Capitol Report: Week 3 2023

January 27, 2023

By: Casey Nickel, Dustin J. Miller, Brad C. Epperly

Governor Reynolds signed House File 68 on Tuesday, a bill creating Educational Savings Accounts allowing tax dollars to be used for private school tuition. The signing followed the Monday evening of debate that went well into the night. The vote in the House was 55-45, with 9 Republicans joining the Democrats against the bill.  In the Senate 3 Republicans joined the Democrats in opposition for a final vote count of 31 - 18.


Republicans argued that power is being given back to parents. Democrats conveyed skepticism, arguing the bill takes funding from rural communities while discriminating against certain children because private schools are able to deny admission.


Effective for the 2023-24 school year, ESAs will be available based on the following eligibility:     


Year 1: School Year 2023-24  

    • All kindergarten students  
    • All public-school students  
    • Private school students with a household income at or below 300% FPL, $83,250 for a family of four  


Year 2: School Year 2024-25  

    • All kindergarten students  
    • All public-school students  
    • Private school students with a household income at or below 400% FPL, $111,000 for a family of four  


Year 3: School Year 2025-26  

    • All K-12 students in Iowa regardless of income  



Priority Legislation


Tort Reform (Medical Malpractice):

The Senate Judiciary Committee discussed one of many tort reform measures on Wednesday, focusing their attention on Senate Study Bill 1063. The bill puts a $1 million cap on noneconomic damages in lawsuits against health care providers for cases of loss or impairment of a bodily function, disfigurement, or death.


Under current law, noneconomic damages that can be claimed in a medical malpractice lawsuit are capped at $250,000. However, if a jury determines the case involves substantial or permanent loss of body function, substantial disfigurement, or death the cap does not apply.


SSB 1063 was amended to mirror that of its companion in the House, House File 102, which was passed out of a subcommittee on Thursday with a 2-1 vote. The House Health and Human Services Committee will consider the legislation on Monday, January 30.




Open Market Energy Options


This week an article from the Des Moines Register outlined that conversations are taking place at the Capitol as to whether energy customers should be able to purchase their power from the open market as opposed to relying on the two major energy providers in the state. Some of Iowa’s biggest energy customers are concerned with spikes in energy rates and are hoping to create an opportunity to decrease energy costs by gaining access to the open market while greatly limiting oversight from state regulators.


On the other end, groups comprised of large energy users are advocating for legislation allowing state regulators to approve certain rate structures for businesses while still maintaining regulatory authority. Consumers are in search of more competitive energy options but understand the need for oversight and regulation to ensure that large scale outages and excessively large energy bills do not becomes problems in the state. 




Five proposed bills, Senate Files 100 –104, were introduced on Thursday January 19th. These bills would limit eminent domain opportunities for hazardous liquid pipeline companies, limit their ability to conduct land surveys and negotiate easements for that land, and require them to identify their investors.


These bills would impact proposed pipelines or pipelines that began construction on or after July 1, 2019. Much of this legislation comes in response to the proposed carbon pipelines that would travel from ethanol plants in Iowa, out of state to underground sites in Illinois and North Dakota.



Other Bills of Interest


House File 48:  A bill that would have eliminated the tenure system at the State’s Regents Universities did not advance out of a House Education Subcommittee on Tuesday following overwhelming pushback from the public and concerned advocacy groups.


House Study Bill 88: A bill that would limit the total length of trains operating in the State to 8,500 ft passed out of a House Transportation Subcommittee on Thursday morning.


Senate Study Bill 1040: Renumbered to SF 134, this bill modifies farmers market license issuance from county wide coverage to statewide coverage and passed out of the Senate Local Government Committee on Wednesday.



Next Week


Week 4 of the 2023 session will see much more discussion taking place on topics such as energy, tort reform and possibly property taxes. A major government restructuring bill proposed by the Governor’s office is expected in the coming weeks, and could be introduced as early as next week. Floor debate will continue to pick up in both the House and Senate as bills are passed out of their respective Committees.



Session Timeline


  • March 3rd first funnel
  • March 31st second funnel
  • April 28th last scheduled day of session