Capitol Report: Week 12 2023
April 2, 2023
By: Casey Nickel, Dustin J. Miller, Brad C. Epperly
March 31 is the second funnel deadline, meaning for any bills to remain eligible, they must have passed floor debate in one chamber and be through committee in the other. Any bills that do not meet this deadline are typically considered ‘dead’ for the session. However, lawmakers do have the ability to place bills on the ‘unfinished business’ calendar, allowing them to continue working on bills after the 12th week of session. Ways and Means or Appropriation bills are exempt from the funnel deadline.
Two bills, Senate File 75 and Senate File 262, were signed into law by the Governor earlier this week. Senate File 75, is a bill that would enable rural hospitals with 50 or less beds to get a federal designation that would aid them in keeping their doors open and allow them to continue to provide medical care for Iowans throughout the state. Senate File 262, is a bill that provides for greatly increased consumer data protections, and among other things, would allow for individuals to have the right to access their personal data that has been collected and the right to delete that data.
Trucker Tort Round 2:
Though the Senate passed their version of trucker tort back in February, the House passed an amended version on Tuesday, sending it back to the Senate for further consideration. The amended version of Senate File 228 was the result of a negotiated agreement reached between the Iowa Motor Truck Association and the Association for Justice (the plaintiff’s bar), increasing the noneconomic damages cap from $2 million to $5 million and adding a number of exceptions. The amendment also struck a couple provisions that would have allowed trucking companies to dismiss claims for negligent supervision and training. The Senate placed the bill on the unfinished business calendar at the close of the week, meaning that there is still room for discussion and another vote later in the session.
Parental Bill of Rights:
Legislators introduced legislation that would establish a Parental Bill of Rights in Iowa. Senate File 496, is meant to give parents absolute control over decisions affecting their children regarding gender identity and sexual orientation in K-6 schools. The bill would also require that Iowa school districts publicly display their course materials and create avenues for parents to request removal of certain topics. School libraries would be required to make available to students only age-appropriate books, which are defined in the bill as books that do not include descriptions or visuals depictions of sex acts. Though contentious, the bill passed out of the Senate last week with a party line vote and the House passed the bill out of an Education Subcommittee and Committee on Wednesday of this week.
Senate File 478, is a bill that protects certain personal or confidential information from being accessed by the State Auditor unless the state agency that is being audited agrees that the information is relevant for the purposes of the audit. Some of the items to be protected include health and medical records; criminal records; student records; attorney work product; and law enforcement investigative reports. Proponents of the bill say that this is necessary to protect private individuals personal information. However, those in opposition to the bill argue that safeguards are already in place at the state and federal level, and the bill will enable state agencies to determine what information should be audited, impacting the Auditor’s ability to conduct a thorough investigation. The bill passed out of a House subcommittee on Wednesday and the full State Government Committee on Thursday.
Other Bills of Interest
House File 632: A bill that would allow for public K-12 schools to use sales tax funding to increase cybersecurity defenses throughout their districts. With the threat of cybersecurity attacks becoming ever more prevalent, this bill will allow for public schools to be better prepared for any future attacks. The bill was passed out of the House early last week, and the Senate Technology Committee recommended its passage on Wednesday.
House File 565: A bill that would greatly limit the use of eminent domain for the purpose of building carbon pipelines will not make it past the second funnel. Last week the House passed the bill with a large majority of both Democrats and Republicans supporting the legislation. However, the Senate Commerce Committee did not meet this week and the bill died in the second funnel.
Budget: The Senate introduced 7 budget bills this week as shell bills for purposes of beginning budget discussions. Both the House and Senate released their budget targets after the March REC report issued its projections for FY24 earlier this month. The Senate and Governor Reynolds both proposed an $8.5 billion budget, a 3.3% increase over current spending, while the House proposed a slightly larger 4.5% increase over current spending.
With the second funnel date behind us, the state budget will be the main focus of the legislature moving forward. Remaining policy priorities include trucker tort reform, youth employment modernization, public assistance integrity, environmental social governance and property tax reform.
- April 3rd -7th, Senate considers only House bills, House considers only Senate bills, joint resolution and unfinished business.
- April 28th is the 110th day of session where per diem expenses end.