Iowa 2021 Legislative Report – Week 14

The 110th day of the legislative session is two weeks from today.  Debate is now limited to: bills passed by both chambers, Appropriations bills, Ways and Means bills, Government Oversight bills, Administrative Rules Review Committee bills, conference committee bills, leadership bills, concurrent/simple resolutions, and bills placed on the unfinished business calendar (note: there are a few exceptions that are not listed). 

A version of every budget bill, including the Senate version of HHS which was introduced on Thursday, April 15, has now been introduced.  Legislators have two weeks to wrap up work on the FY2021-2022 budget and a number of outstanding policy issues, including major tax issues, before per-diem payments end on April 30.

Appropriations

Work this week was largely focused on appropriations. This week, the Senate introduced and voted five budget bills out of the full Appropriations committee:

  • Agriculture and Natural Resources budget (SSB1261)
  • Judicial Branch budget (SSB1262)
  • Education budget (SF596)
  • Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF) budget (SF600)
  • Justice Systems budget (SF599)

The House introduced and voted out their version of the Economic Development budget (HF871). 

Each chamber has now finished committee work on most of the budget bills, with two exceptions: 

  • The Health and Human Services budget (HHS) was just introduced in the Senate on Thursday, April 15 (SSB1267); the House has yet to introduce its version of the HHS budget.
  • The Standings budget, which includes Standing appropriations and typically a number of outstanding policy provisions, is not yet introduced and is not expected until the final days of the session (this bill is typically the last train out of the station).

Even though each chamber has approved its own versions of almost every budget bill, the House and the Senate have not yet agreed on joint targets.  The House and the Senate will still need to agree on an overall number for the FY2021-2022 budget as well as the details for every budget.  There are a lot of negotiations ahead for budget subcommittee chairs, Appropriations chairs, and leadership.

Appropriations billsHouseSenateFinal
Supplemental FY21SF284SF284 (Signed by Gov 2/23)
SSA In-PersonHF532
Admin & RegulationHF 867SF594
Ag & Natural ResourcesHF860SF598
Economic DevelopmentHF871SF595
EducationHF 868SF596
HHSSSB1267
Judicial BranchHF864SF597
Justice SystemHF861SF599
Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF)HF862SF600
TransportationHF863SF592
Standings

Floor work

The House and the Senate continue to send bills back and forth, at least half a dozen bills were returned to their originating chamber for reconsideration (with new amendments).  Time is running short to resolve differences in these bouncing bills. 

On Tuesday, in a rare move, House leadership adopted a Time-Certain motion to finish debate on Commercial Vehicle Claims (HF772) by 6:30 PM, but then the chamber did not take up the bill.  This is one of two bills limiting liability (Commercial Vehicle Claims HF772 and Medical Malpractice Awards HF592) that have stalled on the House calendar.

The majority of the floor work on Wednesday in the House was devoted to the “Back the Blue” debate.  Much of the debate time was spent on a procedural issue; the House called up their Officer Discipline bill HF698 and attempted to–and after much conversation in the well, eventually did–conform it to the Senate Brady List Study bill SF342 and made additional changes. 

The original Senate bill restricted the use of Brady lists to discipline officers and called for an interim study on the issue; the Senate approved this bill unanimously.  The House offered a strike-after amendment and replaced SF342 with a number of new provisions, including: 

  • qualified immunity for law enforcement
  • increased penalties for crimes related to protests
  • allowing retired officers to use accrued sick leave to pay for insurance
  • changes to worker’s comp payments

The amendment also added back in the provision of the original bill related to the Brady List. 

Democrats were disappointed that Republicans did not provide the opportunity to add provisions to stop racial profiling by police and other criminal justice matters (earlier this session, Governor Reynolds introduced a criminal justice reform bill that included provisions on both “Back the Blue” and racial profiling). 

Democrats also stated during the debate that the amendment violates state law because Republicans did not have a correctional impact statement drawn up before passing the amendment.  SF342 as amended passed the House 63-30 with eight Democrats voting with the Republicans for the bill and two Republicans voting with the Democrats against the bill.  The bill now returns to the Senate for reconsideration.

Executive Branch

The Governor signed 11 bills on Monday, April 12.  All but two of these bills, Childcare Numbers HF260 and Fuel Choice HF555, were sent down with unanimous approval in both chambers.  See full Governor bill list below.

Governor Reynolds released a statement on the death of State Patrol Trooper Jim Smith, who was shot in the line of duty on Friday, April 9:

“It’s with deep sorrow that we recognize the loss of Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Jim Smith, a courageous hero who died in the line of duty. Sergeant Jim Smith was a loving husband, father of two, and a pillar of the community. I along with the entire state of Iowa grieve for his family and friends as they try to cope with this devastating loss. Today we are once again reminded of the selfless sacrifices the brave men and women in uniform make. Let us never forget their bravery and that of their loved ones.”

