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Which bills survived, which died as second ‘funnel week’ ends at the Iowa Capitol


Which bills survived, which died as second ‘funnel week’ ends at the Iowa Capitol

Mar 14, 2024 | 8:40 pm ET
By Robin Opsahl
Which bills survived, which died as second ‘funnel week’ ends at the Iowa Capitol
The Iowa Capitol as seen Feb. 7, 2024. (Photo by Kathie Obradovich/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

As lawmakers ended the second “funnel” deadline of the 2024 legislative session, many of the priorities laid out by Republican leadership at the beginning of the session remain in limbo – while many more were taken out of the running for consideration.

Though Republicans hold a trifecta of control at the Iowa State Capitol with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a majority in the House and a supermajority in the Senate, leaders in the two chambers had differing ideas on the path forward for the rest of session.

House Speaker Pat Grassley told reporters Thursday that House Republicans had passed legislation on all of their priorities for the session – on issues like nursing homes, immigration and educational standards, as well as Reynolds’ priorities laid out in January on issues like the state’s Area Education Agencies.

“We laid out several policy bills that we wanted to see get moved through the House, we’re to the point where nearly every one of those have moved through,” Grassley said. “There’s a few left that are obviously Appropriations and Ways and Means issues, but when it comes to bills that we laid out as House Republicans as priorities, we feel that we’ve taken action on almost every single one of those.”

However, many of those bills are no longer up for discussion. This week marked the second “funnel” of the legislative session. Under the deadline, bills must pass floor debate in one chamber and be approved by a committee in the other chamber to remain eligible for consideration.

Many bills passed by the Iowa House were not passed by Senate committees, and several did not receive subcommittee meetings.

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver told reporters he believes “Iowa is in a really good spot, and we don’t need that many bills, in my opinion, to make Iowa strong and to keep Iowa strong.”

“We don’t need to pass 200 bills, 300 bills to keep Iowa strong, and so we’ve only passed 40-some — that’s fine with me,” Whitver said. “And as we look at bills that we want to survive funnel, and that we want to keep working on – those bills are alive. The bills that I think we need as a state are still alive, and we look forward to working on them.”

There are several exceptions to the “funnel” deadline. Bills with spending, tax and government oversight components are exempt from the deadline. Additionally, legislative leaders put bills on the “unfinished business” calendar, allowing them to stay alive past the deadline if both chambers have designated the legislation for further consideration, or if it is attached to another bill that remains eligible.

Lawmakers put more than 100 bills on the “unfinished business” calendar. Bills that did not meet or were not exempt from the “funnel” are considered dead, but there are still ways for lawmakers to revive these measures later in the session. Legislative leaders can bring forward bills as leadership-sponsored bills, and the language in dead bills can be added as amendments to other, surviving legislation.

Your guide to which bills survived the first legislative ‘funnel’ (and which didn’t)

Grassley said he expected several of the measures House Republicans have prioritized that did not receive Senate consideration to come up again in future discussions, as parts of budget negotiations or in other legislation.

“We also feel that there has been some issues that we’ve brought forward at the beginning of session, that we passed over early enough that didn’t see the light of day, that we feel that they need to be continued as part of the ongoing conversations between the House and Senate,” Grassley said.

Democrats: Funnel week was ‘bizarre’

Democrats criticized Republicans in both chambers for lack of action on issues they said are most important to Iowans, such as affordable housing, reproductive health care and public school funding. Senate Minority Leader Pam Jochum said it was one of the “more bizarre funnel weeks” she has been through as a legislator, with House lawmakers passing dozens of bills through floor debate while the Senate has not debated for more than a week.

House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst said in a news conference Thursday that Republicans are not communicating and in “disarray.” The lack of action on many high-profile bills during funnel week does not mean these measures are done for the year, she said, but it means that the process will be less clear for the path moving forward.

