DES MOINES, Iowa - The Iowa legislature opens its 2021 session a week from Monday with the COVID-19 pandemic on a steady decline since November's peak.
The Republican controlled legislature will conduct business in person without any requirement for face masks at the capitol.
Lawmakers are making plans to offer online viewing of committee hearings and reduce the number of staff members working onsite.
Some Democrats have expressed concern over the lack of a face mask requirement ahead of the upcoming session.
The two parties also disagree over how the state's more than $300 million budget surplus should be used. Republicans have floated the idea of cutting taxes, while some Democrats want to support people suffering from food insecurity or job losses during the pandemic.
The divide has been expressed from office holders on the statewide level.
Democratic State Auditor Rob Sand contends state funds should be used to provide financial help to people and businesses. Republican Governor Kim Reynolds says the state doesn’t have enough money to make everyone whole, and has argued Congress should approve additional federal aid.
The 2021 Iowa legislature is scheduled to finish its annual session on April 20th. Republicans hold a 32-18 majority in the Senate and a 59-41 majority in the House.