Capitol Report - Week Five 2021
February 15, 2021
By: Paula S. Dierenfeld
Baby, It’s Cold Outside. This past week, meteorologists around the state reported actual day time high temperatures below zero and wind chill temps at night in the negative 30s. The frigid, artic blast we’re experiencing might be great for polar bears but not for even the hardiest of Iowans. Some places have reported new record lows but that hasn’t happened yet here in Des Moines. Perhaps there is some good that comes from all the hot air at the Capitol. Regardless, we’ve seen enough history made over the past several months – more extreme weather is one we can take a pass on.
* * *
Tardy or Not? On Tuesday, the Senate passed SF 269, a bill that proposed a 2.2 percent increase in state supplemental aid for Iowa’s K-12 schools in the next school year. The bill passed largely along party lines, 32-17. The House’s initial counter was a 2.5 percent increase, but on Thursday the House struck a deal with the Senate to provide 2.4 percent and passed the bill, 56-36. According to the bill’s floor manager, Representative Cecil Dolecheck, the agreed-to increase will provide an additional $36.5 million in supplemental aid to Iowa schools in FY 2022. By law, the legislature must pass a supplemental aid bill within 30 days of receiving the Governor’s budget. During closing remarks on SF 269, Representative RasTafari Smith, ranking member of the Education Committee, noted 31 days had already passed.
* * *
Kiddy Care. On Wednesday, the House approved a package of bills to address Iowa’s workforce shortage by increasing access and affordability of child care. HF 302 creates a graduated eligibility phase-out program to eliminate the “cliff effect,” a situation where families lose all child care assistance once their incomes reach a certain level. HF 370 provides tax credits to businesses that provide child care benefits to their employees. HF 301 establishes a child workforce state matching grants program to provide funding to communities that implement child care workforce strategies. HF 230 raises the maximum net income threshold levels used to calculate the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and Early Childhood Tax Credit. HF 292 increases reimbursement rates to providers participating in the state child care assistance program. HF 260 increases the number of children an in-home child care provider can serve without having to register as a “child development home.” The bills have been sent to the Senate where most have “companions” waiting for them.
* * *
COVID at the Capitol. On Sunday, Governor Reynolds’ latest public health proclamation took effect removing the mask mandates and gathering limitations that were imposed in November. While the requirements have been removed, the Governor’s proclamation “strongly encourages” businesses to take steps to protect their workers and patrons and persons over 65 or that have preexisting medical conditions to limit the time they spend outside their homes. No new cases of COVID-19 were reported at the Capitol this past week.
* * *
Etc. This week, Senator Jim Carlin, a Republican lawyer from Sioux City, is expected to announce his bid for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Senator Chuck Grassley. Carlin has served in the Iowa legislature for five years, first in the House and then in the Senate. Grassley has not yet announced whether he will run for re-election in 2022.
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.