The 2nd session of the 87th Iowa General Assembly ended in the early afternoon of Saturday, May 5, 18 days past the scheduled adjournment date.
In her Condition of the State Address, the Governor outlined her priorities for the session which included water quality, expansion of rural broadband, tax reform, Medicaid and mental health coverage, the opioid epidemic, and education with a focus on STEM and Future Ready Iowa. Governor Reynolds was able to sign into law legislation that addressed each of these priorities to varying degrees.
The session began with a de-appropriations bill (SF 2117) which cut approximately $32 million from the FY 2018 budget with over a third of that cut coming out of the Board of Regents. The de-appropriations process took longer than expected, so much so that by the time the bill was sent to the Governor, tax reform bills were being introduced and work on the 2019 budget was taking place.
This set up an extremely complex policy development process along three separate yet inexorably related tracks of:
- Cutting the FY 2018 budget
- Setting the FY 2019
- Establishing long-term systemic cuts and changes to the Iowa Tax Code
During this complex process, Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix resigned his position and his seat. The caucus elected Senator Jack Whitver (Senate President at the time) to replace him. The Senate then elected Senator Charles Schneider to fill the Senate President vacancy. Senator Schneider retained his position as Senate Appropriations Chair as well. This added a new dynamic to the process.
As is the case in all legislative sessions, many issues were addressed and resolved in the final days and sent to the Governor in the form of appropriations bills, ways and means bills, or policy bills.
On June 1, the Governor took final action (signed, vetoed or line-item vetoed) all remaining legislation on her desk thus ending legislative action for 2018.
The regulatory process is now underway as rules are being promulgated by all executive branch agencies impacted by legislation this year. Pay particular attention to the Department of Revenue as it will be implementing the sweeping changes made to the tax code this year.
Up next is November’s election and it will be time to begin the 88th General Assembly before we know it!