Week Twelve Capitol Report
April 1, 2022
This week, the House Appropriations Committee approved the FY23 proposed budgets for Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF). With the passage of the House Education budget this week, only the HHS and RIIF remain for the House to consider. The Senate has not considered any FY23 budget bills sent from the House yet.
In addition to committee work, the House passed House File 2577 on March 29th with a 60-36 vote. The bill would require schools to make curriculum materials available to parents, provide a list of all library books available, and directs schools to create a process for parents to request the removal books. Republican members of the House argued the bill reflects best practices that many schools already have in place while Democrats argued the bill puts additional requirements on teachers. HF 2577 must be approved by the Senate.
The Senate also debated two significant pieces of legislation this week, including bottle bill reform and educational savings accounts.
Senate File 2378 would make significant changes to Iowa’s bottle bill law and received Senate approval on March 29th with a 31-18 vote. While changes to the law are proposed nearly every year, this was the first time a major proposal to reform the bottle bill was considered in debate by a chamber of the Legislature since its adoption in 1978. The bill would make the following changes:
· Allow dealers to opt out of redemption
· Increases the handling fee paid by distributors by 2 cents
· Decreases the barrel tax for beer by 6 cents a gallon
· Codifies unredeemed deposits to distributors
· Civil enforcement by the Department of Natural Resources and Attorney General
The House also has a proposal to reform the bottle bill that differs from the Senate and is eligible for floor debate.
On March 30th, the Senate approved one of Governor Reynolds top education priorities. Senate File 2369 would create a Student First Scholarship Program that would authorize up to 10,000 scholarships per year. Parents would be allowed to use the scholarship for qualified education expenses including tuition and fees to private schools. The bill also includes language similar to HF 2577 related to parental access to classroom materials. SF 2369 passed with a 31-18 vote.
Next week, both chambers are expected to hold more floor debate and continue negotiations on the FY23 budget. The 100th day of session is April 19th and marks the end of per diem expenses being paid to legislators.