“We don’t know sort of what’s going to bubble up, but what it means is that it’s going to be a lot less predictable,” Konfrst said. “Iowans are going to have a little less notice when it comes to what’s going on at the Capitol, and things are going to be rushed through.”

Here’s where some notable bills stand at the end of the second funnel deadline:

What survived:


Food labeling: Senate File 2391 would prohibit Iowa food processors from using words that are typically associated with butchered meat on labels for imitation meat products – those that are made of insects, plants or lab-grown meat. There is an exception for labels that also contain such words as fake, imitation or vegetarian. Violations can incur fines of up to $10,000.

Grain Indemnity Fund: Senate File 2401 would roughly double the fund’s operating balance and will expand its coverage to credit-sale contracts. The fund reimburses farmers for their losses when a state-licensed grain dealer buys their corn or soybeans but goes defunct before paying.


AEAs: Both the House and Senate’s proposals making changes to Iowa’s Area Education Agencies – the state special education providers as well as other general education and media services – were placed on the “unfinished business” calendar in both chambers. Reynolds named as a top priority her proposal allowing school districts to work with other providers or hiring their own staff to meet special education and other school needs. 

Both bills differ significantly from Reynolds’ initial bill. Senate File 2386, an amended version of the governor’s legislation, would create a system in which AEAs would receive 10% of special education funding and 40% of media and general education service funding. School districts would directly receive 90% of special education and 60% of media and general education services funding, and could choose to continue working with the AEAs or find alternative providers. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee but has not been heard on the Senate floor – though it was on the last posted schedule for debate, March 5.

House File 2612 was passed by the House but has not advanced in the Senate. It would require AEAs to continue to be the sole provider of special education services in Iowa, but would create a three-year timeline for school districts to begin working with other providers for media and educational services, in addition to creating a task force to study and make recommendations on AEAs for consideration by lawmakers in the next legislative session.

Community college reporting requirements: House File 2615, as amended, would require community colleges to provide a link to the Iowa student outcomes website on their online pages. School districts would have to provide this link to juniors and seniors interested in postsecondary education options, alongside a report from the Iowa Board of Regents detailing the income and student loan debt of students who have finished degrees at a state university. College and career transition counselors would also be made exempt from supplemental weighting caps for shared operations in school districts.

Community college state aid distribution formula: Senate File 2405, formerly Senate File 2373, would strike the current formula used to determine how state aid to community colleges is distributed and require community college presidents and chancellors to establish the formula each year with approval from at least 10 of the 15 leaders. As amended, the formula cannot allocate funds to a school that is less than what it has received in past years, unless the base funding allocation has gone down. 

Curriculum review: House File 2545 would require the Department of Education to conduct a “comprehensive review” of the state’s high school graduation standards, core curriculum, core content standards and educational standards and recommend policy changes. The bill includes requirements that the department develop statewide programs for literacy and civics education.

Extracurricular activities open to private school students: House File 2467 would allow private-school students to participate in extracurricular activities at a public school, including sports teams, if the private school does not offer those activities. The parents of the student would be responsible for any fees associated with the activity.

Fetal development videos: The Senate Education Committee approved an amended version of  House File 2617 Thursday. The bill would require schools to show students in grades 7-12 videos and graphics on fetal development from fertilization to birth in human growth and development and health classes. The amendment removed a reference to the “Meet Baby Olivia” video, produced by an anti-abortion group, which advocates with medical organizations and reproductive freedom groups said depicts inaccurate medical information and pushes a political, anti-abortion agenda.

Grooming, teacher discipline: Under House File 2487, school districts would be required to report to a state board if they take disciplinary action against licensed employees for “grooming” or abusing a student.

Improving literacy: House File 2618 would train teachers in the “science of reading” approach to literacy instruction and require teachers pass a “foundations of reading” test. The proposal would also have schools notify parents if their child is not proficient in reading by third grade, giving parents the option to hold the student in third grade for a year to obtain proficiency. The bill has not passed either chamber but was moved to the unfinished business calendar in the House.