BillBill TitleDate PassedGovernor Signature
SF 160A bill for an act relating to temporary in-person and remote learning instruction and instructional time requirements for school districts and accredited nonpublic schools, and including effective date provisions. (Formerly SSB 1064.) Effective date: 01/29/2021.1/28/20211/29/2021
SJR 7A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Iowa relating to the right of the people to keep and bear arms. (Formerly SJR 1.)1/28/20212/8/2021
SF 269A bill for an act relating to public school funding by establishing the state percent of growth and the categorical state percent of growth for the budget year beginning July 1, 2021, modifying provisions relating to the regular program state cost per pupil, modifying provisions relating to the property tax replacement payment and the transportation equity payments, and including effective date provisions. (Formerly SSB 1159.) Effective date: 02/23/2021.2/17/20212/23/2021
SF 284A bill for an act relating to financial and regulatory matters by making appropriations for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020, and including effective date provisions. (Formerly SSB 1162.) Effective date: 02/23/2021.2/18/20212/23/2021
HF 200A bill for an act relating to the military code and duty performed by a member of the United States coast guard. (Formerly HSB 43.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.2/3/20213/8/2021
HF 231A bill for an act relating to a special sentence for sexual abuse committed during a burglary. (Formerly HSB 18.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.2/17/20213/8/2021
HF 232A bill for an act relating to the crime of disorderly conduct and making penalties applicable. (Formerly HSB 29.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.2/9/20213/8/2021
HF 235A bill for an act relating to service charges on consumer credit transactions. (Formerly HSB 69.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.2/9/20213/8/2021
HF 283A bill for an act creating the criminal offense of defrauding a drug or alcohol test and providing penalties. (Formerly HSB 22.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.2/17/20213/8/2021
HF 308A bill for an act relating to eligibility requirements for students under the senior year plus program and including effective date and applicability provisions. (Formerly HSB 110.) Effective date: 03/08/2021.2/23/20213/8/2021
HF 386A bill for an act striking certain reporting requirements related to nonprofit school organizations established by school districts. (Formerly HSB 107.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.2/17/20213/8/2021
HF 418A bill for an act relating to property tax levies, exemptions, classifications, assessment limitations, and administration, and including effective date and applicability provisions. (Formerly HSB 93.) Effective date: 01/01/2022. Applicability date: 01/01/2022.2/23/20213/8/2021
SF 130A bill for an act relating to a temporary exception to a limitation on compensation for a member of a board of directors of a school corporation, and including effective date provisions. (Formerly SSB 1041.) Effective date: 03/08/2021.2/17/20213/8/2021
SF 173A bill for an act relating to trusts, including requirements for certifications of trust and the general order of abatement. (Formerly SSB 1012.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.2/16/20213/8/2021
SF 231A bill for an act regarding driving privileges of persons issued a special minor’s driver’s license, and making penalties applicable. (Formerly SF 79.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.2/16/20213/8/2021
SF 239A bill for an act relating to proper parties in causes of actions following the death of persons entitled or liable to such causes of actions and including applicability provisions. (Formerly SSB 1009.) Effective date: 07/01/2021. Applicability date: 07/01/2021.2/16/20213/8/2021
SF 240A bill for an act relating to the creation, administration, and termination of custodial trusts. (Formerly SSB 1016.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.2/10/20213/8/2021
SF 285A bill for an act relating to suspension of a student’s participation in the all Iowa opportunity scholarship program. (Formerly SSB 1068.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.2/17/20213/8/2021
SF 314A bill for an act relating to approval of executive branch employee travel claims. (Formerly SSB 1119.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.2/23/20213/8/2021
SF 343A bill for an act relating to authorized access to certain confidential records by employees of the department of corrections, a judicial district department of correctional services, and the board of parole. (Formerly SSB 1102.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.2/17/20213/8/2021
SF 413A bill for an act relating to the conduct of elections, including absentee ballots and voter list maintenance activities, making penalties applicable, and including effective date and applicability provisions. (Formerly SSB 1199.) Effective date: 03/08/2021. Applicability date: 01/01/2022.2/24/20213/8/2021
HF 560A bill for an act relating to financial assurance instruments and surety bonds required for collecting, processing, or transporting waste tires, and making penalties applicable. (Formerly HSB 177.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/10/20213/22/2021
SF 129A bill for an act relating to specialty areas, service commitment area distance requirements, and practice-related requirements under the rural Iowa primary care loan repayment program. (Formerly SSB 1042.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.2/16/20213/22/2021
SF 232A bill for an act relating to notice and reclamation requirements for abandoned vehicles taken into custody by a police authority or private entity. (Formerly SSB 1025.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/9/20213/22/2021
SF 235A bill for an act relating to the denial and contest of probate claims. (Formerly SSB 1037.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/8/20213/22/2021
SF 261A bill for an act authorizing the college student aid commission to organize a nonprofit corporation. (Formerly SSB 1069.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/8/20213/22/2021
SF 289A bill for an act relating to the powers and duties of the boards of directors of area education agencies, school districts, and school corporations, and to the election of a director as school board president. (Formerly SSB 1133.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/9/20213/22/2021
SF 307A bill for an act relating to the examination and transportation of dead bodies, including associated fees and costs. (Formerly SF 106.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/8/20213/22/2021
SF 353A bill for an act relating to drainage and levee districts, by providing for notices to interested persons including landowners in the district, and for repairs that require a report by an engineer or soil and water conservation district conservationist. (Formerly SSB 1180.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/9/20213/22/2021
SF 482A bill for an act regulating the application of pesticides, including by providing for the certification of applicators, and certain actions taken by the department of agriculture and land stewardship against private applicators, and providing penalties. (Formerly SSB 1214.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/10/20213/22/2021
HF 280A bill for an act authorizing the department of transportation to renew certain valid commercial driver’s licenses without examination, including by electronic renewal, and including effective date provisions. (Formerly HSB 99.) Effective date: 04/02/2021.3/29/20214/2/2021
HF 382A bill for an act authorizing the department of transportation to issue special permits allowing the transportation of loads of relief supplies that exceed statutory weight limits during periods of national emergency. (Formerly HSB 100.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/29/20214/2/2021
HF 389A bill for an act relating to chauffeurs and exempting certain persons from the requirement to be licensed as a chauffeur. (Formerly HSB 83.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/22/20214/2/2021
HF 621A bill for an act establishing which actions may be brought against firearm, firearm accessory, and ammunition manufacturers, distributors, importers, trade associations, sellers, or dealers. (Formerly HSB 116.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/22/20214/2/2021
HF 756A bill for an act relating to the acquisition and possession of weapons and providing penalties. (Formerly HSB 254.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/22/20214/2/2021
SF 230A bill for an act relating to wrecked or salvage motor vehicles. (Formerly SSB 1028.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.2/16/20214/2/2021
HF 260A bill for an act relating to the number of children receiving child care at any one time in a child care home. (Formerly HSB 7.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/29/20214/12/2021
HF 368A bill for an act relating to the administration of the reimbursement for rent constituting property taxes paid and related matters and including effective date provisions. (Formerly HSB 120.) Effective date: 04/12/2021.3/22/20214/12/2021
HF 495A bill for an act relating to certain reporting dates for cities which receive road use tax fund moneys. (Formerly HSB 101.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/22/20214/12/2021
HF 552A bill for an act relating to requirements for using a dog to track a wounded deer. (Formerly HF 23.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/29/20214/12/2021
HF 555A bill for an act prohibiting counties and cities from regulating the sale of natural gas and propane. (Formerly HSB 166.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/29/20214/12/2021
HF 559A bill for an act relating to financial assistance provided by the economic development authority to certain apprenticeship sponsors and lead apprenticeship sponsors, and including applicability provisions. (Formerly HSB 202.) Effective date: 07/01/2021. Applicability date: 07/01/2021.3/22/20214/12/2021
HF 655A bill for an act prohibiting interference with the transportation of an agricultural animal, and providing penalties. (Formerly HSB 188.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/22/20214/12/2021
SF 172A bill for an act relating to the definition of sex act or sexual activity for purposes of the Iowa criminal code. (Formerly SSB 1013.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.2/10/20214/12/2021
SF 253A bill for an act relating to sexual abuse in the second degree and sexual abuse in the third degree. (Formerly SSB 1014.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.2/16/20214/12/2021
SF 444A bill for an act relating to motor vehicles, including the surrender or transfer of registration plates and cards to a county treasurer, documentary fees charged by motor vehicle dealers, and motor vehicle franchise obligations. (Formerly SSB 1206.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/29/20214/12/2021
SF 548A bill for an act relating to the regulation of advertising devices near certain highways. (Formerly SSB 1220.) Effective date: 07/01/2021.3/11/20214/12/2021

Iowa 2021 Legislative Report – Week 13

Budgets and floor debate dominated week 13.  Most of the work was packed into Tuesday, April 6, and Wednesday, April 7, with short sessions at the beginning and end of the week.  Debate was limited to bills that were previously placed on the Unfinished Business Calendar and bills that were received by the opposite chamber (e.g. the House was considering Senate bills and the Senate was considering House bills). 

Both chambers took this opportunity to clear calendars.  We are now four weeks out from the 110th day of session, April 30.  In addition to tackling the FY2021-2022 budget and number of outstanding policy issues, the legislature will also need to come to agree on major tax issues included in SF576 (Inheritance Tax/Tax Triggers) and SF87 (Property Tax Reform). 

Appropriations

Floor work was limited on Monday, April 5, though Appropriations work began heating up with the Senate Appropriations advancing SSB1256 (now SF592) the Transportation budget on a bipartisan vote (20-0), the first of the budget bills to move this appropriations season.  The Senate introduced and moved additional budget bills for this session, including the Block Grants/COVID Funds appropriation (SSB1257) and the Administration and Regulation appropriation (SF594). 

Appropriations work was not left to the Senate this week, the House also began efforts to introduce and move budget bills.  On Tuesday, April 6, three House appropriations subcommittees met to move five budgets: 

  1. Agriculture and Natural Resources appropriations (HF860)
  2. Justice Systems appropriations (HF861)
  3. Judicial Branch appropriations (HF864)
  4. Transportation appropriations (HF862)
  5. Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF) appropriation (HF863

All five bills were moved out of subcommittee on Tuesday and out of full House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.  The House rounded out the week with the Education appropriations subcommittee approving the Education appropriation and the full House Appropriation committee voting out the Administration and Regulation appropriation (HF867).

Most significant in the House version of the Administration and Regulation Appropriation budget (HF867) is the $100 million appropriation for the Broadband Grant program (HF848).  The policy for the program has been approved by both chambers (see below), but the House and the Senate still need to reach an agreement on funding.  The Governor proposed $450 million over three years.  The House has included $100 million in HF867 and stated that this is a more realistic funding level.

Coming into this week, the legislature had not introduced a single budget bill–now every budget bill has been introduced and most advanced, with only the HHS budget and the Standings left to be introduced.  The House has not released overall budget targets for this year; the Senate has set an overall target of $7.999 billion but has not released individual budget targets for appropriations subcommittees. 

The House and the Senate will have a lot of work ahead to advance budget bills through the opposite chambers and to reconcile those budgets that have been started in both chambers (versions of the Administration and Regulation and the Transportation budgets have been introduced in both chambers; typically one chamber is assigned to start a bill and that budget will advance through the appropriations committee process then through each chamber).  

Appropriations billsHouseSenateFinal
Supplemental FY21 SF284SF284 (Signed by Gov 2/23)
SSA In-PersonHF532  
Block Grants/COVID Funds SSB1257 
Admin & RegulationHF867SF594 
Ag & Natural ResourcesHF860  
Economic Development SF595 
Education LSB 1003YA  
HHS   
Judicial BranchHF864  
Justice SystemsHF861  
Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF)HF862  
TransportationHF863SF592 
Standings   

Floor work

In addition to appropriations work in committee, Tuesday, April 6, brought floor action in both chambers.  The House passed eight bills with bipartisan or near bipartisan support.  Action in the Senate on Tuesday was very different, they advanced 11 bills and one resolution, among those were four significant priority bills:

Property Tax Reform (SF587)

The Senate introduced this massive tax package two weeks ago; the floor manager of the bill stated that the bill makes bold changes to tax policy that the state needs, addressing inequities in the current system and bringing relief to property taxpayers.  The bill does this by shifting the costs of mental health from the cities and counties to the state; the Democrats have serious reservations about the state taking over mental health funding and the control localities will have over mental health services.  Provisions included in the bill:

  • Creation of a Mental Health and Disability Services regional fund; establishes funding formula and creates a risk pool.
    • Eliminates property tax replacement payments (backfill) to local government as of FY 2028; establishes a new formula for payments to phase out the backfill from Fy 2023-2028. 
    • Increases the state school aid base to 88.4% as of the 2022-2023 school year.
    • Eliminates the tax trigger requirement before the 2018 income tax changes take effect (see also SF576).
    • Strikes the charitable conservation donation income tax deduction.
    • Makes changes to:
      • Calculating income tax deduction
      • Makes changes to the elderly property tax credit
      • Makes changes to the forest/fruit tree property tax credit

The bill passed the Senate (30-17) and now goes to the House.   The House does not have a similar tax plan and will have to decide whether they want to take up the Senate tax bills (SF576 (Inheritance Tax/Tax Triggers) and SF87 (Property Tax Reform).  These tax bills will likely become a large part of the conversation as we approach the end of the legislative session.

