This week in the Iowa Legislature

The second funnel week is over, and hundreds of bills are now ineligible for further consideration by the Legislature until the 2024 session. Compared to past years, this was a very mild funnel week as few subcommittee and committee meetings were held. A majority of the bills intended to be passed were moved through both chambers earlier or died before the Second Funnel. However, there were a few pieces of legislation this week that squeaked by and survived. Below find an updated list of the major pieces of legislation Still Alive, Dead, or those which have already been signed into law.

***Please remember this is the first time we’ve had a Second Funnel deadline using our new AdvoKit bill-tracking software. If you see a discrepancy between your bill tracker and the legislative website, please let us know so we can correct the issue. We appreciate your patience as we work to get any kinks resolved.

New Laws

Some of the high-profile bills that beat both funnel deadlines include a state-funded education voucher program for private schools, a complete government reorganization bill, a total cap of two million dollars for medical malpractice lawsuits, property tax rate rollback, and a ban on gender-affirming care for Iowans.

Still Alive

Other high-profile bills making the deadline but awaiting floor consideration include the Governor’s education reform bills, property tax reform, over-the-counter birth control, eligibility for SNAP and Medicaid benefits, hands-free driving, child labor laws, limitations on the discussion of sexual identity in public schools and book bans, guns in employer parking lots, State Apprenticeship Act, IDEA MEGA bill which would increase the number of acres of Iowa land a foreign entity can purchase for development, prohibiting local governments from using energy benchmarking, restitution requirements for human trafficking victims, and changes to the authority of the state auditor’s office.

Dead Bills

Hundreds of bills failed to make the deadline this week including controversial bills limiting the use of eminent domain for carbon capture pipelines, the prohibition of same-sex marriage, reinstating the death penalty, patient access issues, mandatory e-verify for employers, permanent daylight savings, and the prohibition of spending taxpayer dollars for diversity, equity, and inclusion training at state universities.

Governor Reynolds Signs New Bills into Law

Governor Kim Reynolds signed two bills this week including House File 75 which increases support for ambulatory and emergency services for hospitals in rural Iowa. The Governor said the bill “is part of our unwavering commitment to ensuring all Iowans receive the quality medical care they need and deserve.” She also signed Senate File 262 which protects consumer data from being collected and enforces civil penalties if breached. Iowa is the sixth state to enact such a law. 

SNAP Benefit Limitations Bill Moves Forward

This controversial legislation has been in both chambers for at least five years without being sent to the Governor. This year, the House introduced their own version after refusing to consider the bills sent over from the Senate in previous years. SF 494 passed the Senate last week and the House Appropriations subcommittee this week on party line votes. The bill would require Iowans to complete an asset test form and anyone with over $15,000 dollars in assets won’t be eligible for SNAP benefits. Senator Edler, the bill’s author and champion said, “tax dollars are being issued to individuals erroneously.” While Democrats argue that SNAP enrollment is at an all-time low, and food pantries can’t keep up with the public’s demand. If the current bill is signed into law, it will cost the state millions of dollars to implement while 2,800 people will lose their benefits. The fate of the bill is still unknown.

Trucker Tort Reform

The only floor work in either chamber this week was in the House on Tuesday when they passed SF 228 and sent it back to the Senate where it was attached to its companion and was passed earlier this session. Republicans opposing the bill with all Democrats were Reps. Cisneros, Jones, Hayes, Gustafson, Young, and Andrews. The House amended their bill to cap lawsuits related to trucking or commercial driving accidents at $5 million. The Senate bill included more employer protections, including liability in hiring, training, and supervising an employee. There is clearly more work to be done on this bill before it makes its way to the Governor.

Looking Ahead

With the second funnel in the rearview, floor debate will increase, and the legislature will tackle budget bills and property tax legislation as legislators hopefully prepare for adjournment at the end of April. Policy committees are done considering legislation for the session. The House’s policy committee’s work is completely done while the Senate Committees may meet to consider gubernatorial appointments, but nothing else. As budget targets and bills are released, we will provide updates on the overall budget discussions and your key budget priorities. *Please note the Senate introduced shell budget bills this week to get the process started. There are no numbers in the bills at this time until individual budget targets are announced, which could come as early as next week!