medical marijuana from their northern neighbor, lawmakers from both states have told The Associated Press.
Iowa's Legislature has struggled this year to expand a 2014 law that legalized marijuana oils for patients suffering seizures but left them nowhere to buy it. Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer said Friday an agreement with Minnesota is one option they're now considering.
Minnesota's program launched last summer. The novel setup could bring more patients to the two companies in Minnesota that are struggling with low enrollment.
But it would also raise some federal concerns. And it could pit Iowa residents with long drives to the closest dispensary in Rochester, Minnesota - three hours northeast of Des Moines.
Supreme Court Awards Decision In Favor Of Iowa Department Of Human Services
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court has handed a victory to the Iowa Department of Human Services in a dispute over cuts in payments made to a group of Medicaid service providers in 2011.
The dispute occurred after then-Gov. Chet Culver ordered 10 percent budget cuts for state agencies in 2009 and the Legislature passed a bill in 2010 continuing those cuts into the 2011 state fiscal year. The DHS, however, neglected to carry over a portion of those cuts - a 2.5 percent inflation adjustment - into its administrative rules which set service provider payments.
Service providers sued claiming the administrative rules govern rates and the Iowa Court of Appeals agreed.
The Supreme Court on Friday, however, said statutes enacted by the Legislature prevail over administrative rules when there are conflicts.
Grassley Admits To Having A Tough Re-election Race
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Sen. Charles Grassley acknowledges he's facing his toughest re-election race in decades.
The Republican seeking a seventh Senate term says more than his Democratic opposition, he thinks the presidential race could present challenges.
Grassley, back in Iowa Friday to meet with civic groups, schools and businesses, says he doesn't know how his support will be affected if billionaire businessman Donald Trump is the Republican nominee.
He equates the race to 1980 when many assumed Ronald Reagan would hurt down-ticket Republicans. It didn't turn out that way. Grassley says he received 100,000 more votes than Reagan in Iowa.
Grassley hasn't lost a general election in 50 years and typically wins with more than 60 percent of the vote.
Democrats running include former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge and state Sen. Rob Hogg.