Week 5 Legislative Update

February 13, 2023


Both Chambers held meetings on priority legislation this week and debated into the evening on Wednesday. Gov. Reynolds’ government reorganization bill saw its first subcommittee meeting this week, as well as medical malpractice caps making it through both chambers. Childcare legislation and public education funding were also discussed, with the Governor signing a 3% increase to public K-12 funding into law on Tuesday.

High Profile Legislation

Tort Reform (Medical Malpractice)

A bill limiting medical malpractice claims for non-economic damages has made its way to the Governor’s desk after passing out of both the Iowa House and Senate on Wednesday. House File 161 caps non-economic damages to $2 million when malpractice suits involve a hospital and $1 million for suits involving independent clinics. Though non-economic damages have been capped, economic and punitive damages remain without limit. Proponents of the bill advocated that these changes will help combat health care provider shortages in rural Iowa by lowering liability insurance premiums and enable insurance providers to establish predictable rates for health care providers.

Following the bill’s passage, Governor Reynolds released the following statement Thursday morning:

“I’m grateful to the legislature for passing reasonable medical malpractice reform, allowing Iowa’s health care industry to become stronger and more accessible. To the OBGYNs and physicians who have been worried about practicing in Iowa, we are ready for you! These reforms balance the needs of injured patients with the needs of all Iowans to have a robust health care system. As I said in my Condition of the State, these reforms could not wait another year.”

MEGA Program

The Iowa Economic Development Authority introduced House Study Bill 147 this week. The bill creates a new program focused on providing new incentives for major economic growth attraction projections. Director Durham presented the proposal to the Senate Economic Development Budget Subcommittee, sharing that the program is necessary for Iowa to compete for large projects.

Projects would have to meet the following criteria to be eligible for the program:

  • More than $1 billion in capital investment
  • Advanced manufacturing, biosciences, research businesses only
  • Created jobs must pay at least 140% of the laborshed wage at the time the project is completed
  • Must offer qualified benefits plan (consistent with High Quality Jobs Program)
  • Located at a certified site (industrial or mega), site must be 250 acres


Multiple bills have been introduced this year to attempt to combat the ongoing child care shortage. House Study Bill 50 would make families automatically eligible to receive state funded childcare assistance (CCA) if a parent is employed full time as childcare provider. A unanimous 3-0 bipartisan vote passed the bill out of a House Human Health and Services subcommittee on Wednesday, indicating that both parties are willing to work together to find solutions to the childcare demands in the state.

Other Bills of Interest

House File 242: This bill would establish daylight saving time as the official time for the state of Iowa throughout the entire year. HF 242 was introduced and referred to the House State Government Committee on Wednesday. Similar legislation has been introduced in previous years, but has failed to garner enough support in both chambers.

House Study Bill 124: This bill allows municipalities to establish land redevelopment trusts as a method to return dilapidated, abandoned, blighted, and tax-delinquent properties to communities. The bill received bi-partisan support in a subcommittee meeting on Wednesday.

Senate Study Bill 1123: The first Senate Subcommittee on Gov. Reynolds government reorganization bill was held on Wednesday. Due to the size of the bill, lawmakers have decided to break it up by its divisions, requiring multiple meetings to take place. The next subcommittee meeting is scheduled for Monday February 13th.

Senate File 167: This bill expands the workings hours and jobs teenagers can work in Iowa. Those in support of the bill believe it will alleviate some of the workforce pressures the state has been facing, while those in opposition feel that it may put young workers at more risk than is necessary. A Senate Workforce Subcommittee recommended the bill’s passage on Thursday.

Senate File 181: Property tax reform to fix an error that occurred in the administration of a property tax rollback calculation concerning multi-residential properties that would negatively impact local government budgets. The bill passed the Senate 49-0 and moved to the House debate calendar after passing out of the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.

Next Week

With a lot of focus being on education and tort reform this week, it is likely that the legislature will start to focus more on tax reform and the Governor’s reorganization bill in the coming weeks. 

Session Timeline

  • March 3rd is the first Funnel Date
  • March 31st is the second Funnel Date
  • April 28th is the 110th day of session where per diem expenses end