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Davis Brown Government Relations Report

2019 Legislative Report - Week Six - February 22, 2019

With two weeks left to go before the first legislative funnel (information on the funnel process in last week’s blog post),  progress was made on both the policy and appropriations fronts.  Floor work is heating up in both chambers, peppered between committee work.  Proposed targets signal the start of the budgeting process.  Week Six was packed with headliners:

Significant Committee Action

Judicial Nominating Commission

HF 503 (formerly HSB 110) passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on a 11-10 vote (all Republicans except Rep. McKean voted for the bill). The bill includes an amendment that leaves the existing process in place for district nominating commissions but makes changes for nominating judges to appeals court and Supreme Court justices.  

Sports Betting

SSB 1168 passed out of the Senate State Government Committee and HSB 198 passed out of a House State Government Subcommittee.  SSB 1168 will go to the Senate Ways and Means Committee and HSB 198 will go to the full House State Government Committee.  The House and Senate bills represent very different approaches to sports betting. 

Gun Constitutional Amendment

SJR 18 (formerly SJR 10) passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and HJR 3 passed the House Public Safety Committee in identical forms. These resolutions are a proposed constitutional amendment that would require a court to apply strict scrutiny to any law restricting the right to keep and bear arms.  Both resolutions include language that remove the duty to publish constitutional amendments from the Secretary of State’s office and vest that duty with the General Assembly.  This is in response to the Secretary of State failing to publish proposed constitutional amendments last fall leading to the reset of the process for this and one other Amendment.

Education Funding Bills Signed by the Governor

Both education funding bills  (HF 306 and HF 307) were signed into law this week.  Taken together, these bills will increase education funding by about $90 million.

New Supreme Court Justice Announced

Judge Christopher McDonald was chosen by Governor Reynolds to replace retired Justice Daryl Hecht.   Iowa Public Radio published a story with background on Judge McDonald.

Special Election to Replace Former Senator Jeff Danielson Set

The special election for Senate District 30 was set by Governor Reynolds for Tuesday, March 19.

The following Democrats have announced their intention to seek the Democratic nomination:

  • Eric Giddens-Cedar Falls School Board Member
  • Sasha Wohlpert-Cedar Falls School Board Member
  • Amy Petersen-UNI Professor
  • Tom Ralston-John Deere employee

No one has announced that they are seeking the Republican nomination, however former State Representative Walt Rogers (defeated in the 2018 election) has been mentioned as a possible candidate.

House Budget Targets Released

The House released its budget targets this week which propose slightly higher spending than the Governor.  The Senate budget targets are expected to be released next week.  Once all three targets are released and the March 5 Revenue Estimating Conference has released its estimate, negotiations over the FY 2020 budget will begin in earnest. Below is a table that details the House budget targets.*

Budget area

FY 2020

Increase / (Decrease)

FY 2019


$52.42 M

$3.95 M


$41.11 M

$1.75 M


$41.03 M



$961.04 M

$48.37 M


$1.94 B

($21 M)


$770.37 M

$18.84 M


$3.86 B

($4 M)


$7.67 B

$48.72 M

*Source: Iowa Legislative News Service; Volume 55, Bulletin #29 Thursday, February 21. 


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