Week 3 Legislative Update

January 26, 2024

The Senate held 89 subcommittee meetings this week while the House held 97, the busiest week of the legislative session thus far. Committee work will increase in the following weeks as legislation advances out of subcommittee. Both the House and Senate held budget subcommittee meetings to hear presentations on the Governor’s FY25 budget recommendations. On Tuesday, New Hampshire held the first primary where former president Donald Trump won 54.3% of the vote. Before the primary, Governor Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy both suspended their campaigns and endorsed Trump. 

Governor’s Priority Legislation 

Governor Reynolds released three priority bills this week relating to foreign land ownership, administrative rules, and ESG in the following press release:

Today, Governor Kim Reynolds released the following three bills to House and Senate leadership:  

Foreign Ownership of Land: Building on Iowa’s already strong laws by enhancing registration and reporting requirements with the Secretary of State’s office, enhancing enforcement action through the Attorney General’s Office, and increasing penalties for nefarious actors. 

“As I traveled across the state, farmers and concerned Iowans have expressed the need for tougher legislation and I agree. Iowa has been a leader with one of the toughest foreign land ownership laws in the country being enacted back in the seventies,” said Gov. Kim Reynolds. “Allowing foreign adversaries to undermine the agricultural dominance of our farmers only makes America weaker. American farmland should remain in American hands.” 

Rules: Requires that each rule undergoes a cost-benefit analysis before it is first enacted and establishes a five-year sunset on all rule chapters unless they undergo a regular comprehensive evaluation to determine their necessity and effectiveness. 

ESG: Protects Iowa's public funds by prohibiting contracting with investment firms that elevate social issues over financial returns.”

Legislation reforming Iowa’s Area Education Agencies did not advance this week as legislators wait to receive the Governor’s proposed amendment back from drafting.

Other Bills of Interest:

MEGA Program (SF 574): Proposed IEDA pilot program would allow the state to offer incentives for large economic development projects. The legislation passed the Senate 45-2 in 2023 and was assigned to a House Ways and Means subcommittee this week.

Driving Privileges for Minors (SF 2109): Creates a special license for minors under 16 to drive to school and work. The legislation was created as a result of recommendations made by an interim study group and advanced out of subcommittee and committee this week.

Temporary Event Alcohol Licenses (HSB 594): Creates a temporary event alcohol license for those currently holding a retail alcohol license, beer permit, or wine permit to sell alcohol at events for on-premise consumption with a $50 fee. The legislation passed unanimously out of subcommittee.

Income Tax Reduction (SSB 3038): Governor Reynolds Proposal to reduce individual income taxes to a flat 3.65% retroactive to TY24 and a flat 3.5% tax in TY25. The legislation was assigned to subcommittee in both the House and Senate.

E-Verify (SF 108): Requires employers to utilize the federal E-verify database to confirm any new hires are authorized to work in the US and provides penalties for employers. Members of the subcommittee advanced the bill to committee but reiterated the need to make change to the bill before it advances to the floor. The legislation has failed to garner enough support out of committee in previous years.

Next week, legislators will continue to hold subcommittee and committee meetings on proposed legislation, including a subcommittee on Wednesday to consider removing gender identity as a protected class in Iowa’s Civic Rights Act. The first funnel deadline where bills must be passed out of committee in their originating chamber to remain eligible is February 16.