Here’s a look at which bills survived the second ‘funnel’ deadline and which ones didn’t
Many major bills survived the second “funnel” deadline this week at the Iowa Capitol, but Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate hit points of contention on issues like education and liability limits.
Republicans came together to pass priority legislation like private school scholarships, a ban on gender-affirming care for minors and government reorganization. In the final week of March, many bills needed to pass a committee deadline by Thursday to remain eligible for debate. The chambers’ different approaches to certain topics showed through that process: the House made major amendments to bills like the governor’s education proposal and trucking liability limits and the Senate did not hold meetings on the House’s pipeline bill.
Further disagreements between the chambers may be on the horizon. House Republicans released a budget proposal $50 million above the Senate’s and Gov. Kim Reynolds’ targets with hopes of funding programs to support Iowa nursing home and mental health providers. Legislative leaders said one of their 2023 goals is making property tax changes, but the Senate and House’s proposals on how to change the system differ greatly.
Budgets and bills with a spending or tax component are not subject to the funnel deadline. While lawmakers will have more discussions on taxes and appropriations in the coming weeks, there are still plenty of policy bills that survived this week’s deadline up for discussion, with more than 100 bills placed on the “unfinished business” calendar Thursday. And legislation that died in the funnel still could be resurrected through amendments to surviving bills, as well as come up again as a leadership-sponsored bill.
Here’s where some of high-profile proposals stand following the second funnel:
Parental rights: Gov. Kim Reynolds “parental rights” bill, Senate File 496, passed the Senate floor and has advanced through the House committee process in the days before the “funnel” deadline. The House Education Committee amended the legislation to include proposals discussed in other bills on LGBTQ+ topics in classroom materials, book challenges and parental notification if school staff believe a child is transgender. In its current form, the bill prohibits books available in school libraries if they contain “explicit” visual or written depictions of sex acts, bans material and instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation from K-6 classrooms, and requires schools inform parents if a child requests socially transitioning at school.
School requirements: Students would be required to take fewer arts and second language classes to graduate under Senate File 391, which remains available for consideration in the Senate after passing the House with an amendment. The bill also allows teachers to instruct multiple sequential units of a subject at the same time, in the same classroom and limits non-online schools to 30 hours or five days of online instruction per school year.
Teacher accreditation: House File 614, which allows out-of-state teachers to be more easily credentialed in Iowa, also remains eligible for consideration in the Senate following its House passage.
Liability limits: The governor has already signed medical malpractice liability limits into law, and similar limits on cases involving commercial motor vehicles are on the “unfinished business” calendar in the Senate. Senate File 228 was passed by the Senate in February, but the House sent it back after raising the $2 million cap to $5 million for noneconomic damages in lawsuits against trucking companies whose employees caused injuries or deaths while on the job.
Fentanyl: The Senate placed House File 595, one of the governor’s proposals, on the “unfinished business” calendar. The bill, which passed the Iowa House earlier in March, would increase penalties for the manufacture, distribution and possession of drugs containing fentanyl, with higher sentences when the use of those drugs result in death or injury.
Child pornography: Penalties would rise for people convicted of crimes related to child exploitation and pornography through House File 646. The bill was placed on the calendar with its companion, Senate File 84, which passed the Senate with unanimous support in early March.
Brady-Giglio: House File 631 unanimously passed a measure to keep the official procedure codified in 2022 in place for officers whose names are placed on a list for their credibility being in question over complaints of misconduct, excessive force or discrimination. The bill remains available for consideration in the Senate.
Cellphones in vehicles: After years of stalled debates, Iowa lawmakers may pass a hands-free driving bill in 2023. Senate File 547, which requires drivers to only use phones in voice-activated or hands-free modes while operating a vehicle, was approved by the Senate and by House committee.
To-go alcohol: Bills that would require drivers to stow to-go alcohol containers from restaurants and bars in their trunks survived the second funnel. House File 433 and Senate File 401 were placed on the “unfinished business” calendars in both chambers.
Firearms in vehicles: Measures allowing gun owners to leave loaded weapons in parked cars at businesses, prisons, schools and colleges, and other locations, House File 654 and Senate File 543, were also placed on the “unfinished business” calendars.
Drones: Restriction on how close drones can fly to homes and livestock facilities remain up for consideration through Senate File 520 and House File 572.
Subpoena limits: “Fishing expeditions” that limit witness cooperation would be limited under House File 644, a bill that passed the House and was placed on “unfinished business” in the Senate.
Birth control: While the governor’s health care omnibus proposal also included an over-the-counter birth control, an independent birth control measure, Senate File 326, is safe having passed the Senate advanced out of the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Midwifery: Advocates say House File 265, a bill establishing a midwife licensure process in Iowa, could help address the maternal health care shortage in Iowa. The bill is eligible for debate having cleared the House and the Senate committee process.
