The 2019 Iowa Legislative Session
Week of April 15, 2019
Last week in the Iowa Legislature
Last week was probably the last “normal” week of the session, as legislators are poised to adjourn for the year by this week’s end. They made tremendous progress on the budgets. Each budget bill, except Standings, has passed at least one chamber. And by Tuesday, the House and Senate Republicans finally arrived an agreed overall spending level for FY 20 of $7.643 billion. By Thursday, they also agreed on targets for the individual budgets and the budget chairs from the two chambers were meeting to resolve whatever impasses remain. Except for the Health and Human Services budget and Standings, Monday will likely reveal agreements on every budget that remains.
Competing Property Tax Proposals
The Senate finally revealed its property tax plan last week with a subcommittee on SSB 1260 (Property Tax Growth Limits). The bill passed the Senate Ways & Means Committee Thursday, and the House bill, HF 773, is eligible for floor debate at any time and is on the House Debate Calendar for today. While the two proposals would accomplish the same basic goal of slowing property tax growth, they are different. And those differences may prove too difficult to reconcile in what is likely the final week of the session. Indeed, if the session goes into next week it will probably be because the chambers become determined to pass a property tax bill this year and are compelled to stay longer to jointly agree on the details.
Children’s Mental Health Initiative
On Tuesday, the Senate tackled the highly-anticipated legislation creating a children’s mental health system by passing HF 690 (Children’s MH Services) with a 46-2 vote. This bill establishes the Children’s Behavioral Health System Board and requirements for core behavioral services for children. While legislators were generally supportive of the bill, Democrats expressed concerns about the funding and whether or not enough core services were covered. Then on Wednesday the Senate passed HF 691 (MH/DS Cash Reserve Spending) with a 50-0 vote. This bill makes changes to the excess funds and population thresholds regarding the cash reserve spending by MH regions, delays implementation until 2023, and limits the amount held for cash flow to 40%, which allows counties to amend the MH/DS budget in FY 2019 to recertify the budget if necessary. The legislation passed requires the new children’s mental health services be built into the existing mental health and disabilities system, the budget flexibility will be incredibly important moving forward. Both bills now go to the Governor for her expected signature, as children’s mental health was one of her top priorities for this session.
As mentioned above, this is probably the last week of the 2019 session. Legislators were instructed to pack extra clothes and to plan to work at least through Friday. Something similar happened last year, and they ended up adjourning on a Saturday. Finishing by week’s end is an ambitious goal, but it can be done. The wildcard, however, is property tax reform.
Bills of Interest
Like sessions past, Advocacy Strategies is tracking all bills pertaining to you. Along with this document, please find an attached excel spreadsheet with the bills you have registered for or we are waiting for a declaration. Please use this LINK and enter the bill number to find legislation.
Dates to Note
- May 3: 110th calendar day of the session; legislators’ per diem expires.