It's funnel week at the Statehouse
It’s funnel week at the Capitol. The first legislative deadline requires bills to get approved by a committee or the proposal could get cut for the session, but there are several exceptions to this deadline. Republicans at the Statehouse have already advanced or passed many of their key priorities and will be making decisions this week on what to push through to the rest of the session.
Where Gov. Kim Reynolds’ 2023 priorities stand
The governor has been making progress on her priorities for the current legislative session. Reynolds signed a bill earlier this month that limits the amount of money Iowa victims of medical malpractice can get for non-economic injuries like pain and suffering.
The governor also signed a law that created tax-funded Education Savings Accounts for students to attend private schools back in January. After that law passed, Reynolds pledged to turn her attention to transparency rules in Iowa public schools. The governor then introduced a bill that would ban instruction about gender identity and sexual activity in kindergarten through third grade, restrict access to books statewide if they were banned in a single school district and require transgender students to get a parent’s consent to use a different name or pronouns at school. Reynolds’ bill has yet to be approved by a committee as of Monday morning.
GOP considering restrictions to gender-affirming care
House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, says House Republicans are considering legislation to restrict gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. The House Government Oversight Committee held a hearing last week to interview doctors who provide gender-affirming care to kids and teens in Iowa.
Overhauling the state government
The governor’s 1,500-page bill to streamline state government has passed this legislative deadline after advancing in a Senate committee, but representatives in the House are still working through subcommittee hearings on the proposal.
Iowans who are blind and members of the Deaf community have been at the Statehouse in the last few weeks advocating against certain parts of the bill. Specifically, they’ve raised concerns with proposals that would have the governor select the director of the Iowa Department for the Blind and potentially allow the governor to close the Iowa School for the Deaf without the Legislature’s permission.
Under the proposal, the Iowa Child Advocacy Board would be merged or attached to the state Department of Health and Human Services, which also runs the state's child welfare program. Advocates affiliated with the board argued against this move, saying it creates a conflict of interest.
Concerns over eminent domain continue to loom large
Iowans living in or near the path of proposed carbon capture pipelines rallied at the Statehouse last week in opposition to three proposed carbon pipeline projects in the state.
A bill that advanced in the Iowa House last week would put new restrictions on the use of eminent domain for carbon capture pipelines. House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, is one of the bill's co-sponsors. He says he expects the bill to get through the House Judiciary Committee and pass funnel week.
Watch for which bills survive the first legislative deadline and any last-minute bills that are introduced and pushed through this week.