No Right to Abortion Constitutional Amendment (HJR5)

This bill proposed an amendment to the Iowa Constitution to defend the life of unborn children, that no right to abortion can be found in the Iowa Constitution.  The bill was passed by the House in January.  The Senate conformed to the House Resolution to SJR2 the No Right to Abortion amendment that was filed by the Senate; the Senate version provides additional language on the dignity of life and on protecting mothers and unborn children against the expansion of abortion rights, in addition to the language that no right to abortion can be found in the Iowa Constitution.  The Senate adopted the resolution as amended (30-17) and the bill now returns to the House for further action.

Broadband Grants (HF848)

Expanding broadband in rural Iowa is a priority for the Governor this legislative session.  HF848 creates a framework for broadband grants for underserved areas. The bill passed the Senate on Tuesday unanimously (47-0) (this bill has been a bipartisan effort and has received a vote of approval from every legislator present to vote ‘yes’ on the bill).  Now that the House and Senate have both approved HF848, the bill goes to the Governor for her signature.  HF848 provides the policy related to broadband service, legislators still need to determine the funding level for the grants in the appropriation process (see the Administration and Regulation Appropriation budget (HF867) information above).

Voluntary Diversity Plans (HF228)

HF228 strikes the implementation of a voluntary diversity plan as a reason for denying open enrollment and strikes the requirement that the State Board of Education adopts rules on voluntary diversity plans.  The bill has now been voted on and approved by the Senate twice.  This time, the Senate amended the bill to make it effective upon enactment and to waive open enrollment deadlines for the upcoming (2021-2022) school year.  The amended bill passed on a party-line vote (29-17) and now returns to the House for them to consider the bill with the new effective date.  Republicans believe that hundreds of parents are denied the right to open-enroll due to diversity plans and this bill will empower them; Democrats believe these plans are small efforts that are used by a small number of districts to improve diversity in their schools.

Thursday, April 8, brought more floor work, but a lighter load–both chambers ran non-controversial bills moving a total of 28 bills down to the Governor.  To date, the legislature has enrolled and sent 65 bills down to the Governor.

Redistricting

The Iowa Supreme Court issued a statement on redistricting.  The Court said that while it cannot commit to a future course of action, it is prepared to meet its constitutional responsibility as directed by Iowa Code Chapter 42 if the legislature is unable to meet the constitutional deadline for redistricting due to the lack of data from the U.S. Census Bureau.  Under the Iowa Constitution, the duty to draw redistricting maps falls on the Supreme Court if the legislature has not approved a new map by September 15.

Iowa 2021 Legislative Report – Week 12

In Week 12, the Iowa Legislature passed through the second funnel and Rita Hart dropped her contest of the election results. The Governor has signed over three dozen bills.

The close of the twelfth week brought the close of the second legislative funnel.  This legislative milestone narrows the policy discussion for the remainder of session.  Going forward, only bills that have advanced through one chamber and through committee in the opposite chamber can be considered in addition to appropriations bills and ways and means bills.  Effectively, committee work on policy has come to completion for the legislative session.  Senate committees will continue to meet to consider Governor appointments, though that work is slated to be completed by the end of week 14 (April 15). 

Next week will bring a flurry of floor action, as the Senate will consider House bills and the House will consider Senate bills.  The 110th calendar day of session falls on April 30.  The legislature is not required to adjourn sine die by that date, but the per diem payments for legislators end on the 110th calendar day. 

Going forward, the emphasis will be on appropriations (and taxes).  We expect consideration of the tax proposals (Tax Bill SF576–accelerating the income tax triggers/phasing out the inheritance tax–and Property Tax Reform SF576) to be a significant portion of the shut-down conversation and final budget.  We have not yet seen budget bills released by either chamber, but the Senate has released an overall target of $7.99 billion ($110 million less than the Governor’s proposed budget).  In a typical year, work on the budget may take two to three weeks to complete, so the legislature is still on pace to finish session on time.  Last year, due to the delays imposed by the pandemic, the legislature passed one large omnibus budget bill during an eleven-day session in June rather than separate budget bills.

Two Governor priorities advanced this week.  Broadband Grants (HF848) passed the House 94-0 on Monday.  The bill will help the state achieve the goal of connecting all of Iowa to high-speed broadband although it merely provides the policy related to broadband service and the grant program, it does not allocate the funding for broadband. The House Ways and Means Committee approved the Governor’s Renewable Fuel bill (HSB185) on Thursday after amending the bill with a strike and replace amendment. The original bill restricted the sale of gasoline with an ethanol blend; the amended bill loosens those restrictions but includes a phase-out of non-ethanol fuels. The House and Senate now have two different versions of the Renewable Fuel proposal.

Bills that survived the second funnel:

Just this week, the following four bills advanced out of the Senate Education Committee, making them alive and eligible for further consideration this session.  These education bills continue to be a hot topic this session:

  • Racism Training (HF802) — Establishes requirements for training on racism and sexism in schools and colleges and state and local government, including prohibiting teaching that Iowa is fundamentally racist or sexist.
  • College Free Speech (HF744) — Requires the Regents and community colleges to develop policies for protecting 1st Amendment rights and free speech.
  • Qualified Supplemental Appropriation (HF439) — Allocates state money (about $30 million) to K-12 schools to offset costs of COVID-19 in-person learning.  This funding is only available to those schools that complied with Governor Reynolds’ mandate that schools return to in-person learning. The number of in-person instruction days between August 10 and January 29 will be used to calculate supplemental appropriation.
  • Charter Schools (HF813) — Establishes new provisions on charter schools, allowing the establishment of a charter school by founding groups under a school board, or under the State Board of Education.

Other bills that remain eligible for consideration:

  • PPP Loans (SF364) — Exempt business PPP loans/federal jobless benefits from state taxation.
  • Tax Bill (SF576) — Accelerates the income tax triggers and phases out inheritance tax.
  • Property Tax Reform (SF587) — Revamps mental health funding and cuts property taxes.
  • Tech Censorship (SF580/HF633) — Removes state incentives to big tech due to social media censorship.
  • “Back the Blue” (SF534) — Enhanced police protections and penalties for certain crimes.
  • Medical Malpractice/Trucking Accidents (SF537/HF772) — caps medical malpractice and trucking mishap awards at $1 million.
  • Bottle Bill (SF470) — Revamps Iowa’s bottle redemption law and allows grocery stores to opt out.
  • Number of Children at Daycare Centers (HF260)/Childcare Workforce Matching Grants (HF301/HF302) — Childcare bills that would expand access to and affordability of child care (GOP priority this session).

A number of the Governor’s proposals survived the legislative funnel:

  • Affordable Housing (SSB1142/HF178) — Governor’s proposal to expand affordable housing.
  • Broadband (SF390/HF848) — Governor’s plan to expand broadband grant program.
  • Ethanol Expansion (SF481/HSB185) — Governor’s plan to expand ethanol.

Bills that died in the funnel:

  • School Vouchers (SF159) — provides state-funded “student first” scholarships to private-school families.
  • Compensation of Student Athletes (SF245) — authorizes student-athletes to profit from the use of their name, image, and likeness.
  • Vaccine Requirement (SF555) — bars employers from requiring Covid-19 vaccinations.
  • University Tenure (HF490/SF41) — ends faculty tenure at regent universities.
  • Defunding the Police (SF479) — reduces state funds for cities/counties that “defund” the police.
  • Discharge of a Sentence (HF818)/Felon Voting Rights amendment (HJR11) — defines when a sentence is discharged and voting rights can be restored/restores rights for eligible felons.
  • Executive Order Override (HF815) — allows override of a presidential executive order.
  • Mental Health Telehealth (HF294) — requires mental health insurance parity for telehealth services.
  • Childcare Reimbursement Rates (HF292)/Dependent Care Tax Credit (HF230) —  expands access to and affordability of child care (GOP priority this session).

Cedar Rapids Gazette journalist Rod Boshart published a summary of bills that are dead and alive. Read his full list on the Gazette’s site.

Executive Branch

Governor Reynolds signed six bills on Friday, April 2, including HF756 Weapons Matters.  To date, the Governor has signed three dozen bills passed by the 89th General Assembly into law.  The Governor made the following statement upon the signing of HF756:

“Today I signed legislation that protects the 2nd Amendment rights of Iowa’s law-abiding citizens while still preventing the sale of firearms to criminals and other dangerous individuals. This law also takes greater steps to inform law enforcement about an individual’s mental illness helping ensure firearms don’t end up in the wrong hands. We will never be able to outlaw or prevent every single bad actor from getting a gun, but what we can do is ensure law-abiding citizens have full access to their constitutional rights while keeping Iowans safe.”

