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Iowa Legislature reconvenes as presidential caucuses loom

The Iowa Legislature reconvened Monday, marking a subdued start to a session launched just one week before this year's presidential caucuses.

The Iowa Legislature reconvened Monday at the state capitol in Des Moines for a somewhat subdued start to the 2024 session given the flurry of laws passed last year and the one-week countdown to Republicans’ presidential caucuses.

Before gaveling in, Iowa Republicans celebrated their trifecta — control of the House, Senate and governor’s mansion — and the policies they passed last year, including creating publicly funded educational savings accounts to help families pay for private K through 12 schools; removing books with “sex acts” from school libraries and blocking discussion of gender identity in the classroom; and cutting property taxes.

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“The impact of Republican leadership is undeniable,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said at a Republican Party of Iowa breakfast. “With just one week away from the Iowa caucus, the eyes of the country are going to be on Iowa once again. And, you know what, I am so proud of what they will see.”

The chambers were last filled in July for a special session, which Reynolds convened to pass a ban on abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, which is currently on hold as it is reviewed by the state Supreme Court.

Republican leadership in the House and Senate both identified cutting income taxes and addressing worker shortages as priorities for the new year.

Leaders on both sides of the aisle also acknowledged last week’s shooting at Perry High School, wherein a 17-year-old opened fire on the first day back to school after winter break, wounding seven students and staff and killing an 11-year-old boy.

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In the House chamber, there was agreement from Republican and Democratic leaders that their work this session needs to address Iowa students’ safety in schools.

In her opening remarks, House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst identified reproductive rights, recreational marijuana and public education as her caucuses’ priorities, along with school safety, saying an idea shouldn’t be discounted in the Republican-controlled chamber just because it’s introduced by Democrats.

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