Capitol Report - Week Nine 2021
March 15, 2021
By: Paula S. Dierenfeld
Rapid Fire. With the passing of the first funnel, floor debate became the dominant activity in both chambers this past week. Twenty eight bills were debated and passed in the Senate, 67 were acted upon in the House. Seventeen bills were signed by the Governor including SF 413, a bill that makes numerous, substantial changes to Iowa’s election laws. We’re past the midway point of the session so expect things to really ramp up as the weather warms, the days get longer and that 110th day (April 30) fast approaches.
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Caught in the Crosshairs (or Not). Last week’s report provided a list of bills of general interest that survived and died in the first funnel. While that list is important and may have the greatest impact on you and your job, it probably didn’t provide much entertaining conversation for your family members or friends. The following may give you a little more to talk about.
- Cut Me In (HF 760) Allows licensed barbers and cosmetologists to work at wedding venues.
- Can’t Ride and Shoot at the Same Time (HF 738) Bans the use of a firearm while riding an electric scooter.
- Tracker Trained Dogs (SF 457) Removes a requirement that both the person and dog used to track a wounded deer be trained in deer blood tracking. The bill would require only dogs to be trained.
- Don’t Beam Me Anywhere, Scottie (HF 198) Makes it a crime to point a laser emitting a visible light beam at another person with the intent to cause pain.
- Lighter, Later (SF 335) Makes daylight saving time the official time year around.
- Pick Up or You’re Out (SF 465) Makes littering a reason for suspending a person’s hunting and fishing license, as well as camping privileges at state parks.
Died in Funnel
- Bear With Me (HF 22) Establishes an open season for hunting black bears in Iowa.
- Those Were the Days (HF 296) Allows licensed dealers to sell motor vehicles on Sunday.
- Kiddie Conflicts (SF 59) Prohibits schools from scheduling activities on evenings the presidential precinct caucuses are held.
- Revenge of Elmer Fudd (SF 85) Provides protection from mistreatment for rabbits like other farm animals.
- Make John Hancock Proud (SF 89) Requires schools to include cursive handwriting in their curriculum.
- Mushroom Magic (SF 459) Makes psychedelic mushrooms (psilocybin and psilocin) legal for medicinal purposes.
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Caught in A Time Capsule. A year has passed since the first cases of COVID-19 were identified in the state and the world as we knew it then would never be the same. While the COVID-19 protocols established prior to session are still in place at the Capitol, things are beginning to feel a little more normal. “Average Iowans” are beginning to return to the “Peoples’ House” to see how our laws are made. Following is an excerpt from the Capitol Report dated March 13, 2020, just one day before the legislature temporarily shut down last session. It’s haunting.
“Faster than a Speeding Bullet. That aptly describes how quickly the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus are evolving. Behaviors at the Capitol last week changed daily – on Tuesday, people stopped shaking hands, on Wednesday, hand sanitizer could be seen everywhere, and on Thursday, everyone began speculating on how the spread of the virus would impact the legislative session. By Friday, nearly a third of states’ legislatures had either suspended their sessions or restricted public access to their Capitols. Iowa’s legislative leaders were not yet prepared to alter the way business gets done at the Capitol but they said that could change, and change very quickly, if health officials issued a “community-spread” alert for the virus. At that time, only 17 Iowans had tested positive for the virus, all knew how they became infected and in each case it was travel related.
At 8:30 Saturday night, Governor Reynolds held a press conference to announce an additional Iowan had tested positive for the coronavirus and that the source of the person’s infection — how or where they became infected — was unknown. She said, “There is now community spread in our state.” At this point we can only speculate, but we should expect the Governor and legislative leaders to meet today (Sunday) and decide what short and long term actions should be implemented to control the spread of the disease in our state.”
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Week Ahead. Subcommittees and committees will resume working on bills passed and sent to them from the other chamber last week. Floor debate will continue with some intensity as we get closer to the second funnel, scheduled to occur on April 2. The Revenue Estimating Conference is scheduled to meet on Friday, March 19. Once that happens and the new revenue estimates are released, the focus will shift quickly 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.