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With the Iowa Caucus nearly upon us, the Iowa Legislature continued an impressive pace in week three of the 2020 legislative session. 213 bills and resolutions were introduced this week, which brings the total number of bills to 545.
Committee work is in full swing in both chambers—this week, over 150 subcommittees were scheduled in the House and the Senate to make recommendations on bill files and study bills. Full committees in both chambers considered a number of bills, passing 37 through committee and to the respective House and Senate calendars.
Bills introduced in 2020 will need to be reported out of committees by February 21 in order to survive the first funnel. We can expect the focus to remain on committee work until that date.
Legislators will take a brief pause on Monday, February 3 to focus on the Iowa Caucuses. Over the next few days, President Trump and the Democratic candidates will descend on Iowa in a final push before the caucuses.
Both the House and the Senate released their education funding plans (School State Aid “SSA”) on Wednesday, January 29.
- House SSA (HSB587) increases state education spending by 2.5% ($100 million).
- Senate SSA (SSB3096) increases state education spending by 2.1% increase ($90 million).
- Governor Reynolds proposed over $103 million in state education spending.
The timing of these bills is significant; SSA is typically one of the first appropriation budgets (that is not a supplement to a previous year) to be legislated. Advancement of these bills in week three is also a good indication of the pace and productivity of this legislative session. Provided the chambers can come to a quick agreement on final numbers ($10 million dollar difference), school boards will have certainty putting their budgets together and we will have bridged an appropriation milestone early in the 100-day session.
Executive Branch update
Flooding—Missouri River Agreement
Governor Kim Reynolds, along with Governor Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Governor Laura Kelly of Kansas, and Governor Mike Parson of Missouri signed an agreement (MOA) on control of flooding on the lower Missouri River. The intention of the MOA is to share information about flooding and actions taken by each state to mitigate flooding and to coordinate those efforts. This MOA requires a biennial report to the Governors of the states on the status of this agreement (the first report is expected by 12/31/2020).
Judicial Branch update
Supreme Court Appointment
Governor Reynolds appointed Dana Oxley to the Iowa Supreme Court on Tuesday, January 28. Oxley will fill the vacancy left by the death of Chief Justice Mark Cady. Oxley practices law at Shuttleworth & Ingersoll in Cedar Rapids and serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Iowa College of Law. Previously, she served as a career law clerk for Judge David Hansen of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. She received her J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law and her undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa.