The 2019 Iowa Legislative Session
Week of April 8, 2019
Last week in the Iowa Legislature
With the final funnel week behind them, legislators focused mostly on the budget last week. The House spent almost all of Thursday debating the Health and Human Services budget before passing it in the early evening. The Senate passed the Ag and Natural Resources budget Monday and sent it to the House, which moved it through subcommittee and committee to set up floor debate on it this week.
Overall, the House and Senate budget targets and priorities are a little different. Those differences will be resolved in the coming weeks through informal negotiations and, perhaps, conference committees. House Republicans have released budget targets that collectively spend a bit more than the Senate. Negotiations between the two chambers’ leaders and the governor will likely resolve the overall budget targets and the budget subcommittee chairs will fill in the details from there.
Tax policy also remains on the agenda, but it’s completely unclear how that will get resolved. The House Ways & Means Committee advanced HSB 165 (now HF 773) late Tuesday night with a 14-11 vote. The bill imposes a “soft cap” of 2 percent property tax growth on local governments. The bill is 26 pages long and very complicated, reflecting the nature of property taxes generally. The bill is now eligible for consideration on the House floor, but the Senate has yet to release a plan of its own or signal whether it would welcome HF 773. Whether the Legislature has the appetite or collective bandwidth to tackle this complex and controversial issue in 2019 will likely remain unknown until session comes to a close.
Per diem ends on May 3 however legislators are not bound to adjourn that day. They have at least 2 week’s worth of moving paper left before they can adjourn if they had agreement on budget targets and the policy priorities that are left.
This week will look a lot like last week, as budget and tax policy will take most of the attention at the Capitol. Policy bill debates will slow to a trickle and very nearly be finished by week’s end. If the budget bill chart is any indication, we are likely two or three weeks away from the Legislature adjourning for the year. If enough political mass gets behind a property tax reform package, the session could end a little later.
Dates to Note
May 3: 110th calendar day of the session; legislators’ per diem expires.