November 29, 2011
By Adam Bink
House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, said he has no plans to revisit volatile social issues like gay marriage and abortion when lawmakers convene Jan. 9. Republicans who control the House approved tough restrictions on abortion and a resolution calling for a statewide vote on banning gay marriage last time around, but the Senate‘s Democratic leader blocked debate on both measures.
Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, has indicated he would do the same again, and given that, Paulsen said there’s little incentive to revisit the issues.
“We’re not afraid to address those issues, but we’re also not interested in squandering Iowans’ time,” he said. “We have a job to do and we’re going to do it.”
Gronstal said he also expected to focus on economic issues and avoid drawn-out arguments of social issues.
“Iowans would prefer that we all work on things that would get 100,000 Iowans back to work,” he said. “Kraig and I have talked and he seems to be in agreement that this session is going to be much shorter than last session.”
Paulsen said he’s not interested in spending more time on issues that can’t be resolved. There have been some discussions about gun control issues, but no firm proposals have surfaced, he said.
“Right now, the primary focus of the caucus, make no mistake, is on jobs and the economy,” Paulsen said.
With the session scheduled to end April 17, both leaders said they also want to avoid the kind of gridlock that kept lawmakers in session this year until the end of June. But they conceded that’s always a challenge when each party controls one chamber.
“Some of those issues, particularly the budget issues, are difficult to work through,” Paulsen said.
Of course, we’ve seen this movie before in New Hampshire, where the new Republican majority earlier this year said its primary focus was jobs and the economy and that it had no plans to repeal marriage equality for New Hampshire residents, then moved to do just that until a broad coalition rose up against it and an overwhelming majority opposed doing so in the polls. And next year, they’re planning on doing it again. So we’ll see if Paulsen and his folks stick to their word.