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Feb. 21: Last week at the Iowa Legislature

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John Pemble
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Iowa's Capitol at night. John Pemble / IPR

Last Friday was the legislature's first "funnel deadline" of the session. This means many House and Senate bills that were not voted out of their original committees are likely "dead" and lawmakers won't have the opportunity to vote on them this year. To make things more complicated, there are a number of ways that lawmakers can bring bills back, so no measure is ever truly dead.

Here's what went on at the Capitol last week:

Bills on obscene books, transgender athletes and school vouchers still alive in the Statehouse

Several education proposals have survived the first funnel deadline. Gov. Kim Reynolds’ priority bill on education includes a plan to create voucher-style “student first scholarships” that could be spent on tuition at a private school.

A bill that would prohibit transgender girls from participating in girls’ athletics in Iowa was advanced by the House Education Committee, moving the bill to the House floor. A similar bill is advancing in the Senate, as well. When asked about the proposed ban, Reynolds said allowing transgender girls to compete would “do away with girls’ sports.”

And a proposal called a “Parent Bill of Rights” was passed through the Senate Education Committee. The bill would put together in one place several provisions of existing state and federal law that lay out parents’ ability to see school materials, check on their children or review school records.

Iowa House committee approves bill banning vaccine and mask requirements

Republicans on an Iowa House committee have approved a wide-ranging bill to ban vaccine and mask mandates. The bill says schools, employers and government entities shall not ask a person about or maintain records of a person’s medical treatment status, which includes vaccinations. It also says none of these entities can make hiring or firing decisions or deny services or facilities to people based on their vaccination status.

Iowa House approves 4 percent flat income tax

Republicans in the Iowa House have passed a bill that would phase in a flat income tax of 4 percent and eliminate taxes on retirement income. The bill would also give tax breaks to retired farmers and people who retire from employee-owned companies. The vote was 61 to 37, with three Democrats joining Republicans in support of the bill.

Bills that didn't make it through the first funnel

Bills that would put limits on the use of eminent domain for the proposed carbon capture pipelines didn’t make it past committee, even though landowners came to the statehouse last week, asking lawmakers for more protection from these pipelines.

A bill that would have given county election officials a bit more time to start mailing absentee ballots to voters also didn’t make it.

For even more on Iowa politics and legislation, subscribe to the Political Sense weekly newsletter and check out the weekly podcast Under the Golden Dome.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter
Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter.