State of Iowa COVID-19 Response

This content was published prior to the combination of Dentons Davis Brown. Learn more about Dentons Davis Brown.

Legislative Response  

The Iowa Legislature met Monday, March 16 in a one-day session to officially “pause” the session for 30-days and address several funding issues.

Emergency Measures passed both chambers unanimously; the Governor signed SF2408 into law Tuesday, March 17.  The legislation makes supplemental appropriations and gives the Governor some emergency powers to deal with the current situation; it also allows schools to close without having to make up the instructional days later in 2020.

Specifically, the legislation:

  • Makes supplemental appropriations for Medicaid, CHIP, and Glenwood
    • Medicaid—$88.9 million
    • Other Health Programs—$1.8 million
    • Hawk-I—$1,737,294
    • Glenwood—$595,608
  • Funds the State Hygienic Lab at the University of Iowa ($525,578) for additional coronavirus testing
  • Limits standing appropriations for payment of education related funding and allows for waiver of the instructional time requirements for schools that close in order to prevent or contain the spread of COVID-19
  • Extends amounts appropriated for state fiscal year 2020 to the first two months of fiscal year 2021 (for the period beginning July 1, 2020. and ending August 31, 2020).  This provision is the worst-case scenario IF the legislature can’t get back prior to the start of the next fiscal year which begins July 1, 2020.
  • Removes certain limits on amounts and requirements for intradepartmental and interdepartmental transfers made by the director of the Department of Management
  • Allows the Governor to have access to up to $20 million (10%) from the Iowa economic emergency fund through August 31, 2020. If the Governor needs more, the bill allows for approval by the legislative council.

The Concurrent Resolution Extended Adjournment (SCR 102) provides that the Senate and House will remain adjourned until April 15 at 10:00 a.m.  The Resolution allows the Legislative Council to meet and shorten or further extend the adjournment and it suspends the joint rules governing session until the General Assembly reconvenes.

Governor Response

Governor Reynolds issued a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency activating the public health response and recovery aspects of the State Disaster Emergency Plan effective at noon on March 17.  The proclamation requires social distancing to limit community spread of the virus, provides flexibility to those state agencies engaged in the response efforts, as well as provides support to the critical work of public health during this time.

“These are unprecedented times and the state of Iowa will do whatever is necessary to address this public health disaster. I have authorized all available state resources, supplies, equipment and materials to combat the spread of COVID-19,” said Gov. Reynolds. “The actions taken today are necessary to protect the health and safety of all Iowans and are critical to mitigating the spread of the virus.”

Below is a summary of the of the Governor’s proclamation.  Her actions are authorized by Iowa Code Chapter 29C, Emergency Management and Security:

Admin/Code sections impacted  Summary
Section 1 Activate public health response or state disaster emergency plan, authorize use of all available state resources, supplies, equipment and materials
Section 2 Section 135.144
Section 135.143
Directs DPH to take reasonable and necessary actions to address public health disaster, includes mobilizing response teams to supplement/support local and medical and public health personnel, hospitals, and resources; registered members of public health teams that provide assistance will receive protections and benefits of state employees
Section 3 Section 135.144(3) Closures effective 3/17 (at noon) through 4/1:

  • All restaurants and bars; food and beverage may be sold as carry-out or drive-through.
  • Fitness centers, health clubs, health spas, gyms, aquatic centers
  • Theaters or other performance venues
  • Casinos and gaming facilities
  • Senior citizen centers and adult daycare facilities
  • Mass gatherings; social, community, spiritual, religious, leisure, and sporting gatherings and events of more than 10 people; planned gatherings and events must be canceled or postponed
Section 4 Coordination of state agencies to develop plans to mitigate economic effects
Section 5 Continued activation of the disaster response and recovery aspects of Iowa Homeland Security and Iowa Emergency Response Plan; authorizes the use of all state resources, supplies, equipment, and materials as necessary to assist citizens in disaster affected counties
Section 6 11 IA Admin Code § 53.11(3) Suspends regulatory provision that prohibits certain State of Iowa employees from receiving overtime pay while they are engaged in assigned disaster response work
Section 7 Orders state agencies to utilize personnel, equipment, and facilities to assist DPH and Homeland Security
Section 8 Sections 135.61—135.73 Suspends regulatory provisions related to the Health Facility Council; institutional health facilities DO NOT need to obtain a certificate of need prior operating additional bed capacity (this is limited to the assistance and treatment of victims of this public health emergency for the duration of this proclamation) 
Section 9 Section 147.137
653 IA Admin Code § 13.11
641 IA Admin Code § 155.2, 155.21(19), and 155.23(4) 
Suspends regulatory provisions related to restrictions on telehealth or telemedicine services; suspends regulatory provisions related that require face-to-face interactions for health care providers, requirements for residential/outpatient substance use disorder treatment, and for face-to-face visitations
Section 10 Section 147.10
653 IA Admin Code § 9.13(6), 9.14
655 IA Admin Code § 3.7(5)
645 IA Admin Code § 261.8, 326.9(8)
Suspends regulatory provisions which prohibit the practice of medicine and surgery, osteopathic medicine and surgery, nursing, respiratory care, and practice as a physician assistant, by a licensee whose license is inactive or lapsed (within 5-years) (this is limited to the assistance and treatment of victims of this public health emergency for the duration of this proclamation)
Section 11 Section 256.16(1)(a)(2)(d) and (m)
281 IA Admin Code § 77.10(9)
281 IA Admin Code § 79.14(5), 79.14(7)
Suspends specific criteria for teacher preparation and certain educators that are required to meet a minimum number of hours of field experience to be recommended for licensure (if the higher education institution determines the student has completed enough field experience)
Section 12 Section 321.196 Suspends provisions that require a driver’s license issued to a person age 72 expire after two years (limited to those licenses which have expired within 60 days prior to the proclamation or during the duration of the proclamation); upon expiration of the proclamation, the 60 day period for renewal will resume
Section 13 Section 321.174A Suspends provisions that prohibit a person from operating a motor vehicle on the highway with an expired driver’s license (limited to those licenses which have expired within 60 days prior to the proclamation or during the duration of the proclamation); upon expiration of the proclamation, the 60 day period for renewal will resume
Section 14 Section 321.39 Suspends provisions related to expiration dates for vehicle registration, registration card, or registration plates (limited to those registrations which have expired within 60 days prior to the proclamation or during the duration of the proclamation)
Section 15  Section 321.46
Suspends provisions which require a transferee of a new motor vehicle to apply for a new registration and title within 30 days of purchase
Section 16  Section 321.25 Suspends provision which requires vehicles may operate upon the highway without registration plates for 45-days after the date of delivery of the vehicle to the purchaser
Section 17 Section 321.463(6)(a), (b)
Section 321E.29
761 IA Admin Code § 511
Continue to temporarily suspend weight limits related to vehicles, as they restrict the movement of oversize/overweight loads of food, medical supplies, cleaning products, and other household goods:

  • Applies to loads transported on all highways within Iowa, excluding the interstate system, and those which do not exceed 90,000lbs gross weight/max axle weight by more than 12.5%
  • Intended for vehicles transporting food, medical supplies, cleaning products, and other household goods (only for duration of proclamation)

DOT is directed to monitor to assure public’s safety and facility movement of trucks 

Section 18 Section 455C.3(1)
567 IA Admin Code § 107
Suspends bottle/can redemption activity; retailers are authorized to stop accepting empty beverage containers (for duration of proclamation) 
Section 19 Section 321.449 Suspend regulatory provisions pertaining to hours of service of motor carriers and drivers of commercial vehicles while transporting vaccines, antivirals, prescription drugs, protective equipment, and other medical supplies (applies only to hours of motor carriers and drivers while actively transporting medical assets related to this public health emergency)

  • 49 CFR 383 still applies (re:  substance/alcohol use and testing, and financial responsibility requirements)
  • Fatigued or ill drivers should not operate motor vehicles; drivers who need rest shall be given ten consecutive hours off duty
  • Carriers must give drivers at least 34 consecutive hours off when they have been on duty for more than 70 hours in any right consecutive days
Section 20 Chapter 8A
Section 313.10, 313.11
117 IA Admin Code
118 IA Admin Code
641 IA Admin Code
Continue to suspend regulatory provisions that require agencies involved in the response to procure goods and services through a competitive selection process (this is limited to this public health emergency for the duration of this proclamation
Section 21 DPS, DPH, DOE, Iowa Homeland Security, and DOT are directed to monitor operation and implementation of the proclamation 
Section 22 Nothing shall be construed as an exemption from any other provision of the Iowa Code or Admin Code unless specifically identified 
Section 23 Effective immediately 3/16 until 4/16, unless terminated sooner or extended

Court Response

The Iowa Supreme Court has postponed criminal jury trials until April 20 and civil jury trials until May 4.  The Iowa Appeals Court will not hear oral arguments through May 15.  All clerk of court offices remains open to the public during regular business hours, though some clerk offices have reduced hours.

All the information about the Iowa Supreme Court’s response to coronavirus COVID-19 is posted on the Judicial Branch website COVID-19 Information and Updates page.

We continue to publish updates regularly on our Coronavirus Resources webpage.

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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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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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