State supplemental aid: Iowa House lawmakers approved a 3% increase to the state’s per-pupil aid for K-12 schools in February, above the 2.5% rate proposed in Reynolds’ budget. The Senate’s version of the bill, Senate File 2258, is eligible for debate but does not have a target set for state supplemental aid. Lawmakers missed the self-imposed deadline for setting an SSA rate within 30 days of the governor releasing her proposed budget in early February — and Democrats criticized the lack of action by Senate Republicans to fund schools on Thursday, as schools are required to submit their budget proposals by March 15.

Student teaching requirement changes: Senate File 2260 would allow certain students with substitute or paraeducator experience to shorten their student teaching requirements and change requirements for the Last-Dollar Scholarship program. It would also establish a statewide work-based learning network, expand work-based learning programs to outside the school year and create the Workforce Opportunity Fund, which would use $30 million reallocated from the Unemployment Compensation Reserve fund. 

Teacher pay: The Senate AEA bill includes a provision increasing starting salaries for teachers to a $47,500 minimum. House lawmakers passed House File 2630, a separate bill, raising starting salary for teachers to $47,500 in year one of implementation and $50,000 in year two. The House bill also increases pay for educational support staff, such as paraeducators, to a $15 per hour minimum. That bill did not pass a Senate committee but remains eligible for consideration, as it involves a funding component.

Health care

Mental health and substance abuse: House File 2509 and Senate File 2354, are companion bills on the governor’s proposal to establish a Behavioral Health Services System (BHSS) in Iowa, replacing the current Mental Health and Disabilities Services (MHDS) in providing mental health services while bringing in substance abuse and other addiction recovery treatment services. 

The bill would take Iowa’s current 13 mental health and 19 substance abuse regions and consolidate into seven districts for providing care. Disability services would be moved to the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services’ division of disability and aging services.

As the proposals involves state funding, the bills are exempt from the “funnel” deadline. Both chambers have held subcommittee meetings on the legislation but neither has been approved by appropriations committees.

Postpartum Medicaid: Senate File 2251, a priority of the governor’s, would extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for new mothers from 60 days to a year, while limiting eligibility to families with income at or below 215% of the federal poverty line. The bill passed the Senate Feb. 19 and its companion bill, House File 2583 is on unfinished business in the House.


Basic income programs: A bill banning local guaranteed income programs – specifically impacting the UpLift program in central Iowa – remains alive and available for Senate consideration. House File 2319 would also allow the state attorney general to bring local governments to court for not complying with a cease-and-desist letter about prohibited programs.

Boards and commissions: Lawmakers in the House and Senate advanced separate proposals on elimination or consolidation of some of Iowa’s boards and commissions based on recommendations made by the state Boards and Commissions Review Committee. While Senate File 2385 follows the recommendations closely, proposing the merging or cutting of 111 of Iowa’s 256 existing boards, House File 2574 had a narrower scope with 49 boards and commissions up for discussion. Both bills were placed on “unfinished business” calendars in the respective chambers.

Election law: House File 2610 would make several changes to election law in Iowa, including shortening the early voting window by requiring absentee ballots be received by county auditors by 5 p.m. the day before an election and requiring county election commissioners mail absentee ballots no earlier than 22 days before an election. The bill also bans ballot drop boxes and ranked-choice voting, in addition to adding measures limiting ballot challenges to federal candidates. The bill passed the House and was placed on the unfinished business calendar, attached to Senate File 2380.

Eminent domain: House File 2522 would allow those who are subject to pending eminent domain requests to petition a district court judge to decide whether the requests are proper, prior to a final ruling by the Iowa Utilities Board. The bill has not advanced but remains eligible in the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

Foreign land ownership: Senate File 2204 would enhance reporting requirements for land that is owned or leased by foreigners. It passed the House and Senate unanimously and moves next to the governor’s desk.

