At the end of Week 8, the Iowa legislature met its first major milestone of the 2023 legislative session. Friday brought the close of the first legislative funnel—and this first funnel was eventful.
Thursday alone, the legislature had over 100 bills on committee agendas for consideration. The Government Oversight bill (HF 613), the House version of the ESG bill (HF 2), and the Gender Affirming Surgery and Treatments bill (HF 623) had House committees working into the early morning due to extensive caucuses. The House Judiciary Committee wrapped up well after midnight. Chambers and Legislative Services Agency are still working to catch up from the volume and late night—it is likely bills will continue to be renumbered/reprinted and trickle into the bill list through next week. Dentons Davis Brown will provide a more thorough funnel recap next week when it all shakes out.
What is the funnel?
This funnel is a deadline that legislators need to meet for a bill to remain “alive” and eligible for further action. To remain eligible for consideration this session, a bill must be voted out of committee in its chamber of origin by today (the close of Friday, March 3). There are limited exceptions for appropriations, tax, and leadership bills. The goal of the funnel is to narrow the focus of legislative priorities.
The majority of funnel week was consumed with committee action, advancing bills through full committee so they remain eligible for further consideration. Once they receive approval from the full committee, they will be renumbered/reprinted and become floor eligible in their originating chamber.
A brief overview of the progress of the Governor’s legislative priorities:
|Education Reform||Students First Act|
Signed by Governor
|Medical Malpractice||HF 161|
Signed by Governor
|Residential Valuation Fix||SF 181|
Signed by Governor
|Property Tax Reform||SF 356|
Passed Ways and Means
|HF 1 Alive Ways and Means bill (n exception to funnel)|
|Sales Tax||SSB 1125|
Ways and Means bill (an exception to funnel)
Passed State Government
|HSB 126 (to be renumbered)|
Passed State Government
|Trucking Tort Reform||SF 228|
Passed Senate 30-19
|Reproductive Rights||SF 297 Alive Passed Judiciary|
Other Policy Development Highlights
On Tuesday, the House and Senate Judiciary committees both passed the Governor’s proposal to deal with Iowa’s fentanyl crisis. The bill does a few things to address the sources and misuses of fentanyl in the state. It increases the penalties for manufacturing and selling fentanyl and increases the sentences if the fentanyl is linked to an overdose death. The bill also makes opioid antagonists (the drugs like Narcan used to reverse an overdose) more widely available.
Asset Testing for SNAP
The Health and Human Services committees in both the House and Senate moved bills on asset testing for the SNAP program. Commonly known as food stamps, this program provides funds to be used to purchase food for low-income Iowans. Legislators have run into roadblocks with this legislation in past sessions, but with Speaker Grassley as the lead sponsor (and 38 Republican co-sponsors), HF 613 has more strength than before. In the House, the bill passed committee 12-9; in the Senate, it passed 9-4.
Two pipeline bills were moving through the capitol: SF 346, which did not pass the subcommittee on Monday (subcommittee recommends indefinite postponement), and HF 368, which is in the Ways and Means committee. This means it can still be approved and sent to the Senate before the second funnel in late March. HF 368 requires a higher level of voluntary easements than the Senate bill (90% versus 67%) and prohibits the IUB from issuing a permit for a liquid CO2 (carbon capture) pipeline until federal safety rules have been adopted. The House File also includes additional losses for which compensation can be sought. Opponents are concerned changes to eminent domain will hurt local governments. Anti-pipeline activists demonstrated at the capitol several times this week.
This week, 29 bills were introduced related to the rights of LGBTQ+ Iowans. The House and Senate both introduced bills to limit gender-affirming surgery and hormonal treatment for minors (SSB 1197 and HF 623) and to designate bathrooms for the use of single-sex people in schools (SF 482 and HF 622).
Senate education committee approved SF 482. Wednesday on an 11-5 vote, along with the Governor’s education proposal (SF 496) and a seizure action plan (SF 177). House education Wednesday passed 10 bills out, including its seizure action bill (HF 379), and bills that prohibit schools from punishing students or teachers for failing to use a preferred pronoun or name on a 13-10 vote (HF 620), defund diversity and inclusion programs at state universities on a 13-10 vote (HF 616), and to restrict school library materials to age-appropriate material (HF 597).
House education Wednesday passed 10 bills out, including its seizure action bill (HF 379), and bills that prohibit schools from punishing students or teachers for failing to use a preferred pronoun or name on a 13-10 vote (HF 367), defund diversity and inclusion programs at state universities on a 13-10 vote (HSB 218), and to restrict school library materials to age-appropriate material (HSB 219).
There were also two bills introduced this week aiming to ban gay marriage. The House Joint Resolution (HJR 8) gained national attention, in part because it conflicts with the Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges, and Congress’ bipartisan passage of the Respect for Marriage Act. Another bill (HF 508) says elements of the Respect for Marriage Act would be null and void in the state and would allow Iowans to not acknowledge same-sex marriages, citing religious grounds. Neither bill will advance past the funnel.
Executive Branch Update
Education Savings Account Program Administrator Chosen
The state of Iowa has selected Odyssey to administer its new education savings accounts (ESAs). When Governor Reynolds signed the Students First Act into law on January 24 of this year, the state issued a request for proposals and selected Odyssey from a list of four applicants. Odyssey was chosen based on its ability to manage all aspects of program administration, including applications, financial transactions, compliance, fraud prevention, and customer service. Once the contract negotiation process is finalized, the Office of the Governor, Department of Education, Department of Management, and Office of the Chief Information Officer will collaborate on implementation. Students and families can find more information about the education savings account program at the Iowa Department of Education website.
EPA Implements Year-Round Sale of E15
The Governor released a statement in response to the Environmental Protection Agency approving the sale of E15 after this summer. “While long overdue, I am thrilled that the EPA has approved our multi-state bipartisan RVP waiver request that will pave the way for year-round E15 and bring certainty to the industry.”
On Thursday, she addressed the Renewable Fuels Association at the National Ethanol Conference to accept the All-Industry Award. “I was proud to lead a multi-governor, bipartisan letter that successfully pushed the EPA to issue a waiver. Giving Americans access to lower-cost E15 over the summer when gas prices were at their highest. But this temporary fix was just the beginning. The letter also included a regional request that the EPA provide permanent access to E15 in future summers. I was pleased to learn that this week the federal government published the final rule that will fulfill its statutory obligation to comply with this request. The impact of this victory will be enormous.”
Bills Signed by the Governor (as of 3/1/2023)
|HF 68||Establishing an Educational Savings Account program in Iowa||Signed by Governor. H.J. 177.||1/24/2023|
|SF 192||Establishing SSA (School Supplemental Aid) for FY 2024||Signed by Governor. S.J. 279.||2/7/2023|
|SF 153||Single-trip permits for a vehicle of excessive size in emergency situations||Signed by Governor. S.J. 354.||2/15/2023|
|HF 161||Limitations on damages in medical malpractice||Signed by Governor. H.J. 373.||2/16/2023|
|SF 181||Property tax calculation fix for residential assessments||Signed by Governor. S.J. 376.||2/20/2023|
What is next?
The focus of the next few weeks will be advancing bills through the full chambers so they can be assigned and considered in the opposite chamber before the second funnel on March 31. Floor debate will consume the next few weeks. We can also expect negotiations on a property tax reform plan and preliminary conversations related to the development of the FY 2024 budget.
The full 2023 Session Timetable can be found here.