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Bet on debate

Iowa legislative leaders expect robust discussion of legalized gambling in the state during the upcoming session, The Journal's Des Moines bureau reported on Thursday.

This, after a 6-3 Supreme Court ruling last year striking down the 1992 federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or Bradley Act, through which most states, including Iowa, were prohibited from the establishment of sports wagering.

As we have said before, we welcome full debate with an eye toward passage of legalized sports betting through which Iowans and the state of Iowa can get a piece of this popular activity. For nearly 40 years, casinos have been part of this state's landscape. Today, nearly two dozen casinos produce an economic impact of some $1 billion each year.

The addition of sports betting represents a natural next step in the evolution of gambling in Iowa.

Sticking around

Debi Durham not only will stay in the administration of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds as Economic Development Authority director, but she was named on Tuesday the director of the Iowa Finance Authority (she was serving as director on an interim basis), an agency placed in the spotlight following the firing of its former director by Reynolds in March over what her office called "credible" allegations of sexual harassment.

We have respected the work of Durham since her days as president of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce and The Siouxland Initiative. In our view, the fact she plans to remain in a position of leadership in state government benefits Iowa.

Mr. President Pro Tempore

Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley was sworn in on Jan. 3 as U.S. Senate president pro tempore.

Traditionally the most senior member of the majority party, the Senate president pro tempore is third in the line of presidential succession following the vice president and U.S. House speaker.

Grassley succeeds Orrin Hatch of Utah, who retired.

"This constitutional office is another opportunity to deliver results for the people of Iowa and to defend the institution of the greatest deliberative body on Earth, the United States Senate," Grassley said. "I may only be three heartbeats away from the Oval Office, but my heart is and always will be in Iowa and here in the U.S. Senate."

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Health care costs keep rising

Americans spend more than twice as much for health care than people in other developed countries and more than double what they spent less than 20 years ago, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University reported in a Tribune News Service story in Wednesday's Journal.

The amount spent per person in the United States in 2016 was $9,892, 117 percent more than the amount spent in 2000 when researchers at Johns Hopkins first collected such data. The spending was 145 percent higher than the average of 36 industrialized nations that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

"In spite of all the efforts in the U.S. to control health spending over the past 25 years, the story remains the same - the U.S. remains the most expensive because of the prices the U.S. pays for health services," said Gerard F. Anderson, the study's lead author. "It's not that we're getting more; it's that we're paying much more."

Firearms don't belong in Capitol

According to an Associated Press story in Tuesday's Journal, South Dakotans can expect introduction of a bill during this legislative session to allow concealed guns inside the state Capitol.

In an April 2017 editorial, we praised former Gov. Dennis Daugaard for vetoing a bill to allow guns at the South Dakota Capitol in Pierre (state lawmakers failed to override the veto). We urge new Gov. Kristi Noem to strike a similar position on this issue.

We offer this alternative suggestion for consideration by South Dakota legislators: Spend the money for creation of security checkpoints with metal detectors at Capitol entrances.

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