Week of January 24, 2022
This Week in the Iowa Legislature
The hustle and bustle of the legislative session was evident this week as policymakers got their feet under them and settled into a full schedule of subcommittee and committee work. Although bill introductions have been slow coming with less than 500 bills introduced between the chambers as compared to sessions past, we expect to see many more bills introduced as we inch closer to the first funnel deadline. This week the House focused on addressing some of the Governor’s priorities including legislation addressing mental health and child care workforce issues and her renewable fuel access bill which will require all retail outlets to offer E-15 by 2026.

Both chambers introduced their tax bills with various pieces of the Governor’s proposed tax bill. The House plan is the most similar modeling the Governor’s with one exception, they haven’t included corporate tax cuts in their proposal, although they are leaving it open for discussion. The Senate has taken a completely diffident approach to funding tax cuts and accomplishing their tax relief goals. Below you will find a chart printed in the Des Moines Register comparing the proposals.

The Differences

The Senate Republicans are proposing a flat income tax rate 0.4% lower than the House and Governor and an eventual elimination of the state income tax altogether. The House’s plan is the only proposal to not include corporate tax rate cuts. The Senate plan addresses water quality and outdoor recreation advocates’ call for IWLL funding, but not in the way anyone expected.

What’s Clear

Iowan’s can most likely expect to see a decrease in their income tax in the coming years. Retirement income will also become tax free regardless of which proposal prevails. Democrats are not sold on all of the proposals outlined but believe some tax relief measures can be incorporated and plan to introduce their own plan soon. Democrats firmly believe the tax cuts can go to the middle- and low-income taxpayers. House and Senate Democrat leaders continue to issue caution about the size and extent of the cuts, expressing concerns about not having enough funding for essential services like infrastructure needs, education, health care, and public safety.

Key Initiatives
On Tuesday the House Transportation Committee passed HF 392, Electronic Device Use/Hands-Free Driving (Renumbered as HF 2129), in a 19-1 vote with Representative Bush opposed. The bill would prohibit any use of an electronic communications device while driving with exemptions for public safety, health, emergency, and utility workers. It would also require warning citations until January 2023 and raised the fines for violations. Representative Bush is opposed to bill because it does not include an exemption for farmers driving farm equipment which he argued moves much slower and in a safer manner. The Iowa Bicycle Coalition spoke in strong support of this bill which had no opposition. Then on Thursday the Senate companion to the bill SF 330 was unanimously passed by the Senate Transportation Committee and now awaits a floor vote in both chambers.

On Wednesday the AS team and Mark Wyatt met with Senate Transportation Committee Chair Waylon Brown to discuss IBC’s priorities this session including the hands-free bill, standardizing penalties for steering unreasonably close to a bicyclist and causing injury or death, and adding bicyclists to crosswalk yield requirements. Senator Brown was open to all of these items and said to keep him updated as they move through the process.

On Thursday the House Transportation subcommittee of Representatives Siegrist, Ann Meyer, and Brian Meyer unanimously passed HF 2015, IBC’s standardizing penalties for steering unreasonably close to a bicyclist legislation. IBC testified in support of the legislation and arranged for advocate Angela Lindberg to share her story to the committee. The bill now awaits consideration by the full House Transportation Committee.

Looking Forward
As we have seen over the past week, subcommittee and committee work will only continue to increase and intensify as we head to the first funnel deadline only a short three weeks away. As a reminder, 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.

Last week, House Republican leadership indicated they would release their plan for school aid to meet their self-imposed February deadline so schools can certify their budgets. We anticipate both chambers will work on school funding, workforce initiatives, and their tax bills this next week.Bills of Interest
Advocacy Strategies continues to track all bills pertaining to you. Along with this email report, each week you will find a linked excel spreadsheet with the bills you have registered for or which we are waiting for a declaration. Please review this and confirm your declarations are correct. Please let us know if there are any changes that need to be made.

Dates to Note

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