Federal

Rita Hart ended her contest to Iowa’s Second Congressional District election.  Rita Hart, a former State Senator, lost to U.S. Representative Miller-Meeks by six votes; Hart contended that 22 additional ballots should have been counted.  Miller-Meeks has been seated and representing the Second Congressional District of Iowa since January. 

BillBill TitleDate PassedGovernor SignatureEffective
SF160A bill for an act relating to temporary in-person and remote learning instruction and instructional time requirements for school districts and accredited nonpublic schools and including effective date provisions. (Formerly SSB1064)1/28/20211/29/20211/29/2021
SF269A bill for an act relating to public school funding by establishing the state percent of growth and the categorical state percent of growth for the budget year beginning July 1, 2021, modifying provisions relating to the regular program state cost per pupil, modifying provisions relating to the property tax replacement payment and the transportation equity payments, and including effective date provisions. (Formerly SSB1159)2/17/20212/23/20212/23/2021
SF284A bill for an act relating to financial and regulatory matters by making appropriations for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020 and including effective date provisions. (Formerly SSB1162)2/18/20212/23/20212/23/2021
HF200A bill for an act relating to the military code and duty performed by a member of the United States coast guard. (Formerly HSB43)2/3/20213/8/20217/1/2021
HF231A bill for an act relating to a special sentence for sexual abuse committed during a burglary. (Formerly HSB18)2/17/20213/8/20217/1/2021
HF232A bill for an act relating to the crime of disorderly conduct and making penalties applicable. (Formerly HSB29)2/9/20213/8/20217/1/2021
HF235A bill for an act relating to service charges on consumer credit transactions. (Formerly HSB69)2/9/20213/8/20217/1/2021
HF283A bill for an act creating the criminal offense of defrauding a drug or alcohol test and providing penalties. (Formerly HSB22)2/17/20213/8/20217/1/2021
HF308A bill for an act relating to eligibility requirements for students under the senior year plus program and including effective date and applicability provisions. (Formerly HSB110)2/23/20213/8/20213/8/2021
HF386A bill for an act striking certain reporting requirements related to nonprofit school organizations established by school districts. (Formerly HSB107)2/17/20213/8/20217/1/2021
HF418A bill for an act relating to property tax levies, exemptions, classifications, assessment limitations, and administration, and including effective date and applicability provisions. (Formerly HSB93)2/23/20213/8/20211/1/2022
SF130A bill for an act relating to a temporary exception to a limitation on compensation for a member of a board of directors of a school corporation and including effective date provisions. (Formerly SSB1041)2/17/20213/8/20213/8/2021
SF173A bill for an act relating to trusts, including requirements for certifications of trust and the general order of abatement. (Formerly SSB1012)2/16/20213/8/20217/1/2021
SF231A bill for an act regarding driving privileges of persons issued a special minor’s driver’s license and making penalties applicable. (Formerly SF79)2/16/20213/8/20217/1/2021
SF239A bill for an act relating to proper parties in causes of actions following the death of persons entitled or liable to such causes of actions and including applicability provisions. (Formerly SSB1009)2/16/20213/8/20217/1/2021
SF240A bill for an act relating to the creation, administration, and termination of custodial trusts. (Formerly SSB1016)2/10/20213/8/20217/1/2021
SF285A bill for an act relating to suspension of a student’s participation in the all Iowa opportunity scholarship program. (Formerly SSB1068)2/17/20213/8/20217/1/2021
SF314A bill for an act relating to approval of executive branch employee travel claims. (Formerly SSB1119)2/23/20213/8/20217/1/2021
SF343A bill for an act relating to authorized access to certain confidential records by employees of the department of corrections, a judicial district department of correctional services, and the board of parole. (Formerly SSB1102)2/17/20213/8/20217/1/2021
SF413A bill for an act relating to the conduct of elections, including absentee ballots and voter list maintenance activities, making penalties applicable, and including effective date and applicability provisions. (Formerly SSB1199)2/24/20213/8/20213/8/2021 *Applicability date: 1/1/22
HF560A bill for an act relating to financial assurance instruments and surety bonds required for collecting, processing, or transporting waste tires, and making penalties applicable. (Formerly HSB177)3/10/20213/22/20217/1/2021
SF129A bill for an act relating to specialty areas, service commitment area distance requirements, and practice-related requirements under the rural Iowa primary care loan repayment program. (Formerly SSB1042)2/16/20213/22/20217/1/2021
SF232A bill for an act relating to notice and reclamation requirements for abandoned vehicles taken into custody by a police authority or private entity. (Formerly SSB1025)3/9/20213/22/20217/1/2021
SF235A bill for an act relating to the denial and contest of probate claims. (Formerly SSB1037)3/8/20213/22/20217/1/2021
SF261A bill for an act authorizing the college student aid commission to organize a nonprofit corporation. (Formerly SSB1069)3/8/20213/22/20217/1/2021
SF289A bill for an act relating to the powers and duties of the boards of directors of area education agencies, school districts, and school corporations, and to the election of a director as school board president. (Formerly SSB1133)3/9/20213/22/20217/1/2021
SF307A bill for an act relating to the examination and transportation of dead bodies, including associated fees and costs. (Formerly SF106)3/8/20213/22/20217/1/2021
SF353A bill for an act relating to drainage and levee districts, by providing for notices to interested persons including landowners in the district, and for repairs that require a report by an engineer or soil and water conservation district conservationist. (Formerly SSB1180)3/9/20213/22/20217/1/2021
SF482A bill for an act regulating the application of pesticides, including by providing for the certification of applicators, and certain actions taken by the department of agriculture and land stewardship against private applicators, and providing penalties. (Formerly SSB1214)3/10/20213/22/20217/1/2021
HF280A bill for an act authorizing the department of transportation to renew certain valid commercial driver’s licenses without examination, including by electronic renewal, and including effective date provisions. (Formerly HSB99)3/29/20214/2/20214/2/2021
HF382A bill for an act authorizing the department of transportation to issue special permits allowing the transportation of loads of relief supplies that exceed statutory weight limits during periods of national emergency. (Formerly HSB100)3/29/20214/2/20217/1/2021
HF389A bill for an act relating to chauffeurs and exempting certain persons from the requirement to be licensed as a chauffeur. (Formerly HSB83)3/22/20214/2/20217/1/2021
HF621A bill for an act establishing which actions may be brought against firearm, firearm accessory, and ammunition manufacturers, distributors, importers, trade associations, sellers, or dealers. (Formerly HSB116)3/22/20214/2/20217/1/2021
HF756A bill for an act relating to the acquisition and possession of weapons and providing penalties. (Formerly HSB254)3/22/20214/2/20217/1/2021
SF230A bill for an act relating to wrecked or salvage motor vehicles. (Formerly SSB1028)2/16/20214/2/20217/1/2021

Iowa 2021 Legislative Report – Week 11

The eleventh week brought a steady bustle around the Capitol as we head into the next important legislative deadline, the second and final funnel ends on Friday, April 2.  In order for bills to continue to be considered by the legislature, they must be passed by one chamber and advanced through committee in the opposite chamber.  Bills that have not had this success are effectively “dead” and cannot be considered for the remainder of the legislative session.

There are two exceptions:

  1. Ways and Means bills are funnel-proof and are eligible for consideration the entirety of a legislative session.
  2. Any language can reappear as an amendment to another bill or be included in an appropriations bill.  Meaning everything is fair game until sine die. Typically, the second funnel signals narrowing of the policy discussion and rings in the appropriations phase of the legislative session.

2021 Session Deadlines

2021 Session Deadlines

Appropriations

The REC’s budget estimates for FY 2021 and FY 2022 were released Friday, March 19. The REC increased the estimate for FY 2021 (from the December estimate) by about $109 million, from $7.969 billion to $8.078 billion, about a 1.9% increase.

Within one week of receiving the REC budget estimates, on Wednesday, March 24, the Senate Republicans released their budget targets.  Budget targets provide an overview of overall estimated spending and a rough outline for how those monies will be spent among budget categories.  Their total budget for FY2022 is $7.999 billion ($195 million increase from FY2021) and represents about 94% of available revenue.  The proposed targets account for the elimination of the triggers in the 2018 tax bill, effective January 1, 2023, and the phasing out of the inheritance tax (both are included in SF576), and significant property tax relief (as provided in SSB1253).

Tax relief provisions in Senate Republican budget targets include eliminating the:

  • Revenue triggers in the 2018 tax cut
  • Mental health levy on property taxes
  • Inheritance tax

Overview of FY 2022 increases in Senate Republican budget targets:

  • Education funding increases over $80 million including:
    • $55.3 million for K-12 education
    • $25 million for higher education including additional dollars for Last Dollar Scholarships
  • Healthcare funding increases of $98.1 million including:
    • $15 million for provider increases for nursing homes and home and community-based service providers
    • $60 million for mental health services. Over the next two years, the state will provide over $125 million for mental health services
  • Public safety funding increases of $13 million including:
    • $5 million for the Department of Public Safety
    • Just over $4 million for the Department of Corrections

Note: One-time expenditures for broadband are not included in the Senate Republican budget targets.

Significant Floor Action

On Monday, March 22, the Senate approved the Weapons Omnibus bill (HF756) on a party line vote.  This bill was approved by the House last week and the Senate substituted their version of the bill for the amended House bill.  The bill strikes permit requirements to acquire or carry a handgun and repeals current background check measures that are required for all gun sales (specifically private gun sales that are made outside of a federally licensed dealer).  After it is enrolled by House and Senate leadership, the bill goes to the Governor for her consideration.

Wednesday, March 24 was a late night in the House, with representatives approving 10 bills and one resolution before adjourning just before 1:00 a.m. Thursday.

The House approved HJR11 Felony Voting Amendment unanimously and HF818 Discharge of a Sentence on a 67-28 vote.  In the 2020 session, the House approved a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to felons; the Senate Judiciary approved the proposed amendment, but it did not reach the Senate floor.  In the 2020 interim, Governor Reynolds signed an Executive Order restoring voting rights of felons who have completed their sentence.  The Governor has since called upon the legislature to take legislative action to approve a constitutional amendment that will confer these rights constitutionally.

The Discharge of a Sentence bill (HF818) defines when a sentence is discharged and voting rights can be restored; this bill was approved by both chambers and signed by the Governor in 2020, but the measure included a repeal of the provision if the felon voting amendment was not approved (which it was not).  This bill contains the same language from 2020, requiring restitution to victims be paid before a felon can regain the right to vote.

The House debated HF813 Charter Schools for around six hours on Wednesday into Thursday before the bill passed on a 55-40 vote.  The bill had to be referred back to the Appropriations Committee during the debate for the committee to consider a bill that creates a standing appropriation for charter schools.  When the House returned, the majority voted to adopt a time certain, which ended the debate on many of the proposed amendments.  The bill establishes new provisions on charter schools, allowing the establishment of a charter school by founding groups under a school board, or under the State Board of Education.  Additionally, the bill:

  • Requires that performance evaluation measures, compensation, and dispute resolution methods for staff and the educational provider, if the group wants to use an educational provider, be in the plan put before the Board of Education.
  • Requires the majority of a founding group to live in the geographic area.
  • Includes funding provisions on payments from school districts of state funds for students who enroll in the charter school and payments by the state for students previously home-schooled.
  • Makes a standing appropriation to cover the state costs.
  • Requires charter schools to be renewed every five years.

Republicans believe the bill encourages innovative methods to give schools the flexibility to improve student learning.  Democrats believe the bill lacks oversight to ensure charter schools are high performing and treating students and staff properly and that the state appropriation is a blank check that does not give the state oversight.

Executive Branch Update

On Tuesday, March 23, a Department of Corrections officer and a nurse were killed by an inmate attack at the Anamosa State Penitentiary. Governor Reynolds released the following statement:

Today, our state grieves the loss of two public servants who were attacked while on duty at the Anamosa State Penitentiary,” said Governor Reynolds. “My prayers and deepest condolences are with their families, friends, and colleagues as they begin to cope with this senseless tragedy. We will exhaust every available resource to deliver justice to those who committed this act and bring a sense of closure and peace to the victims’ families.

Redistricting

Last week, the US Census Bureau announced that they may be able to release updated 2020 census data in August in an old format; this may provide a solution to those states that need census data for redistricting in order to meet constitutional deadlines.  Iowa’s constitutional deadlines require the Legislature to finalize a redistricting map by September 1 and for that map to become law by September 15.  If this timeline cannot be met by the Legislature, it is up to the Iowa Supreme Court to draw a map by December 31.

The Iowa Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission was scheduled to meet on Monday, March 22, via video conference but the meeting was cancelled.

Federal

American Rescue Plan

According to the LSA, Iowa will receive about $4.451 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act with individuals receiving another $3.77 billion in direct stimulus payments. The state is expected to receive:

  • $1.379 billion from the State Fiscal Recovery Fund
  • Local governments are expected to receive about $1.162 billion ($612 million to counties, $335 million to metropolitan areas, and $216 million to other local governments)
  • The state will receive another $152 million for capital projects
  • The remainder of the aid will go to state agencies for assistance in various areas, including:
    • $774.5 million for K-12 schools
    • $365.5 million for colleges
    • $385 million for programs for childcare, pre-school, and toddlers
    • $55 million in LIHEAP funds

State and local governments have broad authority to spend the funds as needed but cannot use the money to reduce taxes, either directly or indirectly, or to make pension payments.

2nd Congressional District

The fate of Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District remains up in the air.  Attorneys for Rita Hart and U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, submitted initial legal briefs to a House panel on Monday.  The House Committee on Administration voted earlier this month along party lines to consider the case and postpone a decision on Miller-Meeks’ motion to dismiss Hart’s election challenge.  Republicans at the State and Federal level have engaged publicly, casting this contest as a partisan power grab.  There is no set deadline for the House to resolve Hart’s election contest.

Iowa 2021 Legislative Report – Week 10

This content was published prior to the combination of Dentons Davis Brown. Learn more about Dentons Davis Brown.

With two weeks until the second funnel, week 10 was dominated by extended floor debates on big-ticket Republican priorities.

  • Rental Vouchers (SF252) prohibits local ordinances that require landlords to accept federal vouchers. Republicans believe the bill is necessary to protect landlords who do not wish to deal with extra paperwork and requirements involved with federal housing vouchers. Democrats believe these ordinances are an important tool in making sure people have access to affordable housing.  The House amended the Senate version of the bill and messaged it back to the Senate; the Senate concurred, and the bill has been messaged to the Governor.  Many believe this bill is afoul to the Governor’s previous proposal on Affordable Housing (HF582/SF295) which deals with the current shortage of affordable homes and are interested to see how the Governor will reconcile the two issues.
  • On Tuesday, March 16, the House passed Racism Training (HF802) 59-38.  The bill establishes rules related to training on racism and sexism in schools and colleges, including prohibiting teaching that Iowa is fundamentally racist or sexist.  Specifically, the bill prohibits teaching divisive concepts and race or sex scapegoating.  A floor amendment opened this beyond schools and colleges and makes the bill applicable to state and local governments as well.  The floor manager of the bill said that teaching that the United States and Iowa are inherently racist is simplistic and ignores the efforts of many Americans and Iowans to fight racism and make the country better. Republicans believe the bill allows for balanced diversity and racial sensitivity training and prevents any training that scapegoats the people of a particular race as inherently racist.  Democrats expressed concern that the bill will chill education on important issues in diversity training in a planned way.
  • The Senate passed Banning Social Media Censorship (SF580) on a 30-17 party line vote on Wednesday, March 17.  The lead sponsor of the bill has been persistent in his efforts to fight what he believes is the monopoly power of large social media and internet companies.  Republicans believe these companies have the power to affect elections and suppress political views, that the big tech companies have more powers than the monopolies of the 19th century, and the federal government should review the necessity to break these monopolies.  Democrats have expressed concern over how the bill will impact economic growth in the state and that even the introduction of this bill hurts Iowa’s efforts to attract new businesses.  The bill prohibits companies from intentionally interfering with the right of Iowans to interact on various internet platforms, prohibits companies found to be in violation from receiving economic incentives, and requires that the AG take court action to enforce the bill.
  • Also on Wednesday, the House passed Weapons Omnibus (HF756) on a 60-37 vote (with one Democrat voting with the majority).  Republicans have continually touted the necessity for “permitless carry,” that Iowans should not need to get permission from the state to exercise their constitutional freedoms.  The floor manager of the bill believes that the increased penalties in HF756 for unauthorized gun sales will lead to more background checks, though the bill strikes the existing state background check provisions.  A lengthy floor debate led to extensive discussion about background checks and permits.  Democrats expressed concern that this bill will repeal background checks on all gun sales (specifically private gun sales that are made outside of a federally licensed dealer) and that permits protect law enforcement officers and are a necessary public safety tool for officers to determine if a person with a gun is allowed to possess one.
  • There was one significant bill that passed with surprising bipartisan support: Inheritance Tax/Tax Triggers (SF576). It is a bill that will remove the “tax triggers” that were put into place when the 2018 tax package was negotiated and signed into law. Those “tax triggers” were guardrails established to ensure that Iowa’s revenues hit a certain number before tax cuts become effective in 2023. In addition to striking the triggers, the bill also phases out Iowa’s Inheritance Tax over four years. The bill passed unanimously (46-0) in the Senate on Wednesday afternoon. The Governor had previously proposed removing the tax triggers and making a number of other tax changes in HSB174 Income Tax Changes (the bill has not moved in the House, but is funnel-proof as it is a Ways and Means bill) calling the triggers unnecessary and stating that their removal will allow the state to be more economically competitive if the changes are made (see more about the tax triggers in the REC section below).