Gender balance: Senate File 2096 would end the requirement that state boards and commissions include an equal number of men and women. The bill passed both chambers and moves next to the governor’s desk.

Hemp regulation: House File 2605 would make significant changes to the 2019 Iowa Hemp Act. The bill would cap tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) amounts in consumable hemp products at 4 milligrams per serving, and at 10 mg per container. The bill, passed by the House Tuesday and placed on the “unfinished business” calendar in the Senate, would also impose an age restriction of 21 for purchasing products containing THC, require warning labels on the products, and add new rules and penalties related to the possession, sale and manufacture of hemp products.

Storm water regulation: Senate File 455 would prohibit local regulations on stormwater runoff that are more restrictive than current flow rates based on return frequencies of five years. It also would prohibit local regulations related to topsoil preservation, compaction, placement or depth that are more restrictive than requirements set by the Department of Natural Resources and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

After defeating the bill on a narrow vote last week, House lawmakers reconsidered and passed it Monday. The bill returns to the Senate for consideration of an amendment to allow local governments to impose more restrictive regulations, if the local governments pays for the any increased costs of implementation compared to the state or federal standards outlined by the legislation.

Justice and public safety

Arming school staff: House File 2586 allows school personnel who meet training requirements to receive a permit for carrying a firearm on school grounds. The bill encourages school districts with 8,000 or more students to employ a school resource officer or security officer at facilities with students in grades 9 through 12 — though school boards are able to opt out of the provision.

The bill also establishes a School Security Personnel Grant, administered through the Department of Education, that would provide schools with up to $50,000 in matching funds to put toward hiring police or security officers for schools. The bill also indemnifies school staff and districts from civil or criminal liability stemming from the use of “reasonable force” in the workplace.

A separate bill, House File 2652, would create a $3 million grant program for schools to purchase “infrastructure and equipment related to employee permits to carry weapons,” as well as providing schools up to $25,000 for firearm training and stipends for employees who go through trainings. The legislation passed the House Wednesday and remains eligible as an appropriations bill.

Bestiality penalties: House File 2318 expands the definition of sexual abuse of an animal and increase penalties for violations. The bill has been approved by the House and Senate and moves next to the governor’s desk.

Fentanyl-related deaths: House File 2576, approved by the House and passed through the Senate committee process, would make a person who unlawfully supplies an individual with fentanyl or fentanyl-related substances eligible for first-degree murder charge if the person dies due to their consumption of the drug.

Firearm regulation: House File 2556 would allow a judge to assess monetary damages against individuals or political subdivisions that enact local firearm regulations that are stricter than the state’s.

Hands-free cell phones and traffic cameras: Senate File 2337 would prohibit drivers from using cell phones and other electronic devices behind the wheel, except in hands-free mode.  The legislation also would ban the use of traffic cameras for enforcement of speed limits and other roadway laws. The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 13. Although it has not advanced and the House version of the bill failed to pass the first funnel, it remains eligible for consideration on the Senate unfinished business calendar. 

A separate bill, Senate File 2337, which would restrict the use of traffic cameras but not ban them, also passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and remains eligible on unfinished business. 

Illegal immigration: Senate File 2340 would make entry or being found in Iowa an aggravated misdemeanor if the person was denied admission, deported or removed from the U.S., or if they have such an order outstanding. People removed from the country related to certain convictions could face felony charges under the bill. The bill passed the Senate on March 5, and its companion, House File 2567, passed through the House committee process.

Obscene material: House File 2239 would increase the penalties for giving children access to obscene material. Potential incarcerations would increase from one year in jail to two years in prison, and maximum fines would increase from $2,560 to $8,540.

Religious freedom: Senate File 2095, similar to a 1993 federal law, would provide a higher legal standard be used in cases where a person claims that a government action has infringed on their ability to freely practice a religion. Governments would be required to have a compelling interest, and be using the least restrictive means, to uphold an action that would “substantially burden” a person’s religious liberties. The bill has been approved by both chambers and moves next to the governor’s desk.

