Advocacy Strategies Update 2/11

With the First legislative Funnel deadline quickly approaching, lawmakers held countless subcommittees and nearly every committee moved bills forward this week to ensure priority issues can be considered on the floor after the funnel. Besides the large volume of subcommittee and committee work, the Senate held their first floor debate of the session on Wednesday passing a handful of noncontroversial bills.

On Thursday, the House Republicans and Democrats caucused for several hours prior to debating the supplemental school aid legislation which always comes early in the session so schools can set their budgets in a timely manner. The House passed their proposal for a 2.5% increase in K-12 school funding in a 57-39 vote after a lengthy debate, while the Senate is currently proposing a 2.25% percent increase and will likely debate this issue early next week.

Legislative Tax Proposals

This week the House moved their tax plan, HSB 626 (Now renumbered as HF 2317), out of the Ways and Means Committee on a party-line 14-10 vote after an hours-long debate. This follows the Senate Ways and Means Committee approving its broader tax plan, SF 2206, last week. The House plan does not include corporate tax cut structures like the Governor and Senate plans, but the Senate stands alone in their proposal to fund IWILL by making local option sales taxes statewide. The House will hold a public hearing on their tax plan Monday, February 14 at 5 pm. You can sign up to testify or leave comments here. We predict the tax plan negotiations will take several weeks before a final version is released and debated in each chamber.

Vaccine Bill Public Hearing

On Thursday members of the House State Government Committee heard hours of testimony on HSB 647, the Medical Freedom Act. The bill was introduced after months of negotiation by Republican legislators concerning vaccine and mask mandates. The legislation would strike the current prohibitions against businesses requiring proof of COVID immunizations and enacts a broad restriction against schools, businesses, employers, and governments from asking about medical treatments, immunizations, and immunization passports. The bill would also prohibit businesses from requiring masks based on the medical history/immunization of a person. The hearing was largely attended by freedom advocacy group members arguing against vaccine and mask mandates. The healthcare community is almost entirely registered against the legislation. It was indicated the bill will move forward and the language negotiated over the coming weeks.

Key Initiatives

On Monday the AS team and Mark Wyatt had discussions with Representatives Best, Bush, and Thorup regarding HF 2015, IBC’s standardizing penalties for steering unreasonably close to a bicyclist legislation. Representative Best informed us he would put the bill forward to his Transportation Committee caucus on Wednesday and ask if they had the votes. The AS team and Mark Wyatt continue to activate IBC members to reach out to committee members to get this bill through the committee prior to the funnel deadline next week.

On Wednesday the AS team helped support IBC Day at the Capitol. IBC advocates had great conversations with Representatives Best, Gerhold, Mommsen, Staed, Hansen, Bradley, Westrich, Kressig, Sexton, Siegrist, and Dunwell and Senators Petersen, Shipley, Boulton, Koelker, Williams, and Bolkcom. These conversations focused on IBC priority issues regarding standardizing penalties for causing injury or death of a bicyclist, IWILL, and hands-free driving.

Then on Wednesday afternoon following considerable outreach to committee members who were questioning the bill by the AS and IBC teams the House Transportation Committee unanimously passed HF 2015, IBC’s standardizing penalties for steering unreasonably close to a bicyclist legislation, in a 19-0 vote. The bill now moves to the House floor for consideration and has made it past the first funnel deadline.

On Thursday the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee of Shultz, Sinclair and Bolkcom listened to concerns from the RAGBRAI community brought forward by Sen. Dickey outlined in SF 2162, RAGBRAI Business Operations which prohibits a law enforcement officer from interfering with the legal operation of a business during a statewide bike ride. RAGBRAI officials and law enforcement stated their positions and agreed to work together to address concerns. Senators appreciated the conversation, but didn’t act, asking for additional information before moving the bill forward. Sen. Dickey spoke very passionately about why he brought the bill forward while Mark Wyatt encouraged the two groups to work together to find resolution keeping safety top of mind. Senators said they have until the end of next week to take action on the bill.

Looking Forward

And just like that, the First Legislative Funnel Week is here! As of Friday, February 18, all bills except for appropriations and tax policy items will need to be passed out of a full committee to be considered for the remainder of the session. This week will be one of the busiest of the session with packed schedules of subcommittees and committees already released by both the House and Senate. Committee blocks will be much longer with extensive closed-door discussions where members will debate bills internally to consider whether to move them forward. With the busy week ahead, a list of scheduled committees and subcommittees with their virtual access information can be found at the provided link. If you have challenges connecting with the virtual link, you can always call in as well.

There will likely be very limited floor action in the coming week and no budget hearings are scheduled. We ask you to be prepared for surprises and to respond to any bill introduced and fast-tracked as quickly as possible. Anything goes as policymakers try to beat the first deadline. Your weekly reports will highlight all the actions from the coming week, and we will update your tracking to reflect bills alive following the first funnel.

Dates to Note

Feb. 18 – First Funnel Deadline
Mar. 18 – Election Filing Deadline
Second Funnel Deadline
Apr. 19 – 100th Day of Session

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