Child labor: The House and Senate’s child labor bills, House File 647 and Senate File 542, were placed on the “unfinished business” calendars Thursday, keeping them eligible for further discussion despite not yet being debated on the floor. Both versions passed through the committee process with lawmakers recommending amendments after debating issues like workplace safety for 16- and 17-year-olds serving alcohol at night.
Asset tests: Iowans receiving public benefits would be subject to new asset tests and income limits through Senate File 494, which cleared the Senate and the House Appropriations Committee Thursday. The new limits and verification requirements could remove 8,000 Medicaid recipients and 2,800 SNAP recipients from the programs because of reporting discrepancies, the Legislative Services Agency reported, which advocates said will impact Iowans legitimately in need.
State auditor: New restrictions on information the State Auditor’s Office can obtain during its investigations received a House committee’s support on Thursday. However, the committee amended Senate File 478 to make exceptions for investigations that involve embezzlement and theft. Committee members said the bill might be further amended to include fraud. The bill passed the Senate earlier in March.
Investment of public funds: Investment of public funds could not be managed through firms that account for “environmental, social and governance factors” when making investments through Senate File 507. The bill, sent back to the Senate after a House amendment, is on the “unfinished business” calendar.
Chinese investments: Public funds would also be subject to restrictions in companies owned or controlled by the Chinese government through Senate File 418, approved by the House Commerce Committee Thursday. Some legislators brought up concerns that the bill could impact trade with the country, but supporters said fields like agriculture and computer chip manufacturing would not be affected.
Dog “breed bans”: Companion bills Senate File 476 and House File 651, bills, prohibiting cities or counties from enacting “breed bans” to restrict dog ownership based on the animal’s perceived breed, survived as “unfinished business.”
Nuisance animals: Farmers would be allowed to kill certain animals deemed a nuisance to crops and livestock through House File 317 which passed the House and is on the calendar for later consideration with its companion Senate File 358.
Raw milk: Those with herds of 10 or fewer dairy cows would be allowed to sell raw milk directly to a consumer under Senate File 315, which got committee support in the House on Thursday. It cleared the Senate about a week earlier. The milk transactions cannot take place where retail food is sold.
What didn’t survive
Pipelines: While House Republicans’ pipeline proposal passed with bipartisan support in March, House File 565 will not survive the “funnel” deadline as the Senate Commerce Committee did not hold meetings on the bill this week.
Public lands: A bill that would have prioritized the maintenance of public parks and recreational trails over the creation of new ones did not get a needed committee vote to survive the deadline. Senate File 516 passed the Senate but stalled in the house after getting support from two subcommittees. Detractors feared it would limit public land acquisitions.
Death penalty: While Senate File 357, a bill reinstating the death penalty, passed through the Senate committee process, it did not meet the “funnel” deadline. The legislation proposed allowing the death penalty in cases where a minor is kidnapped, raped and murdered.
Judicial nominating: A move to give the governor a larger say in district judge nominations did not advance through the House, and has not been placed on the calendar for later consideration. The Senate approved Senate File 171 in February, which proposes taking the most senior judge in a judicial district out of the district judicial nominating commissions where they now serve as chair, a similar change to what was adopted for statewide judicial nominating commissions in 2019.
Victim restitution: While the Senate placed Senate File 522, a bill curtailing restitution requirements for people who kill their abusers on the “unfinished business” calendar, its companion House File 594 did not make the cut.
Window tint: A proposal allowing drivers to affix darker tint to their front windows under Senate File 491 did not receive a hearing on the Senate floor or get House consideration.
Gender affirming care: Iowa minors receiving gender-affirming care have less than six months before their doctors are no longer able to provide treatment for gender dysphoria, with Reynolds signing Senate File 538 into law March 22. Health care providers can still refer their patients to providers in other states to continue receiving gender-affirming care.
Bathroom ban: Schools had to immediately stop allowing transgender students to use the bathroom corresponding with their gender identity with Senate File 482 signed into law in March. People can no longer use a bathroom or facility designated for a gender that differs from the one they were assigned at birth. If a student is not comfortable with the bathroom corresponding with their designated gender, parents must submit a request for a child to be able to use a single-use alternative facility if needed.
Private school scholarships: Reynolds signed House File 68 into law in January, establishing an education savings account program giving K-12 students an account of roughly $7,600 in state funds to use for private school tuition and associated costs. New York-based education technology company Odyssey is set to administer the program, which will kick off in the 2023-24 school year.
Agency reorganization: The governor’s massive agency restructuring bill was approved with few changes through both chambers, despite Democrats offering dozens of amendments calling for reversals to changes they said will hurt Iowans using government services as Iowa’s system of agencies consolidates from 37 to 16. Senate File 514 awaits Reynolds’ signature.
Rural Emergency Hospitals: Iowa has a state licensure process to receive the federal “Rural Emergency Hospital” (REH) designation through House File 75, signed into law Wednesday. REH facilities would only provide emergency room and outpatient services, but be eligible for more Medicare reimbursements as well as a monthly facility payment.