Iowa 2021 Legislative Report - Week 12

Dentons Davis Brown

Dentons Davis Brown

In Week 12, the Iowa Legislature passed through the second funnel and Rita Hart dropped her contest of the election results. The Governor has signed over three dozen bills.

The close of the twelfth week brought the close of the second legislative funnel.  This legislative milestone narrows the policy discussion for the remainder of session.  Going forward, only bills that have advanced through one chamber and through committee in the opposite chamber can be considered in addition to appropriations bills and ways and means bills.  Effectively, committee work on policy has come to completion for the legislative session.  Senate committees will continue to meet to consider Governor appointments, though that work is slated to be completed by the end of week 14 (April 15). 

Next week will bring a flurry of floor action, as the Senate will consider House bills and the House will consider Senate bills.  The 110th calendar day of session falls on April 30.  The legislature is not required to adjourn sine die by that date, but the per diem payments for legislators end on the 110th calendar day. 

Going forward, the emphasis will be on appropriations (and taxes).  We expect consideration of the tax proposals (Tax Bill SF576–accelerating the income tax triggers/phasing out the inheritance tax–and Property Tax Reform SF576) to be a significant portion of the shut-down conversation and final budget.  We have not yet seen budget bills released by either chamber, but the Senate has released an overall target of $7.99 billion ($110 million less than the Governor’s proposed budget).  In a typical year, work on the budget may take two to three weeks to complete, so the legislature is still on pace to finish session on time.  Last year, due to the delays imposed by the pandemic, the legislature passed one large omnibus budget bill during an eleven-day session in June rather than separate budget bills.

Two Governor priorities advanced this week.  Broadband Grants (HF848) passed the House 94-0 on Monday.  The bill will help the state achieve the goal of connecting all of Iowa to high-speed broadband although it merely provides the policy related to broadband service and the grant program, it does not allocate the funding for broadband. The House Ways and Means Committee approved the Governor’s Renewable Fuel bill (HSB185) on Thursday after amending the bill with a strike and replace amendment. The original bill restricted the sale of gasoline with an ethanol blend; the amended bill loosens those restrictions but includes a phase-out of non-ethanol fuels. The House and Senate now have two different versions of the Renewable Fuel proposal.

Bills that survived the second funnel:

Just this week, the following four bills advanced out of the Senate Education Committee, making them alive and eligible for further consideration this session.  These education bills continue to be a hot topic this session:

  • Racism Training (HF802) — Establishes requirements for training on racism and sexism in schools and colleges and state and local government, including prohibiting teaching that Iowa is fundamentally racist or sexist.
  • College Free Speech (HF744) — Requires the Regents and community colleges to develop policies for protecting 1st Amendment rights and free speech.
  • Qualified Supplemental Appropriation (HF439) — Allocates state money (about $30 million) to K-12 schools to offset costs of COVID-19 in-person learning.  This funding is only available to those schools that complied with Governor Reynolds’ mandate that schools return to in-person learning. The number of in-person instruction days between August 10 and January 29 will be used to calculate supplemental appropriation.
  • Charter Schools (HF813) — Establishes new provisions on charter schools, allowing the establishment of a charter school by founding groups under a school board, or under the State Board of Education.

Other bills that remain eligible for consideration:

  • PPP Loans (SF364) — Exempt business PPP loans/federal jobless benefits from state taxation.
  • Tax Bill (SF576) — Accelerates the income tax triggers and phases out inheritance tax.
  • Property Tax Reform (SF587) — Revamps mental health funding and cuts property taxes.
  • Tech Censorship (SF580/HF633) — Removes state incentives to big tech due to social media censorship.
  • “Back the Blue” (SF534) — Enhanced police protections and penalties for certain crimes.
  • Medical Malpractice/Trucking Accidents (SF537/HF772) — caps medical malpractice and trucking mishap awards at $1 million.
  • Bottle Bill (SF470) — Revamps Iowa’s bottle redemption law and allows grocery stores to opt out.
  • Number of Children at Daycare Centers (HF260)/Childcare Workforce Matching Grants (HF301/HF302) — Childcare bills that would expand access to and affordability of child care (GOP priority this session).

A number of the Governor’s proposals survived the legislative funnel:

  • Affordable Housing (SSB1142/HF178) — Governor’s proposal to expand affordable housing.
  • Broadband (SF390/HF848) — Governor’s plan to expand broadband grant program.
  • Ethanol Expansion (SF481/HSB185) — Governor’s plan to expand ethanol.

Bills that died in the funnel:

  • School Vouchers (SF159) — provides state-funded “student first” scholarships to private-school families.
  • Compensation of Student Athletes (SF245) — authorizes student-athletes to profit from the use of their name, image, and likeness.
  • Vaccine Requirement (SF555) — bars employers from requiring Covid-19 vaccinations.
  • University Tenure (HF490/SF41) — ends faculty tenure at regent universities.
  • Defunding the Police (SF479) — reduces state funds for cities/counties that “defund” the police.
  • Discharge of a Sentence (HF818)/Felon Voting Rights amendment (HJR11) — defines when a sentence is discharged and voting rights can be restored/restores rights for eligible felons.
  • Executive Order Override (HF815) — allows override of a presidential executive order.
  • Mental Health Telehealth (HF294) — requires mental health insurance parity for telehealth services.
  • Childcare Reimbursement Rates (HF292)/Dependent Care Tax Credit (HF230) —  expands access to and affordability of child care (GOP priority this session).

Cedar Rapids Gazette journalist Rod Boshart published a summary of bills that are dead and alive. Read his full list on the Gazette’s site.

Executive Branch

Governor Reynolds signed six bills on Friday, April 2, including HF756 Weapons Matters.  To date, the Governor has signed three dozen bills passed by the 89th General Assembly into law.  The Governor made the following statement upon the signing of HF756:

“Today I signed legislation that protects the 2nd Amendment rights of Iowa’s law-abiding citizens while still preventing the sale of firearms to criminals and other dangerous individuals. This law also takes greater steps to inform law enforcement about an individual’s mental illness helping ensure firearms don’t end up in the wrong hands. We will never be able to outlaw or prevent every single bad actor from getting a gun, but what we can do is ensure law-abiding citizens have full access to their constitutional rights while keeping Iowans safe.”


Rita Hart ended her contest to Iowa’s Second Congressional District election.  Rita Hart, a former State Senator, lost to U.S. Representative Miller-Meeks by six votes; Hart contended that 22 additional ballots should have been counted.  Miller-Meeks has been seated and representing the Second Congressional District of Iowa since January. 

