Friday, March 16 marked the second funnel deadline, when bills must be passed out of one chamber and then out of committee in the opposite chamber to continue to move forward. It creates a “crunch time” for many lobbyists as they try to ensure their clients’ issues stay alive. With a split legislature (Republican House majority and Democratic Senate majority), this task becomes even more difficult. Not to mention conventional lobbying wisdom always says it’s harder to pass a bill than to kill one. This blog entry gives you a snapshot of select bills that advanced or died this week. There is always a chance bills that have seemingly died can be resuscitated or come back from the dead…before this sounds too much like a horror movie, we’ll move on to the substance of this entry.
First, big issues to survive include: property tax reform, tax increment finance reform (TIF), education reform and mental health reform. (Yes, that’s a lot of reform!) These complex topics remain eligible for discussion this session, and we expect to see further action on these issues in the upcoming weeks.
HF2214—which would ban the ability of cities to use automated traffic enforcement (ATE) cameras to enforce speed limits and red light running--just barely squeezed through the funnel this week, because it was reassigned to the Appropriations Committee. This committee is one not subject to the funnel (along with Ways and Means and Government Oversight). The bill nearly came to the floor Thursday, but when House Democrats (and some Republicans) signaled they would not vote for a ban, the bill was not debated. It remains alive to come back to the floor, or as always, it could be amended on to other legislation. Law enforcement and cities have a keen interest in keeping the ability for local governments to choose to use these cameras as a safety measure. Property and casualty insurers also support the ability for local governments to use ATEs to enforce traffic laws. Some House Republicans (and one very vocal local radio host) continue to push hard for a ban. (Last year, the House passed a bill that would have further regulated ATEs, but not banned them.) A recent Des Moines Register poll shows a narrow split in public opinion on the issue (slightly favoring the ban), and the fact that no agreement has been reached even within the House, shows a similar divide among legislators.
A bill to allow nuclear power generation in Iowa, HF561, came up for a vote again this week in the Senate Commerce Committee after an earlier scheduled committee where the bill was to be considered was cancelled. It passed out of the Committee by one vote, with many democrats on the committee voting against it. It has been controversial in the Senate, since it passed out of the House last year. The bill is now eligible for Senate debate.
Two of the three gun bills we’ve been blogging about took a shot to the heart (HJR2009—constitutional amendment and HF2215-- “stand your ground bill” ) after not making it out of Senate committees, while the resolution (HJR2001) to strike a portion of a rule that would ban hunters from using lead shot to hunt doves remains alive awaiting debate in the Senate.
SF2277, a bill making it legal to create and store infused alcohol (for instance, alcohols used by restaurants or bars infused with fruit or other flavorings) under parameters in the bill, also abruptly died when it did not advance out of House committee this week.
Keep checking our blog as a new segment of session begins to find out the fate of these and other bills!
Thomas E. Stanberry & Jessica S. Harder
Government Relations Report