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This week, the pace of bills being introduced stayed constant from last week, as did subcommittee and committee work. High pace, high volume. Work on high profile issues continues; sports betting is being refined behind the scenes and the Judicial Nominating Commission reform bills continue to make their way through the committee process.
Senator Jeff Danielson To Leave Iowa Senate
Democratic State Senator Jeff Danielson announced Thursday afternoon that he is resigning from the Iowa Senate effective immediately. Danielson was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2005, and when the Democrats were in the majority, he was Senate President Pro Tempore for several years.
Senator Danielson’s resignation means that Governor Reynolds will need to call a special election for Senate District 30 (Cedar Falls area). The rules on Special Elections are as follows: the Governor has five days to schedule the special election, the special election must be at least 18 days after the Governor announces it, and the special election must be on a Tuesday. The winner of the special election will join the legislative session that is currently in progress and will hold the seat until 2020 when s/he will be up for reelection.
Funnel Milestone Reached
This week marked the first step in the process of narrowing down legislation for consideration through the “funnel” process. Friday, February 15 is the final day for individual Senators and Representatives to file bill or joint resolution requests with the Legislative Services Agency. Starting next week, only leadership and committee chairs will be able to file bill requests. However, this does not mean that individually sponsored bills will not continue to be introduced. If already requested and in drafting, but not ready by February 15, bills can still be introduced after the deadline.
The most significant progress of the week was achieved with the passage of the school funding bills: State School Aid (SSA) and Transportation/Per Pupil Equity. The two bills increase SSA by about $90 million, with $78 million in a 2.06% increase in SSA, $19 million for transportation equity, and an increase of $2.9 million for the per-pupil formula. The House passed HF306 (SSA) 53-47 along partisan lines and passed HF307 (Transportation/Per Pupil Equity) 99-1 on Monday night. The Senate passed both bills on Wednesday night (HF306 with a 35-13 vote and HF307 with a 40-0 vote) and sent them to the Governor for her signature.
The next funnel deadline is Friday, March 8 when all House bills will need to have been reported out of House committees and Senate bills out of Senate committees. The policy focus over the next 3 weeks will be on making sure priority bills make it through the funnel or are “funnel proof” by being reported out of at least one committee in at least one chamber.