Capitol Report: Week 11 2023

March 24, 2023

Though the week was relatively quiet at the Capitol consisting of the usual mix of meetings and floor debate, Governor Reynolds did sign multiple bills into law Wednesday afternoon, including Senate File 538, which prohibits the use of puberty blockers, hormone therapy or surgery for individuals under the age of 18 who wish to transition to a sex other than that of which they were born, and Senate File 482, which requires students in K-12 schools to use the bathroom or locker room that align with their biological sex.



Priority Legislation


Pipeline Construction:

The eminent domain battle rolls on after the House voted to pass House File 565 on Wednesday. Initially, this bill would have created a 90% threshold for the use of eminent domain by carbon capture pipeline companies to gain property rights from private landowners. The bill was amended to provide additional protections for landowners if their land were ever damaged by a pipeline.


House File 565 garnered support from both parties, with a final vote of 73-20. Some supporters of the bill do not necessarily oppose the carbon pipeline.  Rather, they oppose the use of eminent domain for private projects. Opponents of the bill argue that the bill gives a small number of landowners too much power to determine whether a pipeline like this would be in the best interest of the state as a whole. The Senate received the bill Thursday morning and referred it to the Commerce Committee. The bill must pass both subcommittee and committee in the Senate by Friday to remain eligible.



MEGA Program:

Senate Study Bill 1162 would create an incentive program aimed toward attracting large capital investments into the state, in turn, sparking economic development and creating well-paying jobs. Many proponents of the bill were present at the subcommittee meeting on Wednesday and spoke in support of the economic growth opportunities that an incentive program like this can bring to the state and small communities throughout. The bill passed out of the Senate Ways and Means subcommittee on Wednesday by a five member panel, all of which were supportive of finding new and innovative ways to bring more business into the state. The House companion bill, HF 642, is in the House Ways and Means Committee after being approved by the Economic Growth and Technology Committee earlier this month.



SNAP Benefits:

On Wednesday, the Senate approved Senate File 494, a bill to add additional oversight to Iowa’s food stamp programs in Iowa. Under the bill, Iowans receiving public assistance benefits would face additional asset tests to receive benefits, any household with liquid assets of more than $15,000 would not be eligible for SNAP benefits. The asset limit does not include the value of a home or the household first car. The legislation also includes requiring regular checks to determine ongoing eligibility. Both chambers have been working on legislation to reform Iowa’s SNAP program eligibility.  However, the Senate bill did not include restrictions on buying candy and soda in House File 613. The Senate approved SF 494 with a party line vote.



Other Bills of Interest


House File 265: A bill that would require midwives to be professionally licensed in Iowa was passed out of the House with an impressive 91-3 floor vote. In addition to licensing requirements, this bill would create a regulatory board that would provide oversight to the practice and ensure that prospective midwives earn the appropriate educational requirements prior to becoming licensed.


House File 668: A bill that would classify commercial childcare centers residential property under the property tax classification. The House approved the bill on Tuesday with bi-partisan support.


Senate File 402: A bill that would create a cybersecurity simulation training center at Iowa State University passed out of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday. The program would train participants to counter cybersecurity threats and mitigate any damage that may result from an attack. The training itself is not just for students, but may be used by businesses, state agencies, and educators.


Senate File 547: A bill that would penalize the use of using handheld electronic devices while driving was passed out of the Senate on Wednesday with bi-partisan approval. The bill now sits in the House Transportation Committee and is awaiting a subcommittee assignment.



Next Week

The second funnel deadline is March 31st, which requires legislation to have passed out of one chamber received approval from a committee in the other chamber to remain alive. This deadline does not include tax and spending bills.


 Session Timeline

  • March 31st is the second Funnel Date
  • April 3rd – 7th, Senate considers only House bills; House considers only Senate bills; joint resolutions and unfinished business
  • April 28th is the 110th day of session where per diem expenses end