Natural resources

Lake Panorama: House File 2485 allows large homeowners associations near public lakes to regulate their members’ conduct on those lakes and to place buoys on them. The bill was meant to assist the Lake Panorama Association, which worried a recent court decision will erode its authority. It passed both chambers and was signed by the governor.

What died:


Livestock feedlots: Senate File 2371 would allow operators of open feedlots to dispose of manure under certain conditions if failing to do so risks contaminating the state’s waterways. An early draft of the bill permitted feedlot owners to spread manure on farm fields for long periods of time without state approval. The bill survived the first funnel but did not get approval by the whole Senate.


Citizenship proof for in-state tuition: House File 2320 would require students admitted to Iowa’s community colleges and state universities to provide proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the U.S. to qualify for in-state tuition and fees.

Gender-neutral terms in world language classes: House File 2048 would prohibit the introduction of gender-neutral terms in public and private-school classes teaching a language “that utilizes a grammatical gender system.”

Tuition caps, program changes at state universities: House File 2558, formerly House File 2327, would cap tuition and freeze it for the first four years of an undergraduate student’s enrollment at a state university, as well as codify DEI directives made by the Iowa Board of Regents and bar universities from creating new administrator positions. Two ex-officio, nonvoting members of the state’s general assembly would be added to the board and its meeting schedule and processes for selecting university presidents would change. Community colleges and state universities would also be required to create programs for students working under a registered employer while studying, and explore how to prioritize programs in high-demand fields. 

Health care

Birth control: House File 2584 would allow pharmacists to dispense birth control from behind the pharmacy counter, with various check-ins and self-risk assessments with the patient, for a total of up to 27 months before the patient would be required to see a physician in order to continue the prescription. The bill, proposed by the governor, passed a House committee last month but advanced no further.

Defining ‘sex,’ sex-segregated spaces, birth certificates: House File 2389 proposed defining the terms “male” and “female” in Iowa Code on the basis of a person’s biological reproductive system, and requiring that birth certificates of transgender people list both their sex assigned at birth and after transitioning. The bill would also allow sex-segregated spaces, such as bathrooms, locker rooms and women’s shelters to exclude transgender people on the basis of their sex assigned at birth. The bill received a public hearing but did not advance to the House floor, and was not discussed in the Senate.

Nursing home inspections: House File 2585 would allow the Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals and Licensing (DIAL) to forgo an on-site inspection of a nursing home after a complaint in situations where a complaint is about the same subject as another complaint or facilities self-report in the immediately preceding 90 days, or if DIAL is able to investigate the issue off-site through electronic records and telephone interviews. The bill would also require the department to hold joint training sessions with inspectors and nursing home staff. It passed the House on Feb. 26 but did not advance in the Senate.

Nursing home ‘granny cameras’: House File 2317 would have barred Medicaid-funded nursing homes from prohibiting residents’ families from installing cameras in the rooms of their loved ones to monitor their care.  

Unborn personhood: Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, chose not to bring House File 2575 for consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The legislation, passed by the House, would raise penalties for the nonconsensual ending of a pregnancy while changing language on these crimes from references to the termination of a pregnancy to the “death of an unborn person.”

House Democrats argued during floor debate that the bill could put access to contraception and in vitro fertilization at risk, as unborn personhood language was cited in the Alabama Supreme Court case ruling that put IVF treatments at risk in the state. While Rep. Skyler Wheeler, R-Hull, said the bill would not have an impact on IVF, Zaun told reporters that he tabled the bill because of potential “unintended consequences” related to IVF.

Justice and public safety

Bail for violent offenses: House File 2555 would raise to $100,000, from the current minimum of $10,000, the bond for charges ranging from attempted murder to possession of a firearm by a felon. The bill passed the House Public Safety Committee but did not advance further.

