Iowa governor mulling decisions on many controversial bills

April 30, 2019 GMT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is mulling key decisions on several divisive bills that have been approved by the Legislature.

Among the issues to be decided are sports betting, limiting duties of the attorney general, prohibiting the use of Medicaid funding to pay for sex-reassignment surgery, and outlawing the use of government funds for sex education courses offered by Planned Parenthood.

Most were attached by Republican legislative leaders to larger spending bills in order to get lawmakers to accept them. The governor, however, has line-item veto power in appropriations bills and can chose to take those measures out separately.


On sports betting , Reynolds said Tuesday she’s heard from people concerned about gambling addiction and the impact the bill may have, but she’s also received messages from those who say sports betting is already happening and needs to be regulated.

More than 100 bills have been sent to her and she has 30 days to make a decision on them. She has signed nearly 50 measures passed by the legislature so far.

A group representing transgender residents met with a member of Reynolds’ staff on Monday at the Iowa Capitol as part of a lobbying effort.

Reynolds on Tuesday declined to offer support or opposition to many of the high-profile issues, giving the same answer to questions about each bill.

“We’re going to sit down with the policy team and we’re going to go through each bill that was sent to my office and we’ll make those decisions,” she said.

Attorney General Tom Miller said he’ll work to try to convince Reynolds to veto language that would require him to get prior approval before joining any out-of-state lawsuits.

“There was somewhat similar but different legislation on the same sort of track in Michigan where the governor did veto it, so there is a precedent for a Republican governor to veto something in this area,” Miller told the Iowa Public Television program Iowa Press on Friday. He said he’s received a commitment from some GOP attorneys general to write letters to Reynolds on his behalf.

Republican lawmakers put the language in a funding bill for the justice system to try and stop Miller from suing President Donald Trump’s administration over certain issues. Miller said such lawsuits are an important part of the system’s checks and balances.


While noncommittal on most bills, Reynolds has signaled support for altering the way judges are chosen. Another measure slipped into a funding bill and passed on the final day of the session, the change would give her more power to appoint members to a judicial nominating commission and weakens the clout of attorneys.

Other decisions before her include legalization of hemp growing, creation of system to deal with mental health issues among children, criminalization of female genital mutilation and lifting the cap on the potency of a marijuana plant derivative used for medical purposes.


Follow David Pitt on Twitter: