Week 10 Legislative Update

The 2022 Iowa Legislative Session

Week of March 14, 2022

This Week in the Iowa Legislature

Somehow the second funnel deadline came and went this week. As anticipated, legislators were focused on committee work and things remained relatively quiet and uneventful until the end of the week. The Senate focused solely on committee work and held no floor debate, while the House debated a few noncontroversial bills. It wouldn’t be a typical legislative session if there wasn’t some unexpected controversy.

On Wednesday afternoon the House attempted to amend SF 2139 replacing the bill with two items from the large unemployment and tort reform package, otherwise known as the “Frankenstein bill” that has been lurking the entire session. Rep. Bousselot moved to suspend the rules to consider an amendment which would have limited the liability of commercial vehicles, known as trucker tort reform, and limit the ability of businesses and schools to require COVID vaccinations. In a surprising turn of events, the vote to suspend the rules failed on the floor 48-50. After the failed vote, House leaders deferred the bill and immediately adjourned. The bill, introduced by the Governor, has been a contentious issue in the House Republican caucus for weeks. Leadership conceded the loss puts House Republicans on the record for not having the votes to pass these measures. It is unclear on whether the bill is actually dead or not. As the saying goes, nothing is dead until Sine Die.

Another unusual maneuver was used this week in the House State Government Committee. Chairman Kaufmann offered an amendment to a bill allowing Home Barbering Practice replacing it with language establishing a one-year moratorium on the use of eminent domain by carbon capture pipelines. Similar bills introduced earlier in the session failed to make the funnel deadline. Democrats, who voted against the bill, said their vote was not against the moratorium but they objected to the procedure used by attempting to add it to an unrelated bill. It is unclear if this bill can make it all the way to the Governor’s desk.

DHS Realignment

In other news, this week Director Kelly Garcia from the Department of Human Services announced the agency’s realignment combining with the Department of Public Health to establish the umbrella agency the Department of Health and Human Services. The Alignment Final Change Package will be published on March 24, 2022. Once live, the Director will schedule several stakeholder meetings to walk through new materials and provide space to dialog and answer any questions. The actual implementation work is just beginning and will occur in multiple iterations over the coming months. Stay tuned!

It’s Budget Time

The House has made significant progress in moving the budget process forward. Although the leaders have not released a joint budget target, the House has introduced six of their ten bills and moved them through the subcommittee and committee process making way for floor debate as early as next week. From conversations with Representatives and House staff, we expect the House to introduce the remainder of their budget bills including RIIF, HHS, Education and Standings next week and move them through the subcommittee and committee process.

  • HF 2560 Ag & Natural Resources Appropriations on a vote of 15-6
  • HF 2559 Justice System Appropriations on a vote of 15-6
  • HF 2557 Transportation Appropriations on a vote of 21-0
  • LSB 5002 Economic Development Appropriations on a vote of 15-7

We understand the Senate budget chairs received their individual budget targets this week and are having high level conversations with their House counterparts, but because no joint target has been released, the work will stop there. In the meantime, we will keep you updated on your budget priorities as the process continues to play out this session.

Looking Ahead

With the second funnel in the rearview, floor debate will increase significantly as leaders work toward adjournment in a few weeks. The Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees will continue to meet to address budget and tax policy bills in the coming weeks. The House is expected to start moving budget bills on the floor as leadership from both chambers narrow the list of bills they intend to send to the Governor. Finally, we expected a joint budget target would be released this week, however that didn’t happen indicating there are still differences looming between the chambers. We all hope a budget target can be agreed upon this week to keep things moving along as there is much less work to be completed outside of budget negotiations. There has been talk of an early adjournment, but things slowed down last week signaling an on-time adjournment might be the best they can hope for.

A list of scheduled committees and subcommittees with their virtual access information can be found at the provided link. If you have challenges connecting with the virtual link, you can always call in.