Child support in pregnancy: House File 2363 proposed allowing courts to require fathers to make payments related to medical expenses related to a mother’s pregnancy and the birth of a child born out of wedlock – an expansion of current child support law, which begins when a baby is born. The bill was discussed on the House floor but deferred, following discussions that the bill could potentially force a pregnant woman to take a paternity test in utero – tests which could cause fetal abnormalities or miscarriages.

Eligibility for public assistance, expanded definition of human smuggling: House File 2608 would expand the definition of human smuggling and also require background checks of noncitizen applicants for public assistance. The bill passed the House on March 11 but failed to clear a Senate committee.

Jail booking photos: House File 2309 would allow county jails to withhold photos of those who are arrested until they are convicted, with some exceptions.

Police officer decertification: House File 2597 extends the list of offenses that require decertification by the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. It applies to an officer who twice pleads guilty to or is convicted of driving a vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more, or with a measurable amount of a controlled substance in their blood or urine.

Labor and the workforce

Employer verification of legal residency: Senate File 108 would prohibit Iowa employers from knowingly employing an “unauthorized alien employee,” and would allow complaints to be filed with Iowa Workforce Development against employers in violation of the law. If complaints are verified, IWD could take the employer to district court. The bill passed the Senate with a 30-17 vote on Feb. 28 but did not advance in the House.

Job-search requirements: Senate File 2106 would set the statutorily required number of work searches for the receipt of unemployment benefits at four per week. It also would require Iowa Workforce Development to verify the identity of each claimant before any benefits are paid out. The bill would essentially bring Iowa’s state law into alignment with existing practices and administrative rules that already require claimant identification and four job searches per week. The bill passed the Senate Feb. 28 but has not advanced in the House. A companion bill, House File 2524 passed a committee last month but has not been taken up by the full House.

Natural Resources and Environment

Deer depredation: House File 2484 would expand the timeframe to use special licenses to kill deer that damage crops and trees. It passed the House but stalled in a Senate subcommittee over fears that it would affect youth hunting.

State Government

Artificial intelligence in election materials: House File 2549 would add criminal charges for the creation of campaign materials that involve false representations of candidates and issues that could impact voting at an election. The bill also would require campaign materials to include disclosures on the use of AI to generate content included and if AI-made content is “materially deceptive” — showing a candidate saying or doing something that did not happen. The bill passed the House 93-1 on March 6 but did not clear a Senate committee.

Private CPAs conducting state audits: A Senate proposal that would have allowed state agencies to hire outside Certified Public Accountants to conduct state audits instead of the state auditor was not brought for consideration by the House State Government Committee this week. Rep. Michael Bergan, R-Dorchester, said in a subcommittee meeting Tuesday that there were concerns about whether Senate File 2311 would result in a greater fiscal impact than intended.

Public lands: Senate File 2324 would bar the Iowa Department of Natural Resources from obtaining new land at auction or from not-for-profit organizations that obtained the land at auction. It passed the Senate but stalled in the House.

Union recertification: Senate File 2374 would require the decertification of public employee bargaining units if the government employer fails to provide a list of eligible employees to the Public Employee Relations Board within 10 days of receiving written notice of intent to conduct a certification election. The bargaining unit or bargaining representative could avoid decertification by petitioning the court to compel the government to provide the employee list. The bill passed the Senate Workforce Committee but did not advance further.


Parking meters: House File 2601 would require parking meters to allow the use of a parking space by any user for the duration of the time purchased, regardless of whether the person who paid for the parking is occupying the space. It would also require meters, kiosks, or internet. The bill passed the House 52-42 on March 6 but failed to clear a Senate committee.

Kathie Obradovich, Jared Strong, Brooklyn Draisey and Clark Kauffman contributed to this report.

Correction: This story was updated to reflect that the teacher pay bill remains eligible for consideration, as it involves an appropriations component.