Week 7 Legislative Update

February 24, 2023


In preparation for the upcoming funnel deadline, this week the legislature held a large number of subcommittee and committee meetings. Legislation must receive committee approval from its originating chamber to remain edible for consideration following March 3rd. Bills assigned to either the Appropriations or Ways and Means Committees are exempt from this deadline.

On Monday, Governor Reynolds signed Senate File 181 into law. The bill reduces the rollback by a $127 million statewide so local governments will need to readjust budgets as they look to certify next month.

High Profile Legislation

Tort Reform (Trucker Tort):

Senate File 228, related to commercial trucking operations was passed out of the Senate Wednesday afternoon, receiving 30 votes in favor and 19 against, with 4 Republican Senators joining the Democrats in opposing the bill.  The purpose of the bill is to address the shrinking market for umbrella insurance coverage available to commercial trucking companies by limiting the causes of action and placing a cap on noneconomic damages. 

The bill caps noneconomic damages awarded at $2 million in personal injury or wrongful death cases, which is a $1 million increase from the originally proposed amount. The Houses companion bill, House File 201, passed out of the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month and is awaiting floor debate within the chamber. Those opposed to the bills argue that this would make the roads more dangerous, while supporters emphasize that compensatory and punitive damages are not limited by the bill and will provide insurance rate predictability to the trucking industry.

Property & Sales Tax:

Senate Study Bill 1125, is a bill that was introduced by Sen. Dan Dawson with the intent of creating alternative sources of revenue for local governments outside of property tax hikes. The bill would create a statewide standard for local option sales taxes (LOST). Provided in the bill is an increase in sales tax that would fund the constitutionally created Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. The bill would also create certain property tax assessment limitations by reducing the percentage of actual value that is assessed of commercial, industrial and railway properties that exceed $150,000.

Sen. Dawson recognized that both bills require more work and amendments are likely to follow, but he expressed his belief that that bills are moving forward with a strong foundation to build from. SSB 1125 was passed out of its assigned Senate Ways and Means Subcommittee on Tuesday afternoon.

Other Bills of Interest

HSB 147: A bill that would establish a major economic growth attraction (MEGA) program in Iowa. This program would be run by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and would provide major incentives for qualifying foreign companies to establish business sites throughout the state. The intent of the bill is to make Iowa more attractive to large economic development projects that would create jobs and provide for major capital investments.

HSB 200: A coalition of energy customers and utility companies introduced an innovative rates proposal that would allow large energy users more flexibility to create alternative means to meet energy demands while not impacting costs to non-participating customers. The House held a subcommittee meeting on the proposal on Thursday and advanced the legislation to committee.   

SSB 1123:  The Senate’s version of Governor Reynold’s government reorganization bill passed out of the Senate State Government Committee on Wednesday afternoon.  The House continues to hold subcommittee hearings on their version of the bill.

SSB 1160: A bill that would create a cybersecurity simulation training center at Iowa State University was passed out of a Senate Technology Committee with full support. The program would appropriate $2.5 million initially, but once established it is meant to be economically self-sustaining.

Next Week

The first funnel date is next Friday, which means that the time for any new bill proposals is quickly coming to an end. With that being said, expect days to be packed with back-to-back subcommittee hearings and committee meetings as lawmakers attempt to get priority legislation moved through the legislative process.

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