Iowa lawmakers turn to taxes, guns, private school funding

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Legislature got back to work Monday with Republicans holding even larger majorities in both chambers and goals of approving more tax cuts, further easing gun restrictions and spending public money to fund private schools.

Republicans have controlled both legislative branches since the 2017 session and have worked with GOP governors to pass numerous conservative bills on everything from education to abortion rights.

They will have even greater sway this session given their expanded 64-36 majority in the House and 34-16 majority in the Senate. Because Democrats hold so few seats following a poor showing in the November 2022 election, they will be able to do little more than complain as Republican-backed measures become law.

Republicans in previous sessions pushed through big reductions in income taxes, and in 2026 the state is expected to fully implement a 3.9% flat income tax. This year, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver said Republicans would seek reductions or at least more transparency in property taxes, which are imposed by local governments.

Gun rights also will be a priority, following overwhelming voter approval in November of a measure adding the right to keep and bear arms to the Iowa Constitution.

For several years, Gov. Kim Reynolds has pushed unsuccessfully for a measure that would allow the use of state money to fund scholarships for children at private school. Thanks in part to Reynolds’ successful effort to defeat some Republican legislators who have opposed such measures, the proposal has a better chance of passing this year.

Restriction of abortion rights has been a priority for the past several years, but Reynolds and Republican leaders said they would wait to see the outcome of a case before the Iowa Supreme Court before taking action. In that case, Reynolds has asked the court to overturn a district court ruling and reverse a permanent injunction of a 2019 law that bans abortions when cardiac activity can be detected.