Week 2 Legislative Update

Legislative Update

The 2021 Iowa Legislative Session

Week of January 18, 2021

This week in the Iowa Legislature

Despite having Monday off for MLK Day, legislators were still very busy with a full slate of committee and subcommittee meetings this week. On Wednesday morning, lawmakers, staff, and members of the public were greeted by enhanced security measures due to concerns over potential protests or violent actions regarding the Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. No such protests arose and the peaceful transition of power occurred without incident.

Both chambers saw a large influx of bill introductions this week and we can expect increased committee action next week. The House debated and passed their first bill of the session, HR 3, House Rules which is typically a noncontroversial bill. The bill was passed on party lines, with a vote of 55-35, while ten members abstained from voting. Due to the pandemic-related changes in the bill, representatives of the House debated for around two hours, and numerous amendments were proposed before the resolution passed.

Two controversial bills caught the attention of legislators and the media this week. The House Judiciary Committee approved HSB 41 No Right to Abortion on a 12-7 vote, which proposes an amendment to the Iowa Constitution that the state recognizes no right to abortion. On Wednesday the Senate introduced its companion SJR 2.  The lead sponsor of the resolution is Senate President Jake Chapman, along with 28 other Republican co-sponsors. The House Public Safety Committee passed HSB 9 Firearm Rights on a 13-6 vote, which proposes an amendment to the Iowa Constitution over gun rights that places strict scrutiny on any potential restrictions. If this General Assembly approves the amendment, the public will have the opportunity to formally vote on it during the 2022 election.

Special Election for Senate District 41

The special election for Senate District 41 to replace Senator Miller-Meeks is on Tuesday, January 26. The Democratic candidate is Mary Stewart and the Republican candidate is Adrian Dickey. Currently, the district has a registration advantage for the Democratic Party, but Republicans won in the previous two State Senate elections. The district trended Republican between the 2012 and 2020 presidential elections as well.

Looking Ahead

We are expecting both chambers to continue to be productive with a full committee and subcommittee schedule this first full week of the legislature. A list of scheduled committees and subcommittees with their virtual access information can be found at the link above. As more information becomes available or changes, we will keep you updated on how you can access legislators and participate in the process while in-person access remains limited.

Both chambers have taken note of the Governor’s request to move quickly on legislation requiring a return to in-person learning. The Senate is expected to caucus on the Governor’s education bills this week and take up SSB 1064 on the floor. Speaker Grassley said that although there are differences in the House and Senate bills it is a priority for his caucus and that the bill could come up this week as well.

Dates to Note

  • February 12: Final day for individual bill requests
  • March 5: First funnel deadline (Friday of the 8th week)
  • April 2: Second funnel deadline (Friday of the 12th week)
  • April 30: 110th calendar day of the session; legislators’ per diem expires