Abortion, opioids among issues that could arise at Capitol
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- As the Iowa legislative session inches toward adjournment with Republican leaders focused on tax cuts and the state budget, some lawmakers and advocacy groups are still pushing for other bills that have received less attention.
It's unclear what measures, if any, could be approved in the session's last days, but here is a look at several possibilities.
Anti-abortion advocates haven't given up on a bill that would ban abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks of pregnancy.
The Senate approved the bill with all Republicans and one independent in support, and all Democrats in opposition, but the House hasn't taken up the measure. If approved, the ban would be the most restrictive in the nation, though such a law would be challenged as a violation of U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
The heartbeat bill follows a Republican-backed law approved last year that banned most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and required a three-day waiting period for women, making it among the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. The waiting period portion of the law hasn't taken effect because of a lawsuit before the Iowa Supreme Court.
The House unanimously approved a bill intended to reduce opioid abuse, but the Senate has yet to take up the proposal.
The House-backed measure would require that pharmacies dispensing controlled substances report it within one business day, that prescriptions be made electronically by 2020 and that patients potentially abusing opioids be identified. An analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency states the bill wouldn't require legislative funding to be implemented.
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said in her January Condition of the State address that she wants to expand participation in prescription monitoring and called for legislation to reduce the number of opioids prescriptions.
Patients and health care providers have continued to file complaints about Iowa's privatized Medicaid system, which provides health care for poor and disabled Iowans, and Reynolds has acknowledged the state made "mistakes" during the transition to a private system.
The House voted 97-0 for a bill requiring companies that now run the program to make timely payments of claims, provide reasons for denying them and fix errors within three months. The Senate hasn't taken up the legislation, but supporters are still calling for action.
An LSA analysis estimates the bill's cost at $4.7 million annually.
Reductions or elimination of so-called "backfill" payments to local government remains possible, though cuts don't appear likely for the budget year that begins in July.
The payments, which are capped at $152 million annually, were established by a 2013 law that cut taxes for commercial and industrial property owners.
The payments were a key in gaining support for the earlier tax cuts, but Republicans say the payments weren't intended to last indefinitely and the state can't afford them. Democrats argue that ending the payments would break a promise to local governments and would cause local taxes to increase.
Republican leaders have said a new round of tax cuts and current budget plans don't rely on reducing backfill funding.
Among other issues that still have a pulse is a bill designed to help utilities by granting rate changes more quickly and limiting energy efficiency programs. The Senate approved the bill but the House hasn't voted on the measure.
The Senate approved a bill banning traffic cameras and some lawmakers are still pushing for the proposal, but the House favored an approach adding further restrictions to their use rather than a ban. House Speaker Linda Upmeyer said she doesn't think there are enough votes in that chamber to approve a ban.
Advocates of a victims' rights bill also haven't given up and earlier this month held a Capitol rally to call attention to the proposed constitutional amendment. However, a crime victims group and some prosecutors have opposed the proposal, known as Marsy's Law, which they fear would be difficult and costly for court officials to implement.
Associated Press writer Barbara Rodriguez in Des Moines contributed to this report.