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2020 Iowa Legislative Report - Week Eight - March 6, 2020

Candidate Filing Deadline

Next Friday, March 13, is the filing deadline for the June primary. This is a critical deadline to watch because we will know the field of candidates (other than write-in) for all the legislative and statewide races. 

This fall, all the Iowa House seats are up for election, as are half of the Senate seats (even-numbered seats, 2-50). 

Several members have announced their intention to leave the Legislature, including Republican Representatives Hinson, Huseman, Upmeyer and Zumbach, and Democratic Representatives Kacena and Mark Smith. Hinson is leaving to run in the US 1 House race. Former Representative and Senator Steve Hansen announced that he will seek the nomination in House 14, Kacena’s district. 

In the Senate, Senators Feenstra and Miller-Meeks are also running for the US House. Feenstra is leaving the Senate, but Miller-Meeks is halfway through her term and will return if she does not win in the general election. Senators Greene and Behn have also announced that they will retire from the Senate. We will publish a complete round-up of the candidates after the Friday deadline.

Below are Senate and House maps depicting the open seats as we know them now.  


 
 

Key piece of the budget puzzle

This week, the House and Senate agreed to a 2.3% increase in per-pupil state aid. Negotiations had been stalled for three weeks following the Senate’s original proposed 2.1% increase and the House’s 2.5%.  The 2.3% compromise translates to an $85.57 million increase to education funding. 

This amount is in addition to a package of more than $13 million that has already been signed by Governor Reynolds and brings the state’s overall K-12 education budget to nearly $3.4 billion.  

While this is a good sign, the Legislature is actually required to set its per-pupil funding levels for the next budget year within the first 30 days of the Governor’s budget announcement, a deadline that came and went in mid-February without finalization of the funding number. This requirement is designed to allow schools to certify and adopt their budgets by April 15.

Budget talks will begin in earnest next week after the Revenue Estimating Conference meets and announces its projection.  
  


Progress on Governor’s Priorities

Professional Licensing

SF 2393 passed a Senate Labor and Business subcommittee this week.  This bill is designed to attract and build Iowa’s workforce by removing barriers for out-of-state professionals to come in and practice specific professions.  It also allows a person with criminal convictions in certain circumstances to hold a professional license.

Invest in Iowa Act
This week, the Senate Ways and Means Committee held a subcommittee meeting on SSB 3116, the Invest in Iowa Act.  The subcommittee, made up of Sens. Chapman (Chair, Senate Ways and Means), Smith (Chair, State Government), Dawson (Chair, Commerce), Jochum (Ranking Member, Ways and Means), and Bolkcom (Ranking Members, Appropriations), heard presentations from dozens of interest groups and individuals largely expressing support for the package that seeks to address:

  • Water Quality Funding
  • Mental Health Funding
  • Income and Property Tax Relief

For many Republicans, the biggest issue is that the package includes a sales tax increase. Similar proposals are being worked on behind the scenes with roughly the same goals but different methods of paying for the programs and the tax cuts. 

This bill did not advance out of subcommittee but the legislators on the subcommittee pledged to continue to work on it. Given that this has an appropriations and ways and means provision, the bill is not subject to the funnel deadline and as such will survive the second funnel without further required action. 

A tax relief package that includes water quality and mental health funding components is considered a must-have for many legislators and the Governor before the legislature can adjourn for the year.




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