Officially into overtime, legislators are now working without receiving per diem and without assistance from their clerks. At the end of week 16, the lack of agreement on the Education Savings Accounts (ESA) issue continues to drive the delayed adjournment. Even though the week seemed relatively quiet, there was significant legislative action Monday and Tuesday on several of the Governor’s priorities. It is hard to tell if this moved the legislature closer to adjournment, but it is progress.
Legislative Action on Major Priorities
This week, the legislature sent four major priority bills down to Governor Reynolds for her signature:
- Renewable Fuels (E-15)
- Unemployment Insurance
- Childcare Reform
Renewable Fuels (E-15)
Creating a renewable fuels program remained a priority for Governor Reynolds in 2022. In the 2021 session, chambers were unable to reconcile their differences; the beginning of this year seemed promising for a compromise. The Governor’s E-15 Program (HF2128) quickly passed in the House in week 5. Until this week, it remained stalled in the Senate.
On Monday, the Senate produced their amendment to (HF2128) and passed the bill through the Senate Ways & Means Committee on a 16-1 vote. The amendment would allow for additional smaller retailers to be exempt from the new E-15 requirements (about one-third of Iowa retailers would qualify).
On Tuesday, the Senate amended (HF2128) and approved the bill 42-3 on the Senate floor; the House then made quick work, calling up the bill and concurring with the Senate amendment, passing (HF2128) with an 81-13 vote. The bill now goes to the Governor for her signature.
After the Tuesday legislative action on the Renewable Fuels bill, the Governor made the following statement:
This is a historic win for Iowa families, for our agriculture and biofuels industry, and for Iowa’s entire economy. By increasing access to more affordable, homegrown biofuels made right here in Iowa, we are lowering the price at the pump and getting America back on track toward energy independence. I am proud that my biofuels legislation will lead to the single greatest expansion of biofuels in our state’s history, while providing our industry with consistency in the face of ever-changing federal policy. I commend the legislature for working with me to advance this bill and I look forward to signing it into law in the coming days.
|Renewable Fuels To Governor||HF2128 Passed House 82-10 (2/2); Messaged to Senate; Referred to Agriculture, committee report recommending passage (2/9); Referred to Ways and Means, subcommittee assigned (2/16). Committee report recommending amendment and passage (4/25). Amended and Passed Senate 42-3 (4/26); Messaged to House. House concurred in Senate Amendment and Passed Housed 81-13 (4/26). Message from House.|
The Governor’s Workforce/Regulatory Omnibus bill which contains several provisions related to work-based learning programs, Health Care Workforce recruitment, and veterans’ benefits, was modified through the Senate committee process – amending provisions regarding zoning and removing an entire Division that would have created a statewide building code – and passed the full Senate unanimously in week 13. This bill was proposed by the Governor to support several of her priorities to increase/support the workforce in Iowa to address our current workforce crisis. The House took up the Senate version of the Governor’s Workforce Omnibus bill on Tuesday, agreeing with their amendment and passing the bill 70-24. It now goes to the Governor for her signature. Provisions in the bill include:
- Changes to county and city inspections regarding manufactured homes
- Improvements to work-based learning programs
- Expansion of Health Care Workforce Recruitment
- Professional licensing of military spouses
- Creation of an armed forces fishing and hunting licenses
- Status of licenses driver’s licenses/fees for driver’s licenses for veterans
- Waiver of parking fees for veterans
- Temporary licenses for insurance producers without examination
|Gov’s Workforce Bill To Governor||SF2383 Passed Senate 48-0 (4/4); Messaged to Senate; Read for the first time and passed on file. Passed House 70-24 (4/26); Message from the House.|
The legislature has continued efforts to make reforms to unemployment benefits. Governor Reynolds made unemployment changes a priority. In her Condition of the State address, she stated that a growing part of the labor shortage in Iowa is because the state is overly generous with unemployment benefits and this has taken away the need or desire to work. (HF2355) reduces the number of weeks unemployed persons can collect benefits to 16 weeks (four months) and lowers the wage requirements for suitable work. The bill was hung up in the House for weeks over a one-week waiting period before receiving unemployment benefits that were included by the Senate after the House passed the bill 58-37. On Tuesday, the Senate finally receded from their one-week waiting period amendment after the House refused to concur; the Senate passed the bill as originally sent over by the House 30-14 on that same day. The bill now goes to the Governor for her signature.
Governor Reynolds issued a statement on the passage of (HF2355):
The success of Iowa’s robust economy is driven by employed Iowans and their hard work ethic. Today the Iowa legislature passed two bills that will help bolster our workforce in Iowa. I’ve worked tirelessly to find ways to reinvigorate our workforce and make it more attractive for recruitment and retention of workers. With more than 85,000 job openings in our state, we cannot afford to leave any employable Iowans on the sidelines. We’ve realigned our state’s workforce agency to serve as a reemployment agency providing more dedicated, one-on-one career coaching, and to make the process for Iowans to reenter the workforce as simple and efficient as possible. We want to ensure that every employable Iowan finds a meaningful and fulfilling job within our state.
