© 2024 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Several LGBTQ-focused bills, public assistance changes get through legislative deadline

Rainbow pride flags wave in front of the Iowa Statehouse.
Madeleine Charis King
More than a thousand Iowans gathered at the Capitol in 2023 to protest multiple bills introduced in the state Legislature that targeted LGBTQ people.

Friday, March 3 was the first major legislative deadline of the 2023 session. To get through “funnel week,” most bills need approval by