Iowa lawmakers were racing against the clock last week, moving dozens of bills through committee in time for the March 3 “funnel” deadline. And Dennis Hart and I were racing against the clock Monday night trying to cover the most important legislation still alive for the 2023 session.
We couldn’t get to all of the impactful bills pending in the Iowa House or Senate during our 30-minute show. At Bleeding Heartland, you can read about one topic Dennis and I didn’t cover: the bills targeting Iowans who receive federal food assistance (SNAP benefits) or health care through Medicaid.
One more thing before I get to the recap: last Monday, Dennis and I discussed the recent Iowa Supreme Court oral arguments related to an open records lawsuit against Governor Kim Reynolds (I’m one of the plaintiffs). I summarized the key legal issues here. Anyway, last week the Iowa judicial branch posted the video of the oral arguments on YouTube.
On to the latest “Capitol Week,” from March 6:
Dennis and I may have covered a record number of topics this week:
The Republican caucus campaign: likely presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is coming to Iowa this Friday, declared presidential candidate Nikki Haley will visit the Des Moines suburbs for a second time, and Donald Trump is heading back to Iowa for the first time since he launched his 2024 campaign;
Prospects for DeSantis and Haley to get traction among Iowa Republicans (I’m skeptical);
Trump’s game plan, promising “retribution” and continuing to emphasize his false claims about the 2020 election;
The Iowa Senate passed a bill today (Senate File 84) that enhanced penalties for child sexual exploitation (this is a good example of how legislative debates can involve controversy, even when the vote on final passage ends up being unanimous);
What the March 3 deadline means and which kinds of bills are not subject to the funnel;
Dennis and I grouped the bills still alive by topic. First, Governor Reynolds’ health care bill (now numbered House File 427 and Senate File 324), which would increase funding for crisis pregnancy centers and other initiatives;
Education bills, starting with the governor’s wide-ranging “parental empowerment” proposal, now numbered Senate File 496. It would limit instruction on some subjects in early grade levels and put any book pulled from shelves in one school district on a statewide removal list;
At Bleeding Heartland, I published a deep dive on one aspect of the governor’s bill, which removes code language requiring Iowa schools to teach junior high and high school students about human papillomavirus (HPV), the vaccine that prevents HPV, and AIDS;
A separate bill (now numbered House File 597), which would ban books from K-12 school libraries and classrooms if they contain descriptions or visual depictions of sex acts.
A bill (now numbered House File 180) that “would prohibit school districts from providing accommodations intended to affirm a student’s change in gender identity”;
A bill (now numbered House File 616) that would prohibit Iowa’s state universities from spending money on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts;
The latest versions of “bathroom bills” (Senate File 482 and House File 622), which require transgender people to use school restrooms or locker rooms that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificate, rather than the facilities that match their gender identity (I had much more to say about this at Bleeding Heartland, including why bills targeting LGBTQ Iowans are getting so much more traction this year);
More anti-trans legislation being fast-tracked: House File 623 and Senate File 538, which would ban gender-affirming care for Iowans under age 18;
Sticking with the theme, (House File 348) would prohibit instruction "of any kind" about gender identity or sexual orientation from kindergarten through sixth grade;
The governor’s massive plan to restructure state government (now numbered Senate File 514 and House Study Bill 126), which passed out of the House State Government Committee shortly after midnight on March 3;
The House bill (now numbered House File 565) that would restrict the use of eminent domain for carbon dioxide pipelines;
Bills pending in both chambers (Senate File 542 and House Study Bill 134) that would relax child labor rules;
Another proposal (Senate File 481) that would reduce unemployment benefits for people with large families and impose more job search requirements;
The latest bill (Senate File 357) that would reinstate the death penalty (Senate File 14) and its prospects for advancing further;
A bill that would limit liability for trucking companies and cap non-economic damages for Iowans who are killed or suffer life-altering injuries in a crash with a commercial vehicle (Iowa Senate Republicans already passed Senate File 228, and it’s through a House committee);
Dennis and I spent a few minutes on bills that appear to be dead for the remainder of the 2023 session: a total abortion ban (House File 510) and bills targeting same-sex marriage (House File 508 and House Joint Resolution 8);
Youth-led protests against the Republican attacks on LGBTQ Iowans (thousands walked out of school on March 1, and at least a thousand people gathered outside the state capitol on March 5);
My reporting on Walgreens informing Attorney General Brenna Bird that the pharmacy chain won’t dispense mifepristone (often used in medication abortion) in Iowa;
The likely demise of President Joe Biden’s student loan debt relief plan, following U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments last week (I forgot to mention that Governor Reynolds signed Iowa on to of the lawsuits );
Today’s news that the state settled a lawsuit filed by former University of Iowa football players, who alleged racism and discrimination within the program (State Auditor Rob Sand objected to the state’s general fund paying half of the $4 million settlement, and head football coach Kirk Ferentz was unhappy that the state settled);
What I’m expecting to happen this week in the state legislature.
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Doug Burns: The Iowa Mercury, Carroll
Dave Busiek: Dave Busiek on Media, Des Moines
Art Cullen: Art Cullen’s Notebook, Storm Lake
Suzanna de Baca Dispatches from the Heartland, Huxley
Debra Engle: A Whole New World, Madison County
Julie Gammack: Julie Gammack’s Iowa Potluck, Des Moines and Okoboji
Joe Geha: Fern and Joe, Ames
Jody Gifford: Benign Inspiration, West Des Moines
Beth Hoffman: In the Dirt, Lovilla
Dana James: New Black Iowa, Des Moines
Pat Kinney: View from Cedar Valley, Waterloo
Fern Kupfer: Fern and Joe, Ames
Robert Leonard: Deep Midwest: Politics and Culture, Bussey
Tar Macias: Hola Iowa, Iowa
Kurt Meyer, Showing Up, St. Ansgar
Kyle Munson, Kyle Munson’s Main Street, Des Moines
Jane Nguyen, The Asian Iowan, West Des Moines
John Naughton: My Life, in Color, Des Moines
Chuck Offenburger: Iowa Boy Chuck Offenburger, Jefferson and Des Moines
Barry Piatt: Piatt on Politic Behind the Curtain, Washington, D.C.
Macey Spensley: The Midwest Creative, Iowa
Mary Swander: Mary Swander’s Buggy Land, Kalona
Mary Swander: Mary Swander’s Emerging Voices, Kalona
Cheryl Tevis: Unfinished Business, Boone County
Ed Tibbetts: Along the Mississippi, Davenport
Teresa Zilk: Talking Good, Des Moines
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Thank you for organizing all this news, Laurie.