Capitol Report - Week Six 2021
February 22, 2021
By: Paula S. Dierenfeld
Lazer Focused. The first funnel of the 2021 session is still about two weeks away and the lists of scheduled subcommittees on bills are already becoming shorter. COVID-19 might be having an impact on legislators’ interest in giving bills an “airing” that have little chance of going anywhere. For bills to remain alive this session, they must be reported out of their originating committees by the end of next week (March 5) and headed for the Debate Calendar. Appropriations bills, Ways and Means bills, and Government Oversight bills are exempt from the funnels.
* * *
All About the Numbers. The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) is scheduled to meet on March 9 to review its December revenue projections for FY21 and FY22, and to set an initial projection for FY23. Adjustments made by the REC to its FY22 projections will impact decisions the legislature can make regarding next year’s state budget. If the REC determines the state will collect more revenue in FY22 than it projected in December, the legislature is required to use the lower December numbers to develop the FY22 budget. However, if the REC’s new projection for FY22 is lower than its December estimate, the legislature must use the new lower March numbers. The expected opening of three Nebraska casinos later this year has raised concerns about the amount of gaming tax revenues that will be available in the future to fund the Rebuild Infrastructure Fund.
* * *
Quick Shot, Maybe. A couple of bills that are advancing in the House would increase access to COVID-19 vaccinations by allowing additional groups of health care providers to administer the vaccine. HF 528 would allow dentists that have completed training to prescribe and administer flu and COVID vaccines. HSB 175 would allow podiatrists to do the same. HF 547 would require all health care providers that administer vaccines to enroll and report the administration of vaccinations to a statewide immunization registry. As of Saturday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 574,835 vaccinations for the coronavirus have been administered in the state and 131,000 Iowans (4% of the population) have received two doses.
* * *
Saw It Coming. Bills (SF 413 and HF 590) were reported out of the both State Government Committees this past week that would make numerous changes in Iowa’s election laws. The chairs of the Committees, Senator Roby Smith and Representative Bobby Kaufman, said the changes are needed to uphold the integrity of Iowa’s elections and ensure uniformity in election procedures across the state. Among other things, the bills would reduce the number of days that Iowans can vote early from 29 days to 18, reduce the number of days a voter can request an absentee ballot from 120 days to 70, prohibit county auditors from sending absentee ballot request forms to voters without a request from the voters, and prohibit county auditors from setting up satellite voting sites unless petitioned to do so by 100 eligible voters. Also ballot harvesting, i.e. organized efforts by campaigns or political parties to collect and deliver completed absentee ballots, would be banned. A public hearing on the bills is scheduled for Monday, February 22 at 5:00 pm.
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.