Revenue Estimating Conference

The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met Friday, March 19, and released the budget estimates for FY 2021 and FY 2022.  The REC increased the estimate for FY 2021 (from the December estimate) by about $109 million, from $7.969 billion to $8.078 billion (about a 1.9% increase).  They also significantly increased the FY 2022 estimate (from the December estimate) by about $120 million, from $8.265 billion to $8,385 billion (about a 3.8% increase).

Governor Reynolds issued a statement on the REC projection and the tax triggers that the legislature is considering removing in SF574:

Today’s forecast shows that Iowa’s economy is strong, and we can make it even stronger by ensuring that our historic 2018 tax cuts are fully implemented, giving Iowans certainty that they’ll see more in their paychecks. We can easily do that by removing the unnecessary triggers, which are no longer needed and only stand in the way of our future growth…I was pleased that the Senate voted unanimously to remove these triggers and look forward to signing the final bill making these significant tax cuts a reality for Iowans.

Executive

Last Wednesday, Governor Reynolds signed Executive Order 8 launching a new Child Care Task Force to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the childcare shortage and barrier to work in Iowa. The governor also announced awardees of two childcare grant programs totaling $13,053,372 and contributing to the creation of more than 4,000 new childcare slots across Iowa.

House Republicans have made improving access to childcare a priority and have already passed eight childcare bills, messaging them to the Senate.

  • Child Tax Credits (HF230)
  • Childcare Numbers (HF260)
  • Childcare Reimbursement Rates (HF292)
  • Childcare Matching Grants (HF301)
  • Childcare Phase Out (HF302)
  • Business Childcare (HF370)
  • On-Site Childcare (HF606)
  • Workforce Childcare Credits (HF712)

These bills are currently moving through the Senate with HF230 out of committee (funnel-proof).

Other

Concerns over the US Census Bureau and the delay in the release of census data continue.  At least two states, Ohio and Alabama, have engaged in lawsuits.  Iowa faces similar deadline problems, with constitutional requirements for finalizing redistricting mid-September prior to the anticipated release date of census data at the end of September.

Iowa 2021 Legislative Report – Week 9

This content was published prior to the combination of Dentons Davis Brown. Learn more about Dentons Davis Brown.

With funnel week behind us, both chambers focused their efforts on floor work to move bills past the second funnel (April 2).  Bills that survived this first funnel must now be passed out of the originating chamber and advanced through committee in the opposite chamber in order to continue to be eligible for consideration for the remainder of this legislative session.

The chambers debated just under 100 bills this week, messaging 89 bills to the opposite chamber (62 to the Senate and 27 to the House) and 8 bills to the Governor.  While the majority of the debate calendars in both chambers were filled with non-contentious bills, a few bills led to lengthy floor debate this week.

The Senate considered a few policing bills this week, a response to the events and movement that unfolded last summer.  Earlier this session, Governor Reynolds introduced a criminal justice reform bill that included provisions on both “Back the Blue” and racial profiling. Senate Republicans included some of her proposals in the bills considered this week but did not include any provisions related to racial profiling. Under consideration:

  • Qualified Police Immunity SF476 (as amended):
    • Division I:  Establishes that all law enforcement officers have qualified immunity except when a constitutional right being violated is clearly established.
    • Division II:  Establishes a law enforcement officer bill of rights; includes notice requirements, rights to counsel, requirements for information on complaints, and other matters.
    • Division III:  Includes provisions on rejecting fraudulent financing statements under the UCC.
    • Division IV:  Establishes protected information for officers and protections for peer support communications.
  • Reducing Police Funding (SF479)
    • Requires local governments to justify any cuts to law enforcement funding or face cuts in state funding.
    • The Senate passed the bill on a 41-7 vote on Wednesday with seven Democrats voting against the bill.
  • Police/Rioting Proposals (SF534)
    • Increases penalties for existing crimes and enacts new crimes related to unlawful assembly.
    • Gives a person driving a car immunity against claims for injuries from a person who is participating in a demonstration or disorderly conduct and is blocking traffic.
    • The Senate approved the bill on a 31-17 party-line vote.

A different bill related to municipal law enforcement, the “411 Disability Bill” (HF797) was considered and passed in the House on Thursday.  A version of the 411 bill was passed by the House last year and failed to move in the Senate due to the pandemic-shortened session.  The manager of the bill Rep. Kaufmann has been persistent in his efforts to pass this bill, stating that this is an issue of equity and ensuring that local fire and police members of the 411 system are treated fairly.

Executive Branch

On Friday, March 4, Governor Reynolds signed a new Disaster Emergency proclamation to extend regulatory relief until April 4.  Though the Governor has relaxed a number of remedial measures (e.g. lifting the limited mask requirement) she continues to urge Iowans to take reasonable health precautions due to COVID.

Governor signed seventeen bills into law on Monday, including SF413 the Election Reform bill.  Governor Reynolds released this statement on the signing of SF413:

It’s our duty and responsibility to protect the integrity of every election. This legislation strengthens uniformity by providing Iowa’s election officials with consistent parameters for Election Day, absentee voting, database maintenance, as well as a clear appeals process for local county auditors. All of these additional steps promote more transparency and accountability, giving Iowans even greater confidence to cast their ballot.

Bills Signed

Bill Description Date Signed by Governor Reynolds
SF 160 Act relating to temporary in-person and remote teaming instruction and instructional time requirements for school districts and accredited nonpublic schools and including effective date provisions. 1/29/2021
SF 269 Act relating to public school funding by establishing the state percent of growth and the categorical state percent of growth for the budget year beginning July 1, 2021. 2/23/2021
SF 284 Act relating to financial and regulatory matters by making supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020. 2/23/2021
SF 130 An act relating to a temporary exception to a limitation compensation for a member of a board of directors of a school corporation and including effective date provisions. 3/8/2021
SF 173 An act relating to trusts, including requirements for certifications of trust and the general order of abatement. 3/8/2021
SF 231 An act regarding driving privileges of persons issued a special minor’s driver’s license and making penalties applicable. 3/8/2021
SF 239 An act relating to proper parties in causes of actions following the death of persons entitled or liable to such causes of actions and including applicability provisions. 3/8/2021
SF 240 An act relating to the creation, administration, and termination of custodial trusts. 3/8/2021
SF 285 An act relating to suspension of a student’s participation in the All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship program. 3/8/2021
SF 314 An act relating to approval of executive branch employee travel claims. 3/8/2021
SF 343 An act relating to authorized access to certain confidential records by employees of the Department of Corrections, a judicial district Department of Correctional Services, and the Board of Parole. 3/8/2021
SF 413 An act relating to the conduct of elections, including absentee ballots and voter list maintenance activities, making penalties applicative, including effective date and applicability provisions. 3/8/2021
HF 200 Act relating to the military code and duty performed by a member of the United States Coast Guard. 3/8/2021
HF 231 Act relating to a special sentence for sexual abuse committed during a burglary. 3/8/2021
HF 232 An act relating to the crime of disorderly conduct and making penalties applicable. 3/8/2021
HF 235 An act relating to service charges on consumer credit transactions. 3/8/2021
HF 283 An act creating the criminal offense of defrauding a drug or alcohol test and providing penalties. 3/8/2021
HF 308 An act relating to eligibility requirements for students under the senior year plus program and including effective date and applicability provisions. 3/8/2021
HF 386 An act striking certain reporting requirements related to non-profit school organizations established by school districts. 3/8/2021
HF 418 An act relating to property tax levies, exemptions, classifications, assessment limitations, and administration, and including effective date and applicability provisions. 3/8/2021

Federal Update

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) was passed by Congress and signed by President Biden on March 11. Our colleagues at Dentons in Washington D.C. have this summary of the ARP:

Senate Democrats passed the ARP bill after a more than 24-hour voting session that included the longest single vote in the chamber’s history. The plan includes a wave of new spending, an extension of jobless benefits, another round of direct household payments, money for state and local governments and an expansion of vaccinations and virus-testing programs including a national vaccine distribution program for all residents regardless of immigration status.

What’s in the bill?

The legislation will send a third round of stimulus payments — this time at $1,400 per eligible individual. Singles earning up to $75,000 will get the full amount, with the payments phasing out completely by $80,000 in income. Couples making up to $150,000 will get $2,800 — $1,400 per person — with the payments declining at higher incomes and zeroing out altogether at $160,000. Children and adult dependents in those households are also eligible for $1,400 payments.

It expands tax credits for low- and middle-income families and makes them refundable for 2021. It also expands the child tax credit to $3,000 from $2,000 for each child aged 6-17. Children 5 and younger would be eligible for $3,600. The tax credits will be sent to households monthly starting in July.  The bill also includes $25 billion for a stabilization fund to help open child-care centers and $15 billion in grants to support essential workers in meeting childcare costs.

It extends the weekly federal unemployment benefit of $300 a week through September 6, it also includes tax relief on the first $10,200 in unemployment payments for workers in households earning up to $150,000 a year. A late addition to the legislation covers 100% of the costs of continuing health insurance through September for laid-off workers.

Our colleague, Susan Freed, prepared an overview of the bill’s provisions relating to COBRA premium subsidies and what it means for Iowa employers.

