The 2019 Iowa Legislative Session
Week of April 1, 2019
Last week in the Iowa Legislature
The second funnel week is over, and hundreds of bills are now ineligible for further consideration by the Legislature until the 2020 session. The House and Senate worked quickly to pass bills over to the other chamber early in the week and then basically focused exclusively on committee work Wednesday and Thursday. The first funnel week wipes out most of the session’s riffraff, but the second takes away many legislators’ true priorities and (in some cases) the governor’s. An example of the latter occurred Thursday afternoon when the Senate Judiciary Committee pulled Governor Reynolds’ proposal to restore voting rights for rehabilitated felons. A reminder that not even a Republican governor gets everything from a Legislature controlled by her own party.
The voting proposal wasn’t the only high-profile bill to meet its demise last week. Others include: a proposal to reinstate the death penalty, fetal homicide, E-verify for employment, Medicaid work requirements, a constitutional amendment against abortion and bills to regulate or ban traffic cameras.
Bills still living include: solar tariffs, unemployment reform, land acquisitions from the State Revolving Fund, judicial nominating reform and children’s mental health.
The only extraordinary thing about last week was that budget bills were moving. That is rare to see during funnel week, but the House and Senate Republicans are fighting a low-profile skirmish over how much to spend on a handful of key budgets. Unable to agree on spending bills in advance, the chambers are forced to either work them through the committee process now or delay further and adjourn well past their per diem. With the scope of bills dramatically narrowed, the budget will dominate the rest of the session—especially if the House and Senate remain at loggerheads.
Budget and tax policy will consume most of the bandwidth at the Capitol. Policy bills will slow down dramatically in the chambers, especially after these next few weeks as they clear their respective debate calendars. Policy committees are done considering legislation for the session. In the House, they’re totally closed down. The Senate’s may meet to consider gubernatorial appointments, but nothing else.
Dates to Note
- May 3: 110th calendar day of the session; legislators’ per diem expires.