Week 6 Legislative Update

February 16, 2024

This Week, legislators held numerous subcommittee and committee meetings to advance legislation before today’s funnel deadline. Bills that do not pass out of the originating committee by February 16th are no longer eligible for consideration. Legislation in the Ways and Means or Appropriations Committees are exempt from this deadline. Governor Reynolds released the following statement:

“Iowans expect their elected leaders to lead on issues that help move our state forward. My legislative priorities focus on improving literacy, teacher salaries, and special education, aligning our mental health and substance use regions to better serve Iowans, extending postpartum coverage for women in need, cutting taxes, and further strengthening our laws on foreign ownership of land,” said Gov. Kim Reynolds. “As the legislative process continues, so will conversations on how we deliver results for Iowans. Iowa has cemented itself as a national leader, and these priorities take us another step further.” 

Area Education Agencies 

During the Condition of the State address, Governor Reynolds unveiled a plan to overhaul Iowa’s Area Education Agencies. Both the House and Senate held subcommittee meetings on the Governor’s proposal. The Senate advanced Senate Study Bill 3073 out of the Senate Education Committee this week but passed a strike after amendment. Under the amendment, starting in fiscal year 2025 90% of funding dedicated to special education services and 60% of funding for general education and media services will be sent directly to school districts. Districts can then contract with the AEA or a different provider for special education, general education, and media services. AEAs would continue to receive all funding for professional development services. 

The House held a subcommittee on House Study Bill 542 on January 31st but did not vote to move the bill to committee after hearing from members of the public, lobbyists, and educators. 

This week, the House introduced a competing AEA reform bill, House Study Bill 713. The legislation would retain Iowa’s AEAs as the sole provider of special education services. School districts could contract for media and general education services starting in the 2025-2026 school year, services which are currently provided by the AEA. Under the bill, AEAs would retain all federal special education funding, while state aid and property tax dollars that currently go to AEAs would go to school districts.  

Boards and Commissions Review 

On Monday, Governor Reynolds introduced her plan to eliminate and consolidate Iowa’s 256 boards and commissions. Senate Study Bill 3172 would eliminate over 100 of the boards and commissions and create a State Government Efficiency Review Committee. The Senate State Government Committee advanced the bill on Wednesday with the intent to amend the bill to account for some of the concerns expressed during the subcommittee meeting. 

The House introduced House Study Bill 710 this week which passed out of the House State Government Committee with unanimous support. The House bill would eliminate 49 boards and commissions, largely considered defunct or duplicative. Both the Governor’s proposal and HSB 710 would eliminate the gender balance requirement in Iowa’s boards and commissions. 

School Safety 

Last week, House leadership announced they would be introducing legislation aimed at improving school safety. On Monday House Study Bill 675 passed the House Public Safety Committee as amended with a 13-8 vote. The amended legislation would allow all school personnel to receive a permit to carry a firearm on school grounds after passing several training courses and provide schools with up to $50,000 in matching funds if they hire a school resource officer or private security. The original language required high schools with more than 8,000 students to have a security officer, however, the amendment allows school boards to opt out of the requirement. 

Other Bills of Interest: 

Retail Theft (HSB 705): Provides that a person who commits organized retail theft as defined is guilty of a class “C” or “D” felony. The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, surviving the first funnel deadline.

Right of First Refusal (SF 2372/HF 2551): Provides companies with existing electric transmission infrastructure the “right of first refusal” for new projects. During the 2020 session, “right of first refusal” legislation was adopted on the final day of the session before being struck down in 2023, partly due to the legislative process followed in 2020.  

Hands-Free/Traffic Cameras (HSB 707/SSB 3016): Both the House and Senate advanced legislation out of committee that would limit the use of electronic devices while driving and prohibit the use of automated traffic enforcement devices. 

Work-based Learning (SF 2260/HF 2516): Both the House and Senate advanced versions of the Governor’s work-based learning legislation that expands work-based learning opportunities, creates a workforce opportunity fund, makes changes to student teaching requirements, and adds eligibility requirements for the last dollar scholarship program. The bills were referred to the Appropriations Committee in both chambers.

Next week, both chambers will begin to debate legislation on the floor and work on tax and appropriation bills. The House released a debate calendar for Monday with 20 bills. Senate and House debate calendars can be found here