The 2021 Iowa Legislative Session
Week of February 22nd, 2021
This Week in the Iowa Legislature
This past week was different than previous years pre-funnel weeks with the pace of subcommittees and committees slowing in both chambers, allowing for more floor debate. Despite this slower pace, committees were still able to advance 25 bills for floor consideration. Lawmakers will spend the next few days ensuring their priorities pass both subcommittee and committee before Friday’s funnel deadline.
On Tuesday Governor Reynolds signed two education funding bills. The first being the supplemental funding increase of 2.4% for the 2021-2022 school year and the other provides COVID-19 funding to school districts that offered in-person learning during the pandemic.
On the national front, former IA Governor Tom Vilsack will serve his second term as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate in a bipartisan 92-7 vote this week. Vilsack previously served in this role for eight years during the Obama Administration.
Voting Process Bill Passes
Following Monday’s public hearing, both chambers debated and passed legislation changing Iowa’s voting processes. The legislation moved through the process very quickly, having only been introduced last week. The bill makes several changes including limiting absentee ballot drop-off locations to one ballot box, shortening early and absentee voting periods, establishing misdemeanor and felony offenses for failure to adhere to election guidance, and an amendment was added to change Iowa’s poll closing time from 9:00pm to 8:00pm. The bill now goes to Governor Reynolds for her signature.
IDPH Launches COVID-19 Vaccine Website
On Friday the Iowa Department of Public Health launched Vaccinate.Iowa.Gov, a website to provide information on vaccine priority groups and eligibility, resources for Iowa senior citizens, and a location tool to find nearby vaccine providers. Additionally, in collaboration with 211 a vaccine guidance call-in service will be available to Iowans 65 and older starting in early March to help with the appointment scheduling process.
The First Legislative Funnel Week is here! As of Friday (3/5) all bills, other than appropriations and tax policy bills, will need to be passed out of committee in order to be considered for the rest of the session. This is typically by far the busiest time at the Capitol, however, nothing has been typical this session. Several subcommittees are already scheduled to get ahead of the busy week as they work quickly to get bills to their full committees. Those full committee meetings will be long, with extensive closed-door discussions among members to internally debate bills and decide whether to vote them through. The committees’ public business will take a long time also, as bills will flood their agendas. To stay up to date on scheduled committees and subcommittees and their virtual access information, follow this link.
There is no floor debate or budget hearings scheduled for this week. Legislators’ extracurricular activity will be at a minimum as everybody clamors to get their bills through this important deadline. Please be prepared for surprises and ready to respond on any bill that may be introduced and fast tracked this week. Anything goes as policymakers try to beat the first deadline. Your Key Initiatives section will surely be bountiful next week, and we will update your tracking to reflect bills alive following the first funnel.
Dates to Note
- 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