Jan 24: Last week at the Iowa Legislature
It's week three of the 2022 legislative session. Here's what you might have missed from the Statehouse last week:
Here's what went on at the Capitol last week:
Reynolds proposes corporate tax cuts
The Iowa legislature has made tax cuts a major priority in the 2022 Iowa legislative session. Last week, Gov. Kim Reynolds released her tax plan, which Republican lawmakers say they will use as a starting point for their own legislation. Along with changes she outlined in the Condition of the State address, the bill includes proposed tax cuts for corporations. If passed, estimates show it could reduce the corporate tax rate from 9.8 percent to 8.8 percent by 2027. A Department of Revenue memo says that would cost the state about $300 million over the next five years. As she stated previously, Reynolds wants to phase in a 4 percent flat income tax over the next 4 years. This week, we expect to hear more details about tax plans from House and Senate Republicans.
Iowa House Republican proposals focus on expanding mental health workforce and increasing the number of beds
Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge, is proposing four bills that would increase the number of available mental health beds and try to keep more psychiatrists working in the state. Meyer is proposing a state-funded program to train psychiatrists at state mental health facilities. That bill advanced with bipartisan support. Meyer is also calling for a 50 percent increase in the number of beds at the two state mental health institutes, a psychiatrist loan repayment program and a new payment rate for hospitals to care for people with the highest level of mental health needs.
Iowa senators advance bill to prevent law enforcement, local governments from enforcing federal gun regulations
Republican state Senator and congressional candidate Zach Nunn, of Bondurant, sponsored what’s called the Second Amendment Preservation Act. The bill would prohibit state and local police from enforcing federal gun regulations. He says it needs some changes, but it’s meant to send a message that Iowa won’t tolerate federal overreach. The bill says violations would result in a $50,000 fine for the city or law enforcement agency. Gun control advocates are very concerned because the bill could keep local police from working with federal agencies to combat gun trafficking, or even prevent police from removing guns from convicted domestic abusers.
Iowa Senate proposal strengthens exemptions to school vaccine requirements
A bill advancing in the Senate would preempt local cities and school districts from adding to a list of required vaccines for children in school and child care. If the bill passes, only the appointed members of the State Board of Health could add new vaccines to the list, which covers illnesses like whooping cough and polio, but not COVID-19. The bill would also allow families to opt out of vaccine requirements for medical and religious reasons, even during a pandemic; currently the Board of Health can decide that exemptions will not apply in a public health emergency. The bill was moved out of the Education committee to the full Senate.
What else we're watching:
Iowa lawmakers test positive for the coronavirus
At least five people in the Iowa Legislature have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a spokesperson for the House Democrats. The Republican majority made it optional to report a positive case, and masks aren’t required in the Statehouse.
Iowa lawmaker reverses call for changes to eminent domain process
Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, has reversed his call for eminent domain changes related to carbon pipelines as three major proposals are active in the state. Kaufmann said last week at least 70 percent of landowners in a proposed pipeline’s path should have to agree before the company can ask state regulators to take land from those who don’t agree. But he said he won't pursue those changes this year in a news release from Iowa House Republicans Wednesday.
For even more on Iowa politics and legislation, subscribe to the Political Sense weekly newsletter.