Week 12 Legislative Update

The 2022 Iowa Legislative Session  

Week of March 28, 2022

This Week in the Iowa Legislature

Another week of lengthy caucus meetings and late-night debate is behind us. Lawmakers debated a handful of outstanding policy bills in each chamber this week sending them down to the Governor or back to the opposite chamber for final consideration. Budget negotiations continue along with what we hear are contentious discussions on which policy priorities will pass before Sine Die. Lawmakers wrapped up the week on a positive note recognizing Pioneer Lawmakers which celebrates those lawmakers, longtime lobbyists, or Capitol reporters who have served the State of Iowa.

 

Education Proposals Take Center Stage

This week the House and Senate passed competing versions of the Governor’s school and curriculum transparency bills. In a late-night debate session Tuesday, the House passed their transparency proposal (HF 2577) which would require public and charter schools to publish course syllabi, a list of library books, and instructional materials online for parents to view. House Republicans amended the bill to give a week for teachers to post materials to ensure students could still learn about current events in real time. Then, on Wednesday the Senate amended the Governor’s overall education package (SF 2369) to include the ‘Parents Bill of Rights’ they passed earlier this session with more stringent transparency provisions than the House. It also includes the Governors Student First Scholarships proposal which would provide up to 10,000 Iowa students scholarships from public school funding to attend the nonpublic school of their choice. It is understood House Republicans do not have the votes to pass the Student First Scholarship proposal. Democrats vehemently opposed both of these proposals which passed on party lines. Now, the House and Senate continue negotiations on the final education transparency package as it is a priority for the Republican base.

 

Bottle Bill Back Again

That’s right, the Bottle Bill is back for consideration by the legislature yet again. As in years past, the House and Senate started this session with competing Bottle Bill proposals, but it would seem legislators are closer than ever before on a compromise. This could be due to a recent Des Moines Register poll finding 84% of Iowans support the Bottle Bill. On Wednesday the Iowa Senate debated and passed their Bottle Bill proposal (SF 2378) in a 31-18 vote. Senator Schultz, the bill’s floor manager, argued the Senate Republicans’ proposal was the compromise which could finally become law and save the state’s current redemption centers. Senate Democrats disagreed arguing the bill would lead to the death of the bottle bill system as we know it. The proposal increases the handling fee for redemption centers from 1 cent to 3 cents per beverage container and would allow grocery stores to opt out of taking the containers starting next summer. The competing House proposal (HF 2571) was set to be debated on the floor a couple different times this week, but negotiations on the final bill continue between stakeholders and the two chambers.

 

Budget Process

The House continued to make progress on the budget process this week. They have passed all their budgets out of committee except the Standings bill. The House moved their education budget over to the Senate after a late-night debate Wednesday. On the other side of the Rotunda, the Senate began assigning the House budget bills to their respective subcommittees, but they have yet to release their targets. We hear negotiations are continuing on a final joint budget target.

Below is the updated chart outlining each individual budget bill, its number, and where it is in the overall process. This chart will be updated each week until the legislature adjourns.

Bill Number Department Status House Target
HF 2565 Admin & Reg Passed HOUSE 3/24  $50.2 million
HF 2560 Ag & Natural Resources Passed HOUSE 3/23 $54.1 million
HF 2564 Economic Development Passed HOUSE 3/24  $49.4 million
HF 2575 Education Passed HOUSE 3/29 $1 billion
HF 2578 Health & Human Services Passed HOUSE APPROPS 3/28 $2.1 billion
HF 2558 Judicial Branch Passed HOUSE 3/22 $200.6 million
HF 2559 Justice Systems Passed HOUSE 3/22 $633.8 million
HF 2579 Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF/TIC) Passed HOUSE APPROPS 3/29 $171.7 million
HF 2557 Transportation Passed HOUSE 3/22 $416.1 million
N/A Standings N/A  

 

Looking Ahead

No news is no news these days! Negotiations between the House and the Senate on final policy priorities and an overall budget target have drastically slowed. Some lawmakers continue to look optimistically to the week before Easter for possible final adjournment, but there are whispers they could continue negotiations into late April. As the stalemate between the two chambers continues, the list of policy bills likely to be considered before adjournment only continues to narrow.