The legislation also includes:

  • $160 billion for vaccine and testing programs
  • $360 billion in aid for state, local and territorial governments, including $10 billion that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer added in the final moments before the bill passed
  • Other last-minute additions of $10 billion for critical infrastructure, including broadband internet, and $8.5 billion for rural hospitals
  • $170 billion to help schools open
  • $14 billion for eligible airlines and $1 billion for contractors to the air carriers to extend a payroll support program set to run out on March 31
  • $25 billion to help restaurants struggling from pandemic lockdowns and closures and $1.25 billion for venue operators
  • $15 billion for targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loans and an additional $7.25 billion for forgivable loans in the Paycheck Protection Program

What’s not in the bill?

$15.00 minimum wage

American Rescue Plan Summaries

Senate Democrats have prepared summaries of many of the bill’s key provisions.

The U.S. House Administration Committee voted (6-3) to postpone a decision on a motion from U.S. Representative Miller-Meeks to dismiss a challenge by Rita Hart on the election results for the 2nd Congressional District of Iowa.  Hart continues to contest the election, stating that legally-cast votes were not counted; Republicans believe the House should not hear the contest because Hart did not exhaust all of her remedies under state law before taking action in Congress.

Other

On Tuesday, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) filed suit against Iowa Secretary of State Pate and Iowa Attorney General Miller challenging SF 413. The LULAC declared that much of the bill is unconstitutional and requested injunctive relief.

Iowa 2021 Legislative Report – Week 8

This content was published prior to the combination of Dentons Davis Brown. Learn more about Dentons Davis Brown.

As this was the first funnel week of the 2021 legislative session, both chambers focused their efforts on committee work.  Despite already passing a massive number of bills through committee in the first seven weeks of the legislative session, the legislature moved an impressive 149 bills out of committee this week.  Those bills are now considered “funnel proof” and are eligible for further consideration this legislative session.  Bills that did not make it out of a committee in either the House or the Senate are effectively “dead” and cannot be considered for the remainder of the legislative session.  Two caveats:  1. Ways and Means bills are funnel proof and are eligible for consideration the entirety of a legislative session. 2. Any language can reappear as an amendment to another bill or be included in an appropriations bill.  Meaning–everything is fair game until sine die.

Paycheck Protection Deductions Bill

The House debated one bill this week on Wednesday due to the time-sensitive nature of the bill, SF364 the Paycheck Protection Deductions bill.  The bill was passed by the Senate and the House added language that provides $115 million in tax relief related to the COVID pandemic:

  • $90 million of the $115 million will be offset by a transfer to the General Fund from the Taxpayer Trust Fund
  • $25 million will come out of the ending balance
  • Transfers another $12.8 million from the Taxpayer Trust Fund to cover the impacts on FY2022 for those costs
  • The pandemic unemployment exemption in the bill has a $100 million impact
  • The remaining reductions are from COVID grants and the Federal Paycheck Protection program

Dead or Alive?

Cedar Rapids Gazette journalist Rod Boshart published a summary of bills that are dead and alive. Read his full list on the Gazette’s site. Included below are bills most interesting to Iowa businesses.

Bills that are still alive and eligible for consideration in 2021

  • Increase state K-12 education funding by $36.5 million next fiscal year (SF269)
  • K-12 schools must offer in-person classroom instruction option (SF160)
  • Provide state-funded “students first” scholarships for children attending private schools (SF159)
  • Remove permit requirement, enacting “constitutional carry” gun laws (HSB254/SF535)
  • Prohibit contracts with or incentives to tech companies that censor online content (SF402/HF633)
  • Amend Iowa Constitution to say there is no right to abortion (SJR2)
  • Eliminate state funds for municipalities that “defund” police (SF479)
  • Bar employers from requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 (SF193)
  • Expand broadband grant program (SF390)
  • Expand affordable housing options (SSB1142/HF178)
  • Amend Iowa Constitution with gun rights statement (SJR7)
  • Change election laws relating to early and absentee voting (SF413)

Bills that are “dead”

  • Reinstate the death penalty for certain crimes against minors (kidnapping, sexual abuse offenses, or murder) (SSB1004)
  • Eliminate Iowa income tax and raise state sales tax to 11 percent (SF149)
  • Establish a COVID-19 oversight committee to review government expenditures (HF689)
  • Provide “religious freedom” protections for businesses (SF436)
  • Allow parents of elementary students to opt out of gender identity instruction (SF167)
  • Implement 1-year hold on certain Iowa Supreme Court decisions to allow legislative oversight (HF109)
  • Ban law enforcement from racial profiling (HF130/HF356)
  • Prohibit public colleges/universities from mandating face masks and eliminate Iowa tuition grant funds for private schools that do mandate (HSB162)
  • Raise state cigarette tax by 50 cents to $1.86 per pack (HF733)
  • Lower some penalties associated with marijuana possession (HF163)
  • Require nursing homes to allow visitors even in health emergency (HF571)
  • Remove gender identity as protected class under Iowa Civil Rights Act (HF272)
  • Require transgender individuals to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate in elementary and secondary schools (SF224)

Executive Update

Governor Reynolds announced she is joining with 22 other governors to oppose the new standard in President Biden’s stimulus bill for how federal funds would be allocated to states.

Governor Reynolds received her COVID vaccination during her news conference on Wednesday.

Iowa 2021 Legislative Report – Week 7

This content was published prior to the combination of Dentons Davis Brown. Learn more about Dentons Davis Brown.

As of the end of week six, the legislature had passed more than 1,500 bills out of committee.  Week seven saw even more committee action, and legislators continue to advance bills in an effort to meet the upcoming funnel deadline, Friday, March 5. Bills that do not advance through one committee by the first funnel are no longer eligible for consideration this session.  Floor action is likely to be limited next week with a heavy focus on moving last-minute bills out through the committee process. 

Election Reform

The focus of this week in both chambers was advancing the election reform bills.  Identical bills (SF413 and HF590) were introduced last week and moved very quickly through the House and Senate committee process to ensure they were both ready for floor action this week. 

The House held a public hearing on HF590 on Monday, February 22.  Opponents of the bill said the changes are not needed to protect voting and many referenced the successful 2020 election, in which Iowa saw record turnout.  Many concerns were expressed about reductions in early voting periods and that the changes to the absentee ballot procedures will make it more difficult for people to cast absentee ballots. 

The floor managers of the bill have stated at the hearing that the state needs uniform procedures to encourage confidence in Iowa voting and that the restrictions in the bill are not overly burdensome and will protect voting in Iowa.

The Senate passed SF413 on a 30-16 party-line vote on Tuesday, February 23, after several hours of debate, and sent the bill over to the House.  The House took up SF413 (substituting HF590 for SF413) and also passed the bill on a 57-37 party-line vote after a lengthy five-hour debate.  The bill was immediately messaged to the Governor and awaits her signature.

Main provisions of the bill include:

  • Prohibiting county auditors from sending applications for absentee ballots without receiving a request first
  • Prohibiting county auditors from sending applications with pre-filled information
  • Reducing the period to request an absentee ballot from 120 days to 70 days
  • Reducing the period for early in-person voting and absentee voting from 29 days to 18 days
  • Limiting counties to one drop off ballot box site
  • Limiting who can drop off a completed absentee ballot for a voter
  • Penalties for election misconduct (including felony charges for auditors)

Executive Branch

As of this week, the Governor has signed three bills into law:

Bill

Details

Date Signed

SF 160

Supplemental State Aid (SSA) bill that sets the SSA at 2.4% (increase state aid to schools by $36.5 million).

1/29/2021

SF 269

Makes a supplemental appropriation in FY 2021 of $21 million to the CIO to pay for Workday Central, the personnel, accounting, and budgeting system.

2/23/2021

SF 284

Makes appropriations for the fiscal year and includes effective date provisions.

2/23/2021


Other Updates

Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack was confirmed to a second term as the Secretary of the USDA on a 92-7 vote.  Vilsack previously served as the Secretary of the USDA during the Obama administration.

COVID Update

According to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard, 626,947 doses have been administered to Iowa residents (which represents about 20% of Iowans) and 155,382 individuals have completed the COVID-19 vaccine series.  The Governor announced on Thursday, February 25, that they anticipate moving into the next phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout by early April. 

The state has added a new tool to the COVID-19 website to help make COVID-19 vaccine provider information more accessible to Iowans.

Iowa 2021 Legislative Report – Week 6

This content was published prior to the combination of Dentons Davis Brown. Learn more about Dentons Davis Brown.

The highlight of this week in Iowa and around the country remains Mother Nature and the unprecedented weather cycle causing major disruptions in the power grid. Here in Iowa, temperatures spent much of the week below zero, which caused a slow start to the week at the legislature. Pace and temperatures picked up progressively throughout the week. At least a dozen bills were sent to the Governor this week for her review and signature.

The next legislative deadline is Friday, March 5 – the first funnel.  With only two weeks left, the urgency to get bills through at least one committee continues to build. Bills that do not advance through one committee by the first funnel are no longer eligible for consideration this session and are otherwise “dead.”

Weather-Related Governor Proclamation

On Monday, February 15, the Governor signed a proclamation to ease rules for hauling diesel fuel, propane, natural gas, and other fuels used in agriculture and commercial heating.  The proclamation temporarily suspends limits on hours of service and oversize and overweight loads of fuel.  The proclamation was issued due to the demand created by hazardous cold in the Midwest and across the country.

Legislative Update

Supplmental State Aid (SSA)

Late last week, the House approved the SSA bill (SF269) sent over by the Senate last week but amended the bill to set the SSA at 2.4% (the original Senate version set the SSA at 2.2%).   On Wednesday, February 17, the Senate concurred with the House amendment setting the SSA at 2.4%.  This amendment will increase state aid to schools by about $36.5 million.

Broadband Grants

The Senate Commerce Committee approved the Governor’s Broadband Grant bill (SSB1089), which would assist in the expansion of broadband access across Iowa.  Governor Reynolds has proposed $450 million over three years to pay for the expansion.

Rental Vouchers

On Wednesday, February 17, the Senate also approved Rental Vouchers (SF252) on a party-line vote.  The bill prohibits cities and counties from adopting ordinances that prohibit landlords from refusing to accept federal housing vouchers.  This bill comes amid conversations about how to increase affordable housing, including the Governor’s Affordable Housing proposal.

Election Reform

Identical versions of election reform (SF 413 and HF 519) moved very quickly through Senate and House subcommittees and committees ensuring that both are ready for floor action next week and plans to have a bill to the Governor for her signature by the end of the week.  Republican chairs of both the Senate and House State Government Committees are coordinating closely to ensure that the bill will keep moving through the legislative process.  

According to proponents, this legislation is necessary to protect the electoral process from fraud and deceptive practices that happened in 2020.  Opponents question the need for such legislation and argue that it will result in voter suppression.  A public hearing is scheduled for Monday, February 22, evening to give the public another opportunity to weigh in.

Redistricting

The U.S. Census Bureau has announced there will be a delay in the release of census information to the states due to COVID-19.  Most recently, the Bureau announced that it expects to deliver redistricting data to all states and the public by September 30, 2021.  The redistricting process in Iowa is driven by a constitutional timeline that requires approval of a redistricting map by September 15.  Legislators in Iowa were already anticipating a special session to approve a redistricting map.  With the recently announced delays, legislative leadership will now have to consider how to best move forward to reconcile the situation. 

Despite delays from the Bureau, lawmakers are starting to move forward with the redistricting process; on Monday, leaders of each caucus appointed a member to the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission (two Republicans and two Democrats).  This group will then elect a fifth member that will serve as the chairperson.

  • Republicans appointed Chris Hagenow, Vice-President of Iowans for Tax Relief and a former House Majority Leader, as well as David Roederer, who recently retired as director of the state’s Office of Management.
  • Democrats named Deidre DeJear, a 2018 candidate for Iowa Secretary of State, and Ian Russell, an attorney from Bettendorf.

Once the Bureau delivers population data to the states and the state Legislative Services Agency drafts the first round of proposed maps, the committee will be tasked with holding at least three public hearings across the state and submitting a report to the Legislature.  Constitutionally, the Legislature is required to approve a plan for legislative redistricting and send it to the Governor by September 1, and it must be enacted by September 15.  If those deadlines are not met, the Iowa Supreme Court is directed to weigh in and draw the maps by December 31. 

COVID Update

In a retraction from statements last week, Governor Reynolds has said that the state has decided not to use Microsoft as a statewide scheduling app for COVID vaccinations.

According to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard, 529,445 doses have been administered to Iowa residents and 131,500 individuals have completed the COVID-19 vaccine series.

Iowa 2021 Legislative Report – Week 5

This content was published prior to the combination of Dentons Davis Brown. Learn more about Dentons Davis Brown.

Week 5 at the Iowa legislature brought a lot of action both in committee and in each chamber.  Dozens of bills passed out of House and Senate committees each day this week, which is a much faster pace than any recent session.  Additionally, the chambers completed a solid amount of floor work, clearing debate calendars of mostly noncontroversial legislation that passed unanimously.  Bills have been messaged from one chamber to the other and a few have already made their way to the Governor.  The pace cannot be understated.  All of this happening while new bills are still being drafted and introduced.  Friday, February 12 is the final day for individual senator and representative requests for bill and joint resolution drafts.

Legislative Update

Senator Dickey from Senate District 41 was sworn-in on Monday after the results of the canvassing board were certified.  Republicans now return to a 32-18 advantage.  The new senator was named Vice-Chair of the Transportation committee and named to the Labor and Ways and Means Committees.

Education Funding

The Senate made quick work of the Supplemental State Aid bill (SF269) which sets education funding. The bill moved through subcommittee and the full Education and Appropriations committees on Monday, February 8.  On Tuesday, the bill was called up on the floor and after a lively debate, passed 32-17, with one Democrat Senator voting with the Republicans.  The bill sets the state growth rate (SSA) and the categorical funding rate for schools at 2.2% for the 2021-2022 school year and creates a new $65 per-pupil qualified instruction supplement, which is based on the number of in-person school days schools held this past school year. 

Amendments from the Democrats addressed concerns that 140 school districts will receive less in state funding under this calculation and property taxes will need to increase to make up the difference. Democrats also believe the qualified supplement punishes Des Moines students because of the dispute over returning to in-person learning during COVID. 

The House has their own SSA bill (HF439) which sets the rate at 2.5%. The House SSA rate is higher than the Senate rate and uses a different formula to distribute $30 million in a qualified supplement to schools. HF439 was approved by the House Education Committee earlier this week.

Childcare

The House passed six childcare bills with largely unanimous support on Wednesday, February 10.

  • Child Tax Credits HF230
  • Childcare Numbers HF260
  • Childcare Reimbursement Rates HF292
  • Childcare Matching Grants HF301
  • Childcare Phase Out HF302
  • Business Childcare HF370

The bills will expand eligibility for childcare credits, increase the number of children allowed in a childcare home, increase reimbursement rates, establish grants to increase wages for childcare workers, establish a phase-out for parents whose income has increased, and give credit to employers who build childcare facilities at work.  These bills have been identified by all parties and the Governor as a priority this session.

Supplemental Funding

The Senate debated a Supplemental Appropriation bill (SF284) that makes a supplemental appropriation in FY 2021 of $21 million to the CIO to pay for the Workday central personnel, accounting, and budgeting system. The appropriation is needed to pay for the system after it was determined that Federal CARES money could not be used to pay for it. 

Executive Branch Update

Economic Recovery Advisory Board Final Report

Governor Reynolds’ Economic Recovery Advisory Board issued recommendations on steps the state should take to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The entire report was published last week.  Recommendations include the following legislative actions for the current and upcoming legislative sessions:

  • Expanding access to childcare and lowering costs for families
  • Expanding access to broadband
  • Creating new housing programs, including programs to prevent eviction and foreclosure
  • Improving health care with better emergency responses and more health care providers and telehealth
  • Improving education with more work-based learning, school choice, and charter school options

The board is made up of 12 leaders of Iowa companies, the state economist, a chamber of commerce official, and the CEO of the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. The board also made recommendations to improve manufacturing in Iowa, increase bio-manufacturing opportunities, improve water quality in the state, and improve community life.

Housing

On Monday, February 8, the Governor announced new housing funds available for small rural cities (under 20,000 residents).  The Rural Innovation Grant Program allocated $300,000 for innovative ideas on community investment to spur growth and $100,000 for the Rural Housing Assessment Grant Program to help communities analyze hard data and determine how to make changes through development codes, ordinances, and housing incentives in conjunction with Iowa State University Outreach.

The Governor’s housing proposal (SF295/HSB178) is making its way through both the House and Senate.  Both bills moved through the committee process this week; SF295 was approved by the Senate Local Government and Ways and Means Committees and HSB178 moved through subcommittee.  The bill provides a number of incentives to establish affordable housing in Iowa.

COVID-19 Update

Governor Reynolds issued a new Public Health Disaster Proclamation that relaxed public health measures including lifting the limited mask requirement and repealing other COVID-19 mitigation measures for business and social gatherings.  Governor Reynolds stated that while the pandemic is not over, Iowa has seen a decline in the rate of COVID-19 infections since November which is why she lifted the mitigation efforts.

According to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard, 366,109 total doses have been administered to Iowa residents and 99,978 individuals have completed the COVID-19 vaccine series.  The state issued an RFP for a vendor for an appointment scheduling system and selected Microsoft.  Governor Reynolds said in addition to the number of doses increasing, appointments will become easier to schedule due to the new scheduling system.

Judicial Branch Update

State Court Administrator Todd Nuccio is resigning as of April 30, 2021.  Nuccio has been the State Court Administrator since September 2017, replacing David Boyd who served 14 years in the position.