Capitol Report - Week 11 2021
March 29, 2021
By: Paula S. Dierenfeld
Spring has Sprung. Monday starts the beginning of the twelfth week, the forty-ninth session day, and the seventy-eighth calendar day of this legislative session. The 110th day, the day legislators lose their clerks and stop getting paid, is April 30th, just a little over four weeks away. You know the end is near when the farmer legislators start talking about getting their work at the Capitol done so they can get in the fields. Glory Hallelujah!
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Good Friday or Not? The second funnel deadline is coming up this Friday, April 2nd. Senate bills must be reported out of House committees and House bills must be reported out of Senate committees to stay alive. Among those that have already survived the second funnel is a bill that would require only dogs, and not their human companions, to be trained in deer blood tracking (SF 457, HF 552), and another that would allow ABATE Iowa, an organization of motorcycle enthusiasts, to sell merchandise at toy runs held on the State Capitol grounds (HJR 10). At risk of dying is a bill that would make daylight saving time the official time year around (SF 335), and one that would ban the use of a firearm while riding an electric scooter (HF 738).
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Season to Forgive. On Thursday, the House passed a bill, HF 831, unanimously that would allow a person convicted of a nonviolent Class “D” felony to apply to have the conviction expunged from their criminal record. The bill specifically lists the Class “D” felonies that are eligible for expungement. It also requires a person to wait until 10 years have passed since they were discharged from the sentence on their conviction and to have paid all costs and restitution related to the crime. HF 831 would limit the opportunity to apply for expungement to once in a lifetime. HF 831 does not have a companion bill waiting for it in the House.
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At End of the Bunny Trail. In January, Governor Reynolds asked the legislature to appropriate $450 million over the next three years ($150 million a year) to provide affordable, high-speed internet to every Iowan by 2025. During an interview on Iowa Press on Friday, House Speaker Pat Grassley began to lower expectations somewhat on the amount of funding that might be available and the speeds that providers would be required to offer in order to receive state funds. Grassley said the House is looking at how the funding for broadband fits into the bigger global budget picture and is considering “around $100 million” a year. He also questioned whether it makes sense to spend “top dollar” amounts to get fiber to areas where there’s one house every four miles, suggesting that alternative technologies might make more sense.
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Guns and Roses, or Tulips and Daffodils. On Monday, the Senate passed two bills, HF 621 and HF 756, along party lines (31-17), that change Iowa’s firearms laws. HF 621 restricts the liability of firearm and ammunition manufacturers, distributors and dealers in lawsuits where the theory of recovery is based on the lawful design, manufacture, marketing or sale of a firearm or ammunition and those seeking recovery for injuries resulting from the unlawful misuse of a firearm or ammunition.
HF 756 makes having a permit to acquire or carry a firearm optional, rather than required, when purchasing a firearm from a federally licensed dealer. As an alternative to having a permit, the person would be required to undergo a federal instant background check every time they purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer. HF 756 would make it a Class “D” felony for a person to sell a firearm to someone the seller knows or reasonably should know is prohibited from owning a firearm. The bills previously passed the House and are now on their way to the Governor’s desk. Governor Reynolds has said her staff is reviewing the bills but she has not said whether she will sign them.
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Counting the Eggs. On Wednesday, Senate Republicans released their FY 2022 budget targets. They set their total spending for FY 2022 at $7.999 billion and increase of $195 million, or 2.5%. The Senate Republican’s target is lower than the total spending proposed by the Governor in January, which was $8.114 billion. House Republicans are expected to release their budget targets sometime this week.
The Nyemaster Goode Government Affairs team tracks and analyzes legislation as part of its full range of legislative services. At the statehouse, our public policy attorneys use experience, knowledge, and technical skills to achieve our clients’ goals.