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Miscellaneous spending bill heads back to House

Mackenzie Elmer, Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- A multifaceted spending bill will likely move to a negotiating committee after the Iowa Senate declined to agree to a number of contentious policy proposals Tuesday.

Lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected the version of the so-called standings bill on Tuesday that previously passed the Republican-majority House.

The House version had added new policies, including a proposal that would change collective bargaining rules. The bill now moves back to the House, but given the differences between the sides, it is expected to soon move to a negotiating committee where lawmakers from both chambers will seek a compromise.

The standings legislation also includes a series of budget items that are built into law, like basic school funding.

Senators added some items this round, including a proposal to match up to $2 million funds raised privately by the Iowa Food Bank Association so the agency can purchase commodities and transport them to other food banks.

"I do think it's an incentive for Iowans to give to food banks when they know the state's going to match it," said Sen. Janet Peterson, D-Des Moines.

Senators from both parties agreed to a measure proposed by Sen. Tod Bowman, D-Maquoketa, that would crack down on vehicle fees scofflaws. The proposal would require drivers to register vehicles that have been in Iowa for more than 90 consecutive days.

"We have million-dollar RVs being registered out of state but are being driven in the state of Iowa ... They're getting through this loophole and not paying the user fee," Bowman said.

Those who willfully evade paying registration fees would be subject to a fine.

The standings bill is traditionally viewed as the last opportunity to move legislation before the session ends.

Senate Republicans failed to add a contentious policy initially proposed by Secretary of State Matt Schultz that would require voters to present a photo ID at the polls.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Red Oak, said though there were few cases of voter fraud in Iowa, those cases could determine an election.

"What we don't know is how many cases of fraud are out there that go undetected because we're not using some form of voter identification," she said.