Iowa's 2013 Legislative session is set to begin Monday, and, after years of cutting the budget, lawmakers will be facing an unusual dilemma: what do with a billion dollar surplus?
Governor Terry Branstad will release his budget plans Tuesday, and is expected to announce plans to invest in education and cut commercial property taxes.
Some Republican lawmakers also want income tax reductions. Meanwhile, some Democrats are pushing to expand Medicaid.
The big thing one of our representatives, Democratic State Senator Joe Seng, will be pushing for: changes to the way our food is labeled. For Seng, it is all about choices for the consumer, so they know what they are taking home.
Much of the produce we eat on a day to day basis has been altered in some way. But, when we go to grocery store, the only choices we have are organic or non-organic produce.
In the upcoming legislative session, however, the Iowa Senate will be discussing whether there should be more labeling - this time to make the distinction between produce that is grown from genetically modified seeds and produce that is grown from conventional seeds.
The question, of course: What does it mean when seeds are genetically modified?
The answer: Well, it's complicated.
But, farmers around the area we spoke to this weekend reminded us that even though something comes from a natural seed, several pesticides are probably used on the plant - while the modified seeds leave little need for that.
"In agriculture, we've always preached about science. And if the science is there, to produce more feed, more food, more calories for the world, we need to use it and embrace it," one local farmer, Robb Ewoldt, said.
Ewoldt also said that he used genetically modified seeds and he has seen significant yield increases using that.
And, although more yield means bigger profits, he says he would change to conventional seeds if a reputable study could prove modified seeds were harmful to humans.
Food labeling isn't the only issue on Joe Seng's to-do list when Iowa's legislature gets back to work.
A discussion on selecting your own grade of ethanol with blender pumps is also on the agenda, as well as addressing a gas tax option that could generate $20 million for the state.