Capitol Report: Week 8 2023
March 3, 2023
By: Casey Nickel, Dustin J. Miller, Brad C. Epperly
Today is the first funnel deadline of the legislative session, bills must have received committee approval in their originating chamber to remain eligible for consideration. This week saw more than 150 bills being passed out of committees in both chambers as legislators worked to ensure their priorities met the deadline. Bills assigned to the Government Oversight, Appropriations, or Ways and Means Committees are not subject to the deadline, and any bills that have made it through committee can still be amended as they progress through the legislative process.
High Profile Legislation
House Study Bill 134 would allow for the Iowa Workforce Development and Department of Education to provide exceptions for prohibited jobs for 14-17 year old employees who participate in a work-based learning or a school or employer- administered work related program. The bill also exempts businesses from civil liability due to the company or employee’s negligence. Proponents of the bill argue the legislation will provide more opportunities for students who would rather enter the workforce early and develop skills outside of typical high school extracurriculars as well as combatting workforce shortages. Opponents of the legislation argue the risks to youth employees are too high. House Democrats raised major concerns about the bills provision to allow younger workers to serve alcohol in bars and restaurants. After much discussion, HSB 134 was passed out of the House Commerce Committee on Wednesday afternoon. The Senate Workforce Committee approved their companion bill, Senate File 167 on Thursday.
Senate Republicans remained focused on tax reform as a key priority. Senate Study Bill 1126 would expand last year’s income tax decrease, dropping the tax incrementally over the next decade to eventually eliminate it entirely. An individual income tax relief elimination fund would be created to help support the overall goal of eliminating income tax in the state. The bill would also provide favorable cuts to corporations, which could see a drop from last year’s 5.5% to 4.75% in the coming years. A Senate Ways and Means Subcommittee recommended the bill’s passage to full committee on Wednesday, because the bill impacts taxes it is exempt from the funnel deadline.
A number of railroad safety bills were passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday. Senate File 243, would require class 1 and 2 rail carriers to be manned by at least 2 qualified railroad employees while the train is in operation and provides for penalties if a railroad company is found to have violated the provision. Senate File 337, would require railroad companies to install railroad defect detectors every 15 miles on their branch lines. Senate File 349, would require railroad companies to increase the number of warning signs and gates that would give the public sufficient notice as to the proximity of an incoming train at any public railroad crossing.
Other Bills of Interest
House File 218: A bill that would prohibit the State’s Regents from funding diversity, equity, and inclusions (DEI) programs, which includes hiring of professionals to serve as DEI officers. The bill also enables any person to alert the Iowa Attorney General to the University’s violation of the bill. HF 218 was passed out of the House Education Committee on Wednesday, making it eligible for floor debate as early as next week.
House File 368: The fight against eminent domain is still alive up at the Capitol. This bill requires pipeline companies to gather at least 90% of impacted landowner’s permission prior to utilizing eminent domain to secure the remaining easements necessary to build their proposed pipeline. The House Judiciary passed the bill out of Committee on Thursday.
House Study Bill 147: Iowa Economic Development Authority introduced a bill to create a Major Economic Growth Attraction Program that would provide additional incentives for large economic development projects meeting certain criteria. The House advanced the bill through the first funnel on Thursday. Senate companion bill, SSB 1162, was referred to the Ways and Means Committee.
House Joint Resolution 8: Eight Representatives introduced a resolution that would define marriage in Iowa as the “union between one human biological male and one human biological female.” To be enacted, the legislation would have to be approved by the General Assembly in two concurrent sessions and approved by a majority of Iowans on the ballot. Republican leadership in both chambers confirmed they would not be moving the resolution forward, and the bill died in the first funnel after not being assigned to a subcommittee.
Senate Study Bill 1123: The government reorganization bill proposed by Governor Reynolds survived the legislative funnel in both chambers. Both the Senate and House have indicated they will consider amendments during floor debate to address concerns raised during the lengthy subcommittee process. The proposal would consolidate departments and reduce the number of state department directors from 37 to 16.
Senate Study Bill 1168: The legislation would prohibit employers from prohibiting firearms in employer parking lots, so long as the owner of the firearm stores the firearm in a locked vehicle out of sight. The proposal has been introduced in previous years but has failed to pass both chambers. The Senate Judiciary passed the bill out of committee on Thursday and the House Public Safety Committee approved the House companion bill on Thursday.
Remaining priorities for the legislature include property tax reform, commercial trucking tort reform and the Governor’s government reorganization bill are three priorities are survived the first funnel deadline.
The Revenue Estimating Conference will meet on March 10th to provide the legislature with the most recent Fiscal Year 2024 estimate. The legislature will begin to develop the FY24 budget following the REC meeting.
Floor debate will pick up in both chambers in the upcoming weeks to consider bills that survived the first funnel.
- Revenue Estimating Conference will meet on March 10th
- March 31st is the second Funnel Date
- April 28th is the 110th day of session where per diem expenses end