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Davis Brown Government Relations Report


2020 Iowa Legislative Report - Week Nine - March 13, 2020

Iowa’s Response to Coronavirus

As the nation and the world react to the spread of COVID-19, Governor Reynolds’s Office is coordinating Iowa’s response with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) as the lead agency.  The Governor plans to provide an update Friday, March 13  on the status of COVID-19 and the state’s response. 

 

IDPH is currently publishing regular updates. At this point, the IIDPH is not making recommendations to cancel “planned events or mass gatherings.” However, the Governor has issued a Disaster Proclamation which “authorizes state agencies to utilize resources including personnel, equipment and facilities to perform activities necessary to prevent, contain and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 virus.”

 

One Iowa Senator, Senator Rob Hogg, has publicly called for a resolution to temporarily suspend the legislative session.  At this time, the Iowa General Assembly does not plan to adjust its schedule or restrict access to the Capitol. Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, commented on Thursday, March 12 that legislative leaders are consulting often with Governor Reynolds and IDPH officials regarding procedures and protocol at the Statehouse after other states have limited access and halted some activities.  He did remark that things could change quickly if conditions warrant.


Legal Resources

Our Davis Brown colleagues are also publishing frequent updates on how Iowa employers, including healthcare providers, can prepare in advance of the spread of the virus. This resource center contains all our legal resources for employers, education institutions, healthcare providers, businesses, and information about travel and immigration issues.

 

Employment attorney Jo Ellen Whitney’s webinar covers what, beyond infection control in the workplace, employers should consider such as sending symptomatic employees home, absenteeism, working remotely, and staffing considerations. There are potential legal issues too: whistleblowing, ADA, FMLA, wage hour, and more.

 

President Schneider Retirement

The biggest election news of the week (other than of course COVID-19) was Senate President Charles Schneider’s announcement that he will not seek re-election, leaving Senate District 22 an open seat in the 2020 election.  The Democrats were already targeting this suburban seat in an attempt to capitalize on the changing voter registration (trending Democratic) and the gains made last year in Iowa and around the country turning suburban Republican seats blue. 

 

Senator Schneider first won a special election after the 2012 general election to replace Senator Pat Ward, who passed away shortly before the 2012 election.  Senator Schneider became Senate President in 2017 after Senator Dix abruptly retired as Senate Majority Leader and Republicans elected Senator Whitver to the Majority Leader position and chose Senator Schneider to replace Senator Whitver as Senate President.

 

2020 Filing Deadline March 13

Today is the filing deadline for anyone who wants to be on the June 2020 Primary Election Ballot. The winners of the primaries will go on to be their party’s nominees on the General Election Ballot in November. 

 

This is a critical date to watch as these filings reveal which races will have contested primaries and, in particular, which races will be open.  Because incumbents in Iowa routinely get re-elected, open seats often increase the chances to flip a seat.  The more open seats, the more likely the chances for party control of a chamber to switch.

 

Announced Retirements 

House Republicans Retiring

House Democrats Retiring

Senate Republicans Retiring

Senate Democrats Retiring

1.  Carlson (91)

2.  Gassman (7)

3.  Hagenow (19)

4.  Hanusa (16)

5.  Hinson (67)

6.  Huseman (3)

7.  Upmeyer (54)

8.  Zumbach (95)

1.  Kacena (14)

2.  M Smith (71)

1.   Behn (24)

2.   Breitbach (28)

3.   Feenstra (2)

4.   Greene (44)

5.   Kapucian (38)

6.   Schneider (22)

7.   Segebart (6)

None

 

We will provide an update after the filing deadline reviewing any surprises.

 

 



March Revenue Estimating Conference (REC)

The biggest budgetary news of the week at the Capitol was the release of the budget estimates by the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC).  The REC reduced the estimate for FY 2021 by about $12 million, from $8.249 billion to $8.237 billion. 

 

The March estimate reflects about 1.8% growth over the previous year.  The REC also estimated that FY 2020 revenues will increase by about $76 million compared to the December estimate. REC members said that they are concerned about the potential impact of the coronavirus but have no hard evidence yet to make dramatic changes to the budget estimates. They said that Iowa still has a strong and growing economy.

 

The slight change to the budget estimates is not expected to require the budget subcommittees to make significant changes.  The legislature must use the lower number and the Governor must submit a revised budget proposal to the legislature reflecting this reduction within 14 days of the new REC estimate (by Thursday, March 26).

 

Judicial Branch Updates

Supreme Court Nominees

Last week, the Judicial Nominating Commission interviewed candidates for the Iowa Supreme Court vacancy and on Friday, March 6, selected three nominees to send to Governor Reynolds.  Governor Reynolds has 30 days from March 6 to select a nominee. The new justice will replace Justice Wiggins, who is leaving the Supreme Court this month. The three nominees are:

 

  • Matthew McDermott, an attorney with Belin McCormick, Des Moines
  • Judge Mary Chicchelly, Sixth Judicial District, Cedar Rapids
  • Judge David May, Iowa Court of Appeals, Polk City

 

The applications and writing samples of each of the candidates are available on the Judicial Branch’s website.

 

Iowa Courts COVID-19 Information and Updates

The Iowa Judicial Branch provided the following preparedness information in response to the threat of coronavirus:

 

Executive Branch Updates

Senate Confirmations

The following Gubernatorial appointments were confirmed by the Senate this week:

  • Elizabeth Johnson, Director, Civil Rights Commission, Confirmed 48-0
  • Annette Dunn, Chief Information Officer, Confirmed 44-4
  • Helen Miller, Chair of the Board of Parole, Confirmed 48-0

 

New Director of Education

Also this week, the Governor announced the appointment of Dr. Ann Lebo as the new Director of the Department of Education.  Lebo replaces Ryan Wise, who left the DOE to accept a deanship at Drake University. Lebo’s appointment is subject to Senate confirmation but she can serve in the role in the interim.

 

Bills Sent to Governor/Signed by Governor

SF 2025

Employment of County Engineers

Signed by Governor. S.J. 614.

3/12/2020

SF 2091

Odometer Requirements

Signed by Governor. S.J. 614.

3/12/2020

SF 2118

Refinanced Student Loans for Rural Physicians

Signed by Governor. S.J. 615.

3/12/2020

SF 2131

Domestic Ceding Insurers for Reinsurance

Signed by Governor. S.J. 615.

3/12/2020

SF 2132

Legal Reserve Requirements of Life Insurance Companies

Signed by Governor. S.J. 615.

3/12/2020

SF 2134

Canned Cocktails

Signed by Governor. S.J. 615.

3/12/2020

SF 2137

Filing Requirements for Real Estate Transactions

Signed by Governor. S.J. 615.

3/12/2020

SF 2142

SSA Funding

Signed by Governor. S.J. 615.

3/12/2020

SF 2187

Uniform Protected Series Act

Signed by Governor. S.J. 615.

3/12/2020

SF 2198

Designated Consumer Lending Provisions

Signed by Governor. S.J. 615.

3/12/2020

SF 2250

Responsibilities of Timber Buyers

Signed by Governor. S.J. 615.

3/12/2020

SF 583

Solar Bill

Signed by Governor. S.J. 614.

3/12/2020

HF 2235

Human Trafficking CDL

Reported correctly enrolled, signed by Speaker and President, and sent to Governor. H.J. 588.

3/11/2020

HF 2267

Dentistry Practice

Reported correctly enrolled, signed by Speaker and President, and sent to Governor. H.J. 588.

3/11/2020

HF 426

Insurance Fraud Bureau

Reported correctly enrolled, signed by Speaker and President, and sent to Governor. H.J. 588.

3/11/2020

SF 155

Mobile Barber

Signed by Governor. S.J. 587.

3/10/2020

SF 2164

Cost Per Pupil/ Transportation Equity Fund

Signed by Governor. S.J. 427.

2/25/2020

SF 2144

Supplemental Appropriation

Signed by Governor. S.J. 316.

2/13/2020




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