Capitol Report - Week 14 2021

April 19, 2021

By: Paula S. Dierenfeld

It Won’t Be Long. Eight of the ten major budget bills have now made it out of committee in both chambers and have been placed on their respective debate calendars. And while good progress is being, neither chamber has introduced a Health and Human Services budget or a Standings bill, the two bills that typically appropriate the largest amounts from the state’s general fund.


With just two weeks to go before legislators’ per diem runs out, there is a feeling that the session is winding down. On Thursday, both chambers went through the formality of gaveling in and out, and then spent the rest of the day behind closed doors negotiating the budget bills and “must do” policy bills that will get them to adjournment. Legislative leadership are hesitant to predict when the session will end but legislative staff and lobbyists remain optimistic it will be close to the April 30th target date.


Following is the status of the major budget bills:



*  *  * 


Don’t Let Me Down. On Tuesday, the Senate adopted a resolution, SR 6, deferring confirmation of all appointments made by the Governor and not acted upon by the Senate before its statutory deadline, April 15. Twenty three names remain on the list, 17 on the En Bloc Calendar (voted on as a group) and six on the Individual Calendar (voted on separately).  Any name can be moved from the En Bloc to the Individual Calendar by a senator at any time before a vote is taken on the appointment. Generally those moved to the Individual Calendar are appointees who for one reason or another are considered controversial and/or require more scrutiny. Included on the Individual Calendar are the following: Adam Steen for Director of the Department of Administrative Services, Ann Lebo for Director of the Department of Education, Michael Bousselot for Director of the Department of Management, Erik Helland for the Public Employment Relations Board, Margaret McQuown for State Soil Conservation Committee, and Josh Byrnes for the Iowa Utilities Board. A two-thirds vote of the Senate, or 34 senators, is required to confirm an appointee.   


*  *  * 


For You Blue. On Wednesday, the House passed a bill, SF 342, a sweeping piece of legislation that expands protections for police and other law enforcement and increases penalties for protest-related crimes. Among other things, the bill would give Iowa law enforcement officers “qualified immunity” in certain lawsuits, withhold state funding from communities that defund the police, increase the penalties for criminal mischief and rioting, and grant civil immunity to drivers of vehicles who injure someone blocking traffic while engaging in disorderly conduct or participating in a riot. During debate, Rep. Mary Wolf questioned whether passage of the bill was legal because it did not include a “correctional impact statement” which she argued is required by state law. Her request to defer action on the bill until a correctional impact statement could be drafted was rejected. SF 342 passed the House 63-30, with eight Democrats joining Republicans to vote for the bill, and two Republicans voting with 28 Democrats against it.


*  *  * 


I Feel Fine. Two more confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported at the Capitol this past week, one in the House and one in the Senate. These new cases brings the total number of confirmed cases in the House to eight and in the Senate to two. The safety protocols put in place by the legislature at the beginning of the session do not require legislators or staff to report when they have tested positive for COVID-19 but they are encouraged to do so. Every time a new positive case is reported rumors run rampant as to who it might be and the voting boards are checked to see if a legislator has suddenly, and inexplicably been excused.   


*  *  * 


Et Cetera. Last week, it was Bruce Springsteen. The titles in this week’s Capitol Report are Beatle’s songs. It wasn’t a hard task to find fitting titles to use since the Beatles recorded over 200 songs. The End.



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.