Precinct caucuses were held last Monday, therefore most Legislators were at home in their districts and the chambers did not gavel in. Both chambers are busy getting bills through subcommittee and committee ahead of the first funnel this Friday, February 18. Unless a bill has been assigned to the Appropriations, Ways and Means, or Government Oversight committee, it must pass out of a committee by Friday to receive further consideration this legislative session. The Senate floor saw it's first debate last week, approving three bills on the floor Thursday. The House also brought two bills to the floor for debate. One was the State Supplemental Aid (SSA) for schools. By law, the Legislature must have SSA finished within 30 days of the Governor’s Condition of the State Address. The House debated the SSA formula and dollar amounts and approved an increase. 
Governor Reynolds Workforce II Bill Introduced

During Governor Reynolds' Condition of the State Address she advocated for tax reform, education transparency, and the need to address the state's workforce issues. Her priorities have been broken down into two separate bills this session. The first piece of legislation addresses unemployment and tort reform. The House bill has passed out of committee and we expect the Senate companion to pass out of committee this week. The second piece of legislation addresses the rest of the Governor's priorities. Division III of the bill addresses health care workforce recruitment. This division of the bill relates to the rural Iowa primary care loan repayment program, the health care professional recruitment program, and the health care loan repayment program. More details on both pieces of legislation is below. 
I. Unemployment and Tort Reform Legislation (HF 2279/ SSB 3093
  • The Senate and House continue to move on two bills that address unemployment reductions and tort reform. The House bill, HF2279, has been approved by the Labor Committee and Representative Bousselot will be the floor manager. Recently, LSA released the fiscal impact of the bill if passed. The bill sets a "hard cap" on noneconomic damages at $1M. Additionally, it redefines what should be classified as economic and noneconomic damages. The unemployment provisions of the bill are expected to reduce some costs to the DWD, but most of the impact will be to the UE Trust fund and not the GF. LSA estimates that the reduction of benefits to 16 weeks will save the UE trust about $70 million. The imposition of a one-week waiting period will save the UE trust about $23 million. The reduction to benefits to workers for closed businesses will save the UE trust about $4.7 million. The changes to suitable work cannot be estimated but should reduce payments from the UE trust. The tort provisions will limit payments for damages in actions related to injury accidents involving commercial trucks, but do not directly affect the state.
  • The Senate held a subcommittee on the  companion bill, SSB3093. The subcommittee was long and all provisions were discussed by proponents and opponents of the legislation. Moreover, Senator Dickey will  floor manage SF2249, that deals with the unemployment provisions in both bills. This bill cuts back further on the number of weeks of unemployment. Unemployed workers could have as few as 12 weeks under the Senate bill. The Senate bill also makes a number of other changes not seen in the House proposal, such as requirements for some unemployed workers to do civic workers and additional responsibilities for the DWD The extra requirements could affect the number of workers who qualify for unemployment and increase the costs of administering the program for the DWD.
II. Governor's Workforce Bill II (HSB 682/ SSB 3123)
  • Rural Iowa Primary Care Loan Repayment Program: The rural Iowa primary care loan repayment program provides student loan repayments for medical students who agree to practice as physicians in certain specified areas of the state for five years. Under current law, medical students who are eligible for student loan repayments under the program are required to complete the residency program requirement with an Iowa-based residency program. The bill strikes from this provision the requirement that the residency program be based in Iowa. The bill also authorizes student loan repayment for medical students who will practice neurology and medical students who will practice part-time. The bill defines “part-time practice” as at least 70 percent of a 40-hour workweek.
  • Health Care Professional Recruitment Program: The health care professional recruitment program provides student loan repayments for certain health care professionals who graduate from an eligible institution and who agree to practice in an eligible rural community in the state. The bill includes community college within the definition of “eligible institution”. The bill includes advanced registered nurse practitioner and registered nurse within the definition of “health care professional”.
  • Health Care Loan Repayment Program: The health care loan repayment program provides student loan repayments for registered nurses, advanced registered nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and certain nurse educators. The bill modifies the health care loan repayment program to an award program that provides an annual award amount of $6,000 for not more than five consecutive years to registered nurses, advanced registered nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and certain nurse educators. A part-time nurse educator must practice as a registered nurse or an advanced registered nurse practitioner to qualify for an award under the program. The bill changes the name of the program to the health care award program and makes conforming changes.
Governor's Education Program: HSB 672/ SSB 3080
  • Courses: Requires school district to publish course syllabi on the internet. Requires course summaries, with explanations how the course meets educational requirements, a listing of texts and other materials for the course, a library catalogue, and procedures on how to request the removal of a book using a flowchart, and other information on instruction. Reduces state aid for violations. Requires school districts to establish procedures for the selection and removal of materials from school libraries.
  • Aid: Creates scholarships (Student First) to make qualified educational costs for students in private 1-12 schools with a family income under 400%. Includes students with individualized education plans and a student who received such funding in the previous year. Caps the number of scholarships at 10,000. Requires the scholarships to be approved annually. Allows the funding to carry forward until the student graduates HS or turns 21. Deems the money to be non-taxable income. Creates a standing appropriation for the program.
  • Supplement: Establishes a supplement, with a formula, for payments to schools with enrollments under 500 for losses related to the Student First scholarships. Social Studies: Requires HS government classes to test students using the US citizenship test and to submit the results annually to the DOE. Requires the student to score at least a 70 to pass.
  • Private Special Ed: Allows a private school student needing special education courses to be placed in those courses without prior approval by the AEA. Allows the student to be dually enrolled.
  • Open Enrollment: Allows the sibling of a student who is appealing a decision to deny an open enrollment request due to harassment that was filed after March 1 to also appeal a decision on open enrollment. Allows such a sibling student to compete immediately in athletics. Librarians: Strikes requirements that a school librarian have an MLS.
State Supplemental Aid (SSA) for Schools
  • HF 2316 (Formerly HSB 658) - Sets the SSA at 2.5%. For the school year 2022-23, makes the regular program per-pupil cost equal the regular program cost plus the supplemental and $5. Makes the appropriation for transportation equity equal to the amount needed to fully fund transportation equity payments. Changes the property tax replacement formula. Governor Reynolds supports the 2.5% increase.
    • On Thursday, the House debated the SSA formula and dollar amounts and approved an increase. 
  • SF 2204 - Sets the SSA/categorical growth rate at 2.25%. Changes the calculation for the regular per-pupil program cost to add $10 for one year (the 2022-23 school year). Changes the property tax replacement calculation. Increases the appropriation for transportation equity to the amount needed for full funding.
    • The Senate did not debate this bill on the floor due to Senator Sinclair's absence.
Tax Reform 
  • HF 2317 (Formerly HSB 626) - This week House Ways and Means approved HSB 626 on a party line vote. The bill is very similar to the Governor’s tax proposal (HSB 551) except the House version does not include corporate tax cuts. Additionally, the House bill provides that the Taxpayer Trust Fund will be used to offset any temporary revenue reduction in order protect key priorities like education, health care and public safety. During committee passage of the bill, House Democrats brought thirteen amendments. All amendments were defeated on a party line vote. 
  • SF 2206 (Formerly SSB 3074) - The Senate Ways & Means Committee approved its tax reform proposal last week, and the bill is out as a successor.
  • Both the House and Senate have used centerpieces of the Governor’s tax proposal, establishing a flat 4 % tax on individual income tax payers and elimination of taxes on retirement income. Corporate tax reform and sales tax modernization will continue to be worked on as the two chambers move forward with the legislative process.
Governor's Biofuels Access Bill: HF 2128
  • The bill will expand access to higher-blend ethanol fuels across the state by requiring more stations to carry higher blends.
  • Passed out of Senate Agriculture Committee 13-0. 
  • The bill will now go to the Senate Ways and Means Committee for debate. 
Sports Wagering Fund : HF 2286 (Formerly HSB 614)
  • Replaces the sports wagering fund with the county endowment fund for internet fantasy sports and sports wagering receipts.
  • Passed State Government Committee.
The tourism and hospitality industry was decimated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The industry is starting to see some recovery, but much work is still left to be done. Increased tourism investment will lead to a healthier economy and a strong workforce for the entire state. The following initiatives will assist with the recovery of the hospitality industry. Learn more on the 
The full 2022 legislative calendar can be found here. Below are the key dates of interest.
JANUARY 10 – First day of session (Iowa Code Sec. 2.1)

JANUARY 11 - Governors Condition of the State Address 

FEBRUARY 18 – Final date for Senate bills and joint resolutions to be reported out of Senate committees and House bills and joint resolutions out of House committees (First Funnel)

MARCH 18 – Final date for Senate bills and joint resolutions to be reported out of House committees and House bills and joint resolutions out of Senate committees (Second Funnel)

APRIL 19 – 100th calendar day of the session (Per diem expenses end)
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