Week 14 was very similar to week 13. Small steps were made toward adjournment, but resolutions on the major outstanding issues remain elusive and the budget process continues to be on hold (except for the Transportation budget, typically the least controversial budget, which was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday). Negotiations continue between leadership and appropriators behind the scenes. There is now less than a week until the 100th day of session, it is unlikely that work will be completed by Tuesday, April 19, when the legislative per diem expires.
Another date to keep in mind is June 7–we are now less than two months away from the June primary. Members with primaries are eager to get back to their districts and begin their campaign efforts.
Legislators have returned home for Easter weekend, but it is expected they will return next week. The schedule is yet to be determined, a lot will depend on negotiations between House and Senate leadership and the Governor. Of note, on the education choice issue, Governor Reynolds indicated that if the legislature could not reach an agreement this year, then she will make this a priority next year. This could be interpreted as an acknowledgment that compromise this year may not be attainable and that progress could begin towards adjournment on the budget and other issues.
Outstanding Legislative Issues
No movement in Week 14.
|HSB672 Referred to Appropriations; Subcommittee recommends passage
HF2498 (Open enrollment) Placed on House unfinished business calendar
HF2577 (Transparency and School Boards) Passed House 60-36 (3/29/2022); Messaged to Senate
Passed Senate 31-18 (3/30/2022); Messaged to House; Read for the first time, referred to Appropriations
No movement in Week 14.
|Gov’s Workforce Bill
|SF2383 Passed Senate 48-0 (4/4/2022); Messaged to Senate; Read for the first time and passed on file
|HF2527 Passed Ways and Means Committee (3/22/2022); Placed on Ways and Means Calendar
No movement in Week 14, however, see the update from President Biden below.
|Renewable Fuels Passed House
|HF2128 Passed House 82-10 (2/2/2022); Messaged to Senate; Referred to Agriculture, committee report recommending passage; Referred to Ways and Means, subcommittee assigned.
|SSB3084 Failed funnel
Bottle Bill Changes
The Bottle Bill appears closer to a major overhaul than any time during its four-decade history. The House approved a compromise bill, amending and passing SF2378 on a bipartisan vote of 73-17. The crux of this bill would allow retailers to opt of redeeming bottles and cans (“containers”) under certain conditions:
- They have a food establishment license, employ a certified food production manager, and use time and temperature controls for food safety. Stores that prepare food on the premises would meet most of these criteria. This would take effect January 2023.
- They have entered into an agreement to have a mobile redemption center on their premises, including providing adequate space, utilities, and an internet connection to operate the redemption center. Mobile redemption centers are automated units, typically contained in trailers. Consumers open an account and are credited for the deposits, typically within 10 days of returning their containers. This would take effect July 1, 2022.
- They are located in counties with 30,000 or more residents and are located within 10 miles of a redemption center or mobile redemption site. This distance is currently in the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) rules.
- They are located in counties with less than 30,000 residents and are located within 15 miles of a redemption center or mobile redemption site.
The bill requires retailers that opt-out to conspicuously post that they do not redeem containers and direct consumers to the nearest redemption center or mobile center. The bill requires the DNR to create an electronic method for locating redemption centers.
Both the House and Senate bills would raise the handling fee received by redemption centers from the current penny to $0.03 per container. Redemption centers that are not part of a retail operation have struggled to survive on the existing handling fee. Beverage distributors, which currently pay the $0.01 handling fee, would have to pay the additional $0.02 to redemption centers. The distributors would continue to keep the nickels for unredeemed containers, which is the current practice. Beer distributors would get a $0.01 credit against their excise tax for each container they redeem.
The bill now goes back to the Senate for further action. The Senate has not agreed to the amended language.
|Bottle Bill Passed Senate
|HF2571 Passed Ways and Means Committee (3/23/2022); Placed on Ways and Means Calendar; Amendments filed
|SF2378 Passed Senate 31-18 (3/29/2022); Messaged to House; Read for the first time and passed on file; Amendments filed
Other issues that continue to linger:
- Tort Reform/Medical Malpractice
- Medical Freedom/COVID-19 Vaccines
- Pharmacy Benefit Manager Issue
Other than the Transportation budget, which received full approval from the Senate Appropriates Committee on Wednesday, April 13, the budget remains at a standstill. The Senate has all of the budget bills; they will need to either amend the budget bills and return them to the House or accept the budget bills and send them down to the Governor for her signature. See table below.
Soil Temperature Update
According to the Iowa State University Iowa Environmental Moisture Network, soil temperatures in the southern tier counties are nearing the 50-degree mark so planting can start in earnest in the southern counties soon. Elsewhere, in the majority of the state, soil temperatures remain stubbornly in the high 30s and low 40s. This week, the Governor issued a proclamation to allow farmers to haul overweight loads of crops, seed, and various inputs without a permit through May 11.
Finkenauer Ballot Issue
A pair of Republicans brought a challenge against U.S. Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer in her efforts to get on the June Democratic primary ballot. Their challenge was initially dismissed by Iowa’s State Objection Panel, but on Sunday of this week, the Polk County District Court overturned the panel’s decision saying it applied the law incorrectly. Fineknauer appealed the District Court decision and the Iowa Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments on Wednesday. The Court had to expedite the appeal, as the Secretary of State needs to print and send ballots for overseas voters by the federal deadline of April 23.
The Iowa Supreme Court issued a ruling today, Friday, April 15, ruling that Finkenauer can appear on the June Democratic primary ballot. Essentially, the Court said that the Iowa law lists some reasons that signatures cannot be counted, but does not list a missing/incorrect date among those reasons. Therefore, the signatures for her candidacy, even those without a date, are allowed to count and are sufficient enough to put Finkenauer on the ballot.
President Biden’s Visit and Announcement
President Biden visited Menlo, Iowa, on Tuesday, April 12, to announce that the federal government will allow the sale of E-15 fuel throughout the year as a hedge against higher fuel prices. Right now, E-15 cannot be used in most of the country from June 1 to September 15, but the EPA will be issuing a national, emergency waiver. Governor Reynolds publicly expressed her support for this decision:
“Thank you to the Biden Administration for this very welcome news. While there is more to be done from the Administration to address high energy and fuel prices, unrestricted access to E15 is a great first step. This action, although temporary, will ensure Iowans continued access to E-15 and higher blends of ethanol. It is critical that the EPA implements this in a way to fully allow E-15 for the entire summer driving season. I will continue to fight for our agriculture and renewable fuels industry because Iowans, and all Americans, deserve less expensive, cleaner-burning fuels.”
Next week brings the 100th day of the legislative session. After April 19, the legislative per diem will expire. It is unclear when the session will adjourn for the year (sine die), but as predicted above, it is very unlikely it will be next Tuesday or even next week. The earliest possible date for sine die adjournment would be next weekend, April 23-24, but there is likely a couple of weeks between now and adjournment. Once there are resolutions on the major issues outlined above, that will unlock final negotiations on the FY 2023 budget, and we will be on our way to adjournment sine die for the 2022 legislative session.
Below, find the complete list of the bills awaiting enrollment/message to the Governor and those bills that have been signed by the Governor this session.
Bills Awaiting Enrollment
Bills Signed by Governor Reynolds