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Bills die as Iowa Legislature faces deadline

Published: Friday, March 8, 2013 11:04 a.m. CDT

DES MOINES (AP) — Some of the hundreds of bills introduced in the Iowa Legislature will die this week as lawmakers run up against a self-imposed deadline.

Most high-profile measures dealing with such issues as property tax changes and education reform are moving through the process. But others dealing with gay marriage, abortion and gun control won’t survive the Friday deadline.

Lawmakers have finished up work for the week and won’t return to the Capitol until Monday.

Under the Legislature’s rules, referred to as “funnel week,” bills die if they haven’t been approved by a committee by Friday, though they can be eligible the following year and lawmakers occasionally use maneuvers to revive a bill toward the end of the session.

The Legislative Services Agency says 478 bills were introduced in the House this year and 354 in the Senate. Last year, 640 House and 478 Senate bills were introduced.

Legislative leaders said they are pleased priority bills survived the deadline.

Republicans expressed frustration that measures they have long pushed, such as abortion restrictions and seeking a public vote on gay marriage, have again failed, but they said they weren’t surprised.

“Those issues are extremely important to House Republicans ... but Senate Democrats are going to block those initiatives,” said House Speaker Kevin Paulsen, R-Hiawatha.

Bills that would have reinstated the death penalty and allowed people to carry guns on school grounds also failed to meet the deadline.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, said he was disappointed that legislation that would have sent part of this year’s budget surplus back to taxpayers never saw committee discussion and failed.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said all of the Senate Democrats’ key priorities have survived the deadline.

“Our key issues about education reform, the skill shortage in Iowa, tax breaks for working families and small businesses, investing in Iowa’s economy ... all of our key priorities came through,” he said.

But efforts backed by Senate Democrats to legalize medical marijuana, require minors riding mo-peds to wear helmets and legalize Internet poker have failed.

About 90 Senate bills and 60 House bills cleared the deadline and will survive for floor debate. And it’s always possible a bill considered finished will be resurrected.

“Nothing is ever really dead around here,” said Carmine Boal, the chief House clerk.

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