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.


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.

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Tim R. Coonan

About Tim R. Coonan

Tim Coonan is a lawyer with a fundamental understanding of the legislative process and a proven track record of success, regardless of which party is control. He is Chair of the Dentons Davis Brown Government Relations Department with over 15 years of lobbying experience before the Iowa Legislature and executive branch agencies and nearly 25 years of public policy experience including three years doing policy work in Washington D.C. with Williams and Jensen PLLC.

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Sydney J. Gangestad

About Sydney J. Gangestad

Sydney is an attorney and lobbyist with over seven years of public policy experience. In her various policy roles, she has developed a fundamental understanding of the legislative process and a non-partisan and bi-partisan approach to lobbying to help advance clients’ legislative agendas.

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