House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst also released a statement on the passage of (HF2355):
Iowans are tired of politicians that do the bidding of special interests instead of listening to their constituents. Instead of working to fix Iowa’s workforce shortage crisis, Republican lawmakers passed a bill negotiated behind closed doors with special interests to take away earned unemployment from Iowans who lost a job through no fault of their own. Iowans are strongly opposed to this bill because it is unfair and it will drive more workers out of the state. Democrats believe the Iowa Legislature should focus on rewarding work, raising wages, making childcare affordable, and lowering costs for families.
|Unemployment Reform To Governor||HF2355 Passed House 58-37 (3/23); Message to Senate. Substituted for SF2131. Amended and Passed Senate 30-20 (3/23); Messaged to House. House refused to concur in Senate Amendment (4/26); Messaged to Senate. Senate receded (4/26). Passed Senate 30-14 (4/26). Message from Senate.|
Childcare reform has been a top priority for the Governor and both chambers. Several bills addressing the childcare crisis in Iowa were introduced in the House and the Senate also considered bills related to Age of Childcare Workers and Staffing Ratios. The Staffing Ratio bills (HF2131/SF2268) ultimately died in the funnel; however as it goes at the end of session, no policy provision is dead until sine die.
Last week, the Senate took up (HF2198) the Age of Childcare Worker bill, which would allow a 16-year-old to work/volunteer at a childcare facility without supervision. The Senate amended the bill adding the language from (SF2228) regarding staffing ratio (the bill allows childcare centers to increase child to staff ratios to 1:7 for children under 2 and 1:10 for children 3 and older). The bill passed the Senate as amended 31-18 on April 18. In addition to the flurry of work on Renewable Fuels, Workforce, and Unemployment, on Tuesday the House also took up (HF2198) as amended by the Senate, concurred with the amendment, and approved the bill 30-14. It now goes to the Governor for her signature.
|Childcare Reform To Governor||HF2198 Passed House 55-43 (3/2); Message to Senate. Substituted for SF2131. Amended and Passed Senate 30-18 (4/18); Messaged to House. House concurred in Senate Amendment (4/26); Passed House 52-42 (4/26). Message from House.|
Other issues that continue to linger:
- Bottle Bill
- Tort Reform/Medical Malpractice
- Medical Freedom/Covid-19 Vaccines
- Pharmacy Benefit Manager Issues
Reviewing Priorities for 2022
The legislature has tackled the bulk of the Governor’s Priorities for 2022, including Tax Reform, Childcare Reform, Building Iowa’s Health Care Workforce, and Renewable Fuels. Many of these were priorities shared by the Republican majorities in both chambers which were forecasted as major topics for the 2022 legislative session (see Opening Week of Iowa Session).
Governor’s Priorities for 2022
- Cutting taxes for all Iowans (proposed 4% flat income tax phased in over four years and repealing all state income taxes on retirement income beginning next year)
- Making Iowa an employment destination
- Improving access to childcare
- Building Iowa’s health care workforce
- Preparing students for the workforce
- Providing education choice and transparency for Iowa families
- Growing the fuels of the future in Iowa
Executive Branch Updates
Bills Signed by Governor
On Friday, April 22, the Governor signed 26 bills into law. The Governor has now signed 35 bills into law and has 69 bills awaiting her signature after enrollment by legislative leadership. This puts the potential total of bills and resolutions signed by the Governor in 2022 around the 100s (including budget bills, which have not yet been agreed to/passed/enrolled but will be sent down to the Governor for her signature upon final passage). For comparison, there were 183 bills and resolutions passed in 2021, of which 182 were signed into law by the Governor. Find a full list of bills enrolled/signed by the Governor below.
Border Task Force MOU
On Friday, Governor Reynolds announced that she had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to form a border task force along with 25 other states. The agreement does not require new spending or sharing of personnel. Reynolds said that it will make it easier for states to share information to improve border security and aid in criminal investigations.
According to the Iowa State University Iowa Environmental Moisture Network, despite the record cold lows in temperature, Iowa’s ground temperature is warming up across the state. At least a third of Iowa’s 99 counties have officially broken into the 50s, with some counties in the West nearing or breaking the 60-degree mark. Temperatures in the northern counties, specifically the northeast counties, remain slow to rise. Still, with counties breaking the 50-degree mark, it is likely there will be several farmer legislators eager to get out into their fields to begin planting corn and soybeans.
Next week will bring the second full week that legislators will go beyond the 100th day of session. It is unclear if a new week will bring a new and final deal on ESAs. Once final negotiations are complete on ESAs, (the House passing the Senate version of the Governor’s bill, the House agreeing to amendments to the Senate version of the Governor’s bill, or the House not passing any provisions related to education reform as proposed by the Senate/Governor) the final stretch to sine die (final adjournment) will likely be quick.
If leadership has an agreement in place by early next week, it is likely the 2022 session will adjourn by Mother’s Day, working late nights and potentially into the weekend. If leadership remains at a stalemate, we will continue working through May and possibly into June. The clock continues to tick, as we are now five and half weeks away from the June primaries (June 7, 2022).
Listen to Speaker Grassley’s take on the end of session in his conversation with WHO-13 reporter Dave Price at the beginning of this week (April 24, 2022).
Bills Signed by Governor