Week 8 Legislative Update

February 23, 2024

This Week, both the House and Senate debated on the floor and held a handful of subcommittee and committee meetings. On Monday, Governor Reynolds signed the first bill into law. Senate File 2204 creates additional reporting requirements for foreign entities owning agricultural land in the state. Governor Reynolds released the following statement:

“American farmland should remain in American hands, and Iowa’s agricultural dominance must be protected. Other states look to Iowa as a model, but foreign adversaries are adapting, and our laws must too. I’m proud that the first bill sent to my desk this legislative session had bipartisan support to protect our most valuable resource: our land. Iowans across all 99 counties have expressed the need for tougher foreign ownership laws that strengthen enforcement, increase reporting, and enhance transparency. And today, we can say we’ve delivered.”

Childcare Center Property Taxes

House Study Bill 726 excludes property that is primarily used a child care facility from the calculation of the actual value of the property, and specifies the property is taxed as residential property rather than commercial. The legislation aims to create parity among child care centers and encourage new childcare centers to open across the state. The House held a subcommittee meeting on the bill last week and unanimously advanced it forward to be considered by the full Ways and Means committee.


On Tuesday, the Senate passed Senate File 108, requiring employers in the state to utilize a federal e-verify system when hiring. The bill prohibits employers from knowingly hiring unauthorized immigrants and provides penalties for businesses who violate the law. Business groups opposed the bill sharing concerns that the program creates a burden on employers struggling to find workers in the state and has inaccurate results. The Senate advanced the bill with a 30-17 vote, with one Republican voting no. The House previously considered a companion bill but failed to advance it out of subcommittee.

Education Reform

Last week the House considered a number of education bills including a school safety proposal, Area Education Agency reform, higher education reform, and social studies curriculum reform. Governor Reynolds introduced a plan to make significant changes to Iowa’s AEAs during her Condition of the State address in January, however both the House and Senate have made various changes to the proposal. House File 2612 will now go to the Senate for consideration. 

Speaker Grassley shared the following graphic in his newsletter this week, highlighting the changes made to AEA’s.

House File 2558 makes changes to diversity, equity, and inclusion policies at Iowa’s Regent Universities. Many of the changes came following an interim study done by the Board of Regents this fall at the legislature’s request. The bill also caps tuition increases at 3% and adds two ex officio nonvoting legislators to the Board of Regents.

House File 2586 passed the Iowa House 61-34 on Wednesday evening. The proposal would allow teachers and school staff to acquire a professional permit to carry guns on school grounds following additional training requirements while providing qualified immunity in cases of “reasonable force”. The bill also requires larger districts to employ school resource officers (SRO) unless a school board votes against hiring an SRO. Democrats opposed the bill during floor debate, arguing more armed personnel will not make Iowa schools safer.

All three proposals must advance out of a Senate committee before the second funnel deadline to remain eligible.

Other Bills of Interest: 

Certified Sites (HF 2633): Allocates a portion of the Iowa Skilled Worker and Job Creation Fund to assist in costs associated with site certification in counties with a population of less than 50,000. The legislation coincides with the Major Economic Growth Attraction Program currently being considered to help provide additional incentives to attract large development projects for certified sites across the state.  The bill passed out of the House Appropriations subcommittee and committee meetings this week.

Work-based Learning (SF 2260/HF 2516): The legislation creates a workforce opportunity fund to be used to fund equipment, instruction materials, stipends, and other training related costs for work-based learning programs. The legislation also modifies requirements related to technical and career education, student-teacher requirements, and the last-dollar scholarship eligibility. The Senate advanced the bill out of subcommittee after the bill was referred to appropriations.

MEGA Program (SF 574): IEDA proposed a pilot program last session that would allow the state to offer incentives for large economic development projects. The legislation passed the Senate 45-2 in 2023. Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee advanced the bill out of committee.

Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SF 2095): Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s free exercise of religion. The legislation passed the Senate with a party line vote last week. In the House, the legislation passed 61-33 and was sent to the Governor.

Next week, debate will continue in both chambers as well as discussions on tax and appropriation policy proposals. The second funnel deadline is March 15th, legislation must pass a committee in the opposite chamber by the second funnel deadline to remain eligible.