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2020 Iowa Legislative Report - Week Seven - February 28, 2020

Following the first funnel, this week we predictably saw an uptick in floor action in both chambers and a couple of debates that lasted into the evening. The late nights had as much to do with the volume of the work as it did with contentious subject matter including tort and welfare reform. 

With three weeks remaining until the second funnel, the focus will continue to be on moving Senate files out of the Senate and House files out of the House, while simultaneously moving Senate Ways and Means and Appropriations bills through the committee process.

Is tax reform an inevitable outcome of this session?

The tax reform landscape continues to evolve.

  • The Governor’s proposal, the Invest in Iowa Act (SSB 3116 / HSB 657) would raise the sales tax a penny to fund the Iowa Water and Land Legacy Fund created by constitutional amendment 10 years ago. The money would go to water quality.  In order to offset the sales tax increase, the proposal includes removing the property tax levy for mental health with the General Fund absorbing these costs.  It also contemplates an income tax cut and several other related positions. 
  • Behind the scenes, the Ways and Means Committee leadership is working on a large tax reform package; a bill will be introduced in the next few weeks.  This is similar to 2018 when a large tax reform package was worked on for the better part of the session and introduced as a bill at the very end.
  • The Department of Revenue has filed its first Department bill in six years. It includes numerous provisions, both substantive and technical.
  • Numerous legislators have filed bills that deal with tax credits.

Given all these moving parts, it is not a matter of whether a tax reform package will end up on the Governor’s desk, it is a matter of which package and what it will include. 

Will the real budget numbers please stand up…

The most pivotal meeting of the legislative session has been scheduled. The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) meets Thursday, March 12, at the Capitol. After the REC releases its estimates, the Governor and Legislature will know exactly how much money they have available to budget and, depending on the estimate, both may have to revise their earlier estimates. 

New Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court named

The Iowa Supreme Court has selected Justice Susan Christensen as the new Chief Justice, replacing the late Justice Mark Cady. Governor Reynolds appointed Christensen to the Supreme Court in 2018.

Key Gubernatorial Appointments Confirmed by the Senate

Three key appointees of the Governor’s Administration were confirmed this week in the Senate with broad bipartisan support.  These appointments were made while the General Assembly was out of session.  The Senate is required to act on these and hundreds of other appointments during this session. 

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