Capitol Report - Week Eight 2021

March 8, 2021

By: Paula S. Dierenfeld

This Funnel’s No Cake. The first funnel of the 2021 legislative session came and went last Friday, making this past week a fairly hectic one. The push at the end wasn’t quite what’s it’s been in past years, but it certainly was no cake walk. Ninety five subcommittee meetings were held and one hundred and sixty two bills were voted out of standing committees. For bills to remain alive this session, they had to be reported out of their originating committees by end of the week and headed for the Debate Calendar.  Appropriations bills, Ways and Means bills, and Government Oversight bills are exempt from the funnels.  


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Notable Mentions.  Among the bills that survived and died in the first funnel are…. drumroll, please


What Made It

  1. College Athlete Compensation – SF 386 – Allows athletes at Iowa colleges and universities to be paid for the use of their names, images or likenesses, or athletic reputations. (A similar bill in the House, HF 671, died.)
  2. Constitutional Amendment - Abortion – SJR 2/HJR 5 - States that the Iowa Constitution “shall not be construed to recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion or to require the public funding of abortion”
  3. Permanent Daylight Saving Time – SF 35 – Establishes daylight saving time as the official time in the state throughout the year
  4. Traffic Cameras – SF 516 - Requires removal and a ban on most automated traffic enforcement cameras (A similar bill in the House, HF 249, died.)
  5. Handheld Cellphone Use – SF 330/HF 392 – Bans any use of a handheld cellphone while driving, not just texting
  6. Defunding Police – SF 479 – Denies state funding to cities and counties that reduce their budgets for law enforcement by an amount greater than an overall budget reduction. (A similar bill in the House, HSB 230 died.)
  7. Constitutional Amendment - Felon Voting – HJR 11 – Amends the Iowa Constitution to automatically restore voting rights to felons once they discharge their sentence. (A similar bill in the House, HSB 230 died.)
  8. Pot Possession – SF 533 – Reduces the penalty for first offense possession of 5 grams or less of marijuana to a simple misdemeanor
  9. Governor’s School Choice Proposals – SF 159 - Provides financial assistance to students attending private schools, removes the ability of school districts to use their voluntary diversity plans as a reason to deny requests for open enrollment and provides more flexibility to form charter schools. (The House divided the “school choice” proposals into separate bills – the charter schools proposal (HSB 242) survived the funnel, financial assistance to private school students (HSB 243) did not. The House’s open enrollment bill (HF 228) previously passed the House and is in the Senate.)
  10. Other Governor’s PrioritiesGovernor Reynold’s proposals to expand broadband internet access in the state (SF 390, HS 133) and to provide more affordable housing options (SF 295, HF 582) have advanced in both chambers.


What Died

  1. Death Penalty - SSB 1004, SF 82, HF 271 – Reinstates death penalty for persons convicted of multiple offenses of murder, kidnapping, and sexual abuse if the victim is the same or a minor
  2. Religious Freedom Bill – SF 436 – Specifies that the government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion unless it is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest
  3. Bathroom Bill – SF 224 – Requires transgender students to use the bathroom matching the sex listed on their birth certificate
  4. Minimum Wage Increase – HF 122 – Increases the state minimum hourly wage to $13.20 by July 2025
  5. Fireworks Sales – SF 99 – Allows cities and counties to ban or limit the sale of fireworks
  6. Racial Profiling Ban – SSB 1140, HF 130, HF 356 – Prohibits law enforcement from engaging in disparate treatment when detaining a person or conducting a stop


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Life at the End of the Funnel. Just a reminder, no bill is ever really “dead” until the legislature adjourns sine die. The language of a bill that does not make it through the funnel can always reappear later in the form of an amendment to another bill, a newly drafted funnel-proof bill or as a provision in the Standings Appropriations bill at the end of session.


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Week Ahead. Floor debate will begin in earnest this week.  Expect the legislature to start giving more attention to Appropriations (budget), and Ways and Means (tax) bills.


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.