2023 legislative preview canceled after GOP leaders decline participation

Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley, Sen. Amy Sinclair, House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst and Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, from left, participated Jan. 4, 2022, in a legislative forum sponsored by the Iowa Capitol Press Association. PHOTO BY KATHIE OBRADOVICH/IOWA CAPITAL DISPATCH

The Iowa Capitol Press Association announced Tuesday, Jan. 3, it would cancel its 2023 legislative preview forum as state Republican leaders declined to participate in the event, which had been held annually for more than 20 years.

Gov. Kim Reynolds, Republican Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver and Republican House Speaker Pat Grassley all declined their invitations to the forum, previously hosted by the Associated Press, according to the ICPA.

“The Iowa Capitol Press Association is very disappointed with this decision by Republican statehouse leaders, a decision that continues an unsettling trend of reduced availability to Iowa journalists,” the organization said in a statement. “The ICPA continues to believe elected officials who craft state laws and operate state government should be accessible to the journalists who monitor that work on behalf of all Iowans.”

The organization, made up of journalists who cover Iowa state government, said it hopes to resume the forum next year, or “at another time in another form.”

Iowa Republicans are heading into this year’s session having expanded their majority in the House and winning a supermajority in the Senate in the 2022 midterms. On the 2022 campaign trail, Reynolds advocated for her private school scholarship proposal, which failed to pass the House in the past two legislative sessions. She declined commenting on future plans for abortion legislation, focusing on advocating for the Iowa courts to enforce laws like the 2018 so-called “fetal heartbeat” law, which is currently blocked by an injunction.

Iowa House Democrats unveiled their “People Over Politics” agenda in September, with plans to advocate for protecting abortion access, legalizing adult use of marijuana, lowering costs of living and investing in public education. House Republicans, in addition to both parties in the Senate, have not yet released an official agenda for 2023.

The legislative session will begin Monday, Jan. 9.

Iowa Capital Dispatch note: Iowa Capital Dispatch Editor Kathie Obradovich is vice president of the Iowa Capitol Press Association.