Bill Bill Title Date Passed Governor Signature Effective
SF160 A bill for an act relating to temporary in-person and remote learning instruction and instructional time requirements for school districts and accredited nonpublic schools and including effective date provisions. (Formerly SSB1064) 1/28/2021 1/29/2021 1/29/2021
SF269 A bill for an act relating to public school funding by establishing the state percent of growth and the categorical state percent of growth for the budget year beginning July 1, 2021, modifying provisions relating to the regular program state cost per pupil, modifying provisions relating to the property tax replacement payment and the transportation equity payments, and including effective date provisions. (Formerly SSB1159) 2/17/2021 2/23/2021 2/23/2021
SF284 A bill for an act relating to financial and regulatory matters by making appropriations for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020 and including effective date provisions. (Formerly SSB1162) 2/18/2021 2/23/2021 2/23/2021
HF200 A bill for an act relating to the military code and duty performed by a member of the United States coast guard. (Formerly HSB43) 2/3/2021 3/8/2021 7/1/2021
HF231 A bill for an act relating to a special sentence for sexual abuse committed during a burglary. (Formerly HSB18) 2/17/2021 3/8/2021 7/1/2021
HF232 A bill for an act relating to the crime of disorderly conduct and making penalties applicable. (Formerly HSB29) 2/9/2021 3/8/2021 7/1/2021
HF235 A bill for an act relating to service charges on consumer credit transactions. (Formerly HSB69) 2/9/2021 3/8/2021 7/1/2021
HF283 A bill for an act creating the criminal offense of defrauding a drug or alcohol test and providing penalties. (Formerly HSB22) 2/17/2021 3/8/2021 7/1/2021
HF308 A bill for an act relating to eligibility requirements for students under the senior year plus program and including effective date and applicability provisions. (Formerly HSB110) 2/23/2021 3/8/2021 3/8/2021
HF386 A bill for an act striking certain reporting requirements related to nonprofit school organizations established by school districts. (Formerly HSB107) 2/17/2021 3/8/2021 7/1/2021
HF418 A bill for an act relating to property tax levies, exemptions, classifications, assessment limitations, and administration, and including effective date and applicability provisions. (Formerly HSB93) 2/23/2021 3/8/2021 1/1/2022
SF130 A bill for an act relating to a temporary exception to a limitation on compensation for a member of a board of directors of a school corporation and including effective date provisions. (Formerly SSB1041) 2/17/2021 3/8/2021 3/8/2021
SF173 A bill for an act relating to trusts, including requirements for certifications of trust and the general order of abatement. (Formerly SSB1012) 2/16/2021 3/8/2021 7/1/2021
SF231 A bill for an act regarding driving privileges of persons issued a special minor’s driver’s license and making penalties applicable. (Formerly SF79) 2/16/2021 3/8/2021 7/1/2021
SF239 A bill for an act relating to proper parties in causes of actions following the death of persons entitled or liable to such causes of actions and including applicability provisions. (Formerly SSB1009) 2/16/2021 3/8/2021 7/1/2021
SF240 A bill for an act relating to the creation, administration, and termination of custodial trusts. (Formerly SSB1016) 2/10/2021 3/8/2021 7/1/2021
SF285 A bill for an act relating to suspension of a student’s participation in the all Iowa opportunity scholarship program. (Formerly SSB1068) 2/17/2021 3/8/2021 7/1/2021
SF314 A bill for an act relating to approval of executive branch employee travel claims. (Formerly SSB1119) 2/23/2021 3/8/2021 7/1/2021
SF343 A bill for an act relating to authorized access to certain confidential records by employees of the department of corrections, a judicial district department of correctional services, and the board of parole. (Formerly SSB1102) 2/17/2021 3/8/2021 7/1/2021
SF413 A bill for an act relating to the conduct of elections, including absentee ballots and voter list maintenance activities, making penalties applicable, and including effective date and applicability provisions. (Formerly SSB1199) 2/24/2021 3/8/2021 3/8/2021 *Applicability date: 1/1/22
HF560 A bill for an act relating to financial assurance instruments and surety bonds required for collecting, processing, or transporting waste tires, and making penalties applicable. (Formerly HSB177) 3/10/2021 3/22/2021 7/1/2021
SF129 A bill for an act relating to specialty areas, service commitment area distance requirements, and practice-related requirements under the rural Iowa primary care loan repayment program. (Formerly SSB1042) 2/16/2021 3/22/2021 7/1/2021
SF232 A bill for an act relating to notice and reclamation requirements for abandoned vehicles taken into custody by a police authority or private entity. (Formerly SSB1025) 3/9/2021 3/22/2021 7/1/2021
SF235 A bill for an act relating to the denial and contest of probate claims. (Formerly SSB1037) 3/8/2021 3/22/2021 7/1/2021
SF261 A bill for an act authorizing the college student aid commission to organize a nonprofit corporation. (Formerly SSB1069) 3/8/2021 3/22/2021 7/1/2021
SF289 A bill for an act relating to the powers and duties of the boards of directors of area education agencies, school districts, and school corporations, and to the election of a director as school board president. (Formerly SSB1133) 3/9/2021 3/22/2021 7/1/2021
SF307 A bill for an act relating to the examination and transportation of dead bodies, including associated fees and costs. (Formerly SF106) 3/8/2021 3/22/2021 7/1/2021
SF353 A bill for an act relating to drainage and levee districts, by providing for notices to interested persons including landowners in the district, and for repairs that require a report by an engineer or soil and water conservation district conservationist. (Formerly SSB1180) 3/9/2021 3/22/2021 7/1/2021
SF482 A bill for an act regulating the application of pesticides, including by providing for the certification of applicators, and certain actions taken by the department of agriculture and land stewardship against private applicators, and providing penalties. (Formerly SSB1214) 3/10/2021 3/22/2021 7/1/2021
HF280 A bill for an act authorizing the department of transportation to renew certain valid commercial driver’s licenses without examination, including by electronic renewal, and including effective date provisions. (Formerly HSB99) 3/29/2021 4/2/2021 4/2/2021
HF382 A bill for an act authorizing the department of transportation to issue special permits allowing the transportation of loads of relief supplies that exceed statutory weight limits during periods of national emergency. (Formerly HSB100) 3/29/2021 4/2/2021 7/1/2021
HF389 A bill for an act relating to chauffeurs and exempting certain persons from the requirement to be licensed as a chauffeur. (Formerly HSB83) 3/22/2021 4/2/2021 7/1/2021
HF621 A bill for an act establishing which actions may be brought against firearm, firearm accessory, and ammunition manufacturers, distributors, importers, trade associations, sellers, or dealers. (Formerly HSB116) 3/22/2021 4/2/2021 7/1/2021
HF756 A bill for an act relating to the acquisition and possession of weapons and providing penalties. (Formerly HSB254) 3/22/2021 4/2/2021 7/1/2021
SF230 A bill for an act relating to wrecked or salvage motor vehicles. (Formerly SSB1028) 2/16/2021 4/2/2021 7/1/2021

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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