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Under the Golden Dome hosted by John Pemble
Under the Golden Dome
Weekly during the Iowa legislative session

The policymaking process in the Iowa Legislature can be complicated. Host John Pemble breaks it down and makes it easier to understand. Under the Golden Dome provides context, depth and a better understanding of the Iowa legislative session and the laws that come out of it. Learn about the elected officials, influencers, issues and bills working their way through the statehouse.

Latest Episodes
  • The 2022 Iowa legislative session ends after many weeks of little to no activity in the House or Senate. During a busy two days, final budget bills are approved. Most come revised from the Senate including the education appropriation that funds the public universities. Also a number of policy bills are eligible for the governor to consider, including one changing Iowa’s four decade old can and bottle redemption law. One of the final bills, known as the “standings bill” includes a section that removes the open enrollment deadline for Iowa’s public schools.
  • Around this time, legislators who have announced they aren’t seeking re-election in the Iowa legislature are granted a “retirement” speech from the chamber floor. Between the House and Senate, around 35 legislators are not running for re-election. A few are seeking to run in the other chamber and there are some running for congressional seats. Some of these decisions are also due to redistricting. Also, many large budget bills have passed in the House, but so far the Senate has not taken them up. With the legislature near the end and moving at a slower pace, this podcast will pause until the session has gaveled out for the year.
  • Proposals about public schools pass in the Senate and House requiring online publishing of curriculums. Private schools are exempt from doing the same. Unlike the House version, the Senate’s includes millions of dollars in scholarships for students attending private schools. One Republican says this is necessary after accusing some public schools of promoting a “leftist agenda.” And the House passes a budget with no increase to the regents universities’ general fund. But the bill does propose appropriating $12 million for new scholarships.
  • A bill requiring teachers to post everything they use in a classroom online before a semester begins, advances. After a committee, it now has something that may let teachers update that information as they teach. Budgets are now starting to pass out of the House. Democrats say the $1 billion surplus should be used to provide more funds to state departments. And the longest debate so far this year is for a bill about unemployment benefits. It reduces the maximum number of weeks for unemployment. Republicans say it’s part of a solution for a workforce shortage, but Democrats strongly disagree.
  • The Department of Corrections director lays out the condition of the prisons to a committee that determines its annual budget. The House reduces one budget item, makes it up with money from a previous fiscal year, then allocates 7 million new dollars for fiscal year 2023. The House passes a bill allowing midwifery to be licensed in Iowa, but the bill is derailed in a Senate committee. And a bill changing how Iowa’s four decades old container redemption system operates advances from a subcommittee. It would collect millions of dollars in unclaimed deposits, but when coming to the full committee an entirely different version of the bill advances.
  • A bill removing Senate confirmation for some of the governor’s appointees advances. Confirmation for those exempt appointees is still possible if 26 senators want it, but the 18 Democrats in the Senate say it isn’t fair. A bill that would overturn an Iowa Supreme Court ruling about police searching garbage without a warrant passes in the Senate. As it comes to a House committee, the bill’s potential to become a law that stays on the books is in question. There’s a proposal that would require the state to send everyone a letter calculating how much or less their property taxes would be under local government budget proposals. And a bipartisan bill that would change Iowa to Daylight Saving Time year-round clears the House.
  • Two of the governor’s priorities advance at the Capitol. First, a bill creating scholarships for private schools advances from a committee. It also requires teachers to publish online everything that will be used in the classroom. And, the Senate passes a bill banning transgender girls from playing on female sports teams at K-12 schools, colleges and universities in Iowa. The governor signs the bill into law. In the House, two drug-related bills pass. One is about experimental treatments for people on ventilators. It would allow for drugs like ivermectin to be used during treatment. And the other increases penalties for having smaller amounts of heroin. It targets drug dealers but opponents say it doesn’t help drug addicts.
  • There are state requirements for staff levels at child care facilities. A bill comes to the full Senate for debate that increases the ratio of staff for young children. In the House there are bills involving interests with Israel, including one related to Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. And a ban on transgender girls and women playing on girls’ and women’s sports teams passes the House.
  • The House passes a bill that will gradually lower income tax rates. It requires the state to consistently have a revenue growth of 3.5% for several years. Republicans say last year’s nearly billion dollar surplus should be used to reduce taxes. As school spending is approved by both chambers at a growth of 2.5%, Democrats say it should be higher especially with the recent surplus. Bills race to be passed out of committees during this funnel week, where most bills must pass out of one chamber’s full committee to remain eligible. One includes a prohibition on allowing any land to be purchased by China and another is an emergency bill allowing para-educators to continue as substitute teachers.
  • There are two versions of a bill about equal treatment for religious and secular organizations. The Senate version contains language some say could invite discrimination and evasion of Iowa laws, but the House version does not. A Senate bill advances that would require the State Board of Education to create course standards for elective social studies classes about the Bible. And a House bill would prohibit transgender girl athletes from being on girls’ school sports teams.