This week in the Iowa Legislature

Funnel week is finally over! This past week was a busy one finally wrapping up after 1 am this morning as the first funnel deadline comes to a close. Numerous bills were quickly pushed through the subcommittee and committee process, as lawmakers negotiated to keep their bills alive through the pending deadline. Below see an update on the high-profile bills prioritized during this first funnel.

***Please remember this is the first time we’ve had a 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!***

State Reorganization

After hours of hearing testimony in subcommittee meetings over the past two weeks, the House and Senate State Government Committees advanced HSB 126 and SSB 1123, the Governor’s 1,700-page government reorganization bill. Debate on the House went into the early morning hours on Friday, with the committee concluding after more than 40 Democrat-offered amendments were voted down.

Public Benefit Qualifications

Asset testing for SNAP benefits advanced through both HHS Committees. Although legislators have been unable to enact these bills in past sessions, the House found success with Speaker Grassley as the lead sponsor. HF 3 has 38 Republican co-sponsors and passed by a close margin of three votes in the House committee. The Senate companion, SSB 1105, is also a live round.

Child Labor Legislation

SF 167 and HSB 134 would allow for Iowa’s 14- to 17-year-olds to work certain jobs with parental permission. 16- and 17-year-olds in Iowa could work in bars and sell or serve drinks, with parental permission; 15-year-olds could perform “light” assembly work, provided it is not on a machine or in an area with machines; and 14-year-olds could work in meat lockers. Labor organizations continue to vehemently oppose this legislation arguing it takes Iowa backward in protecting children from harmful and dangerous work environments.

Eminent Domain Limitations

The House Judiciary Committee passed HF 368, with most of the Democrats voting against the bill. The legislation would stop pipeline companies from using eminent domain unless they secure 90 percent of their proposed route with voluntary easements. The bill also increases allowable damages to be recovered by impacted landowners.

Transgender Bills

Several bills on gender passed through the Education Committees this week. SF 335 requires schools to designate school bathrooms for the use of one sex and requires students to use the bathroom that corresponds to their biological sex. HF 367 prohibits schools from punishing students or teachers for failing to use a preferred pronoun or name. SSB 1197 and HSB 214 prohibit gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

Firearm Accessibility

SSB 1168 and HSB 173 advanced through their respective committees this week. These bills require government and private business owners to allow their employees to carry, transport, or possess concealed firearms in their locked personal vehicles while on the premises. The bills also allow parents to keep a firearm in their vehicle while on school property when picking up or dropping off their student, permits authorized school bus drivers to keep weapons or ammunition in the school vehicle’s passenger compartment while transporting students, and prohibits community colleges and state universities from banning firearms in vehicles on campus property.

Looking Ahead

With the first legislative funnel deadline behind us, a new phase of the session begins. The pace of the week will slow down as it will largely be consumed with caucus and floor debate as the focus shifts from committee work to the chambers’ respective floors. Both the House and Senate have scheduled meetings for the Ways & Means and Appropriations Committees, but the general policy committees will not meet this coming week.

Each chamber has hundreds of bills they could consider, many of which will require passage from a subcommittee and committee in the opposite chamber to make the second funnel—which falls on Friday, March 31st. It is now time for leadership to sort through all the bills and determine the policy priorities they want to move forward this session. To stay up to date on scheduled committees and subcommittees and their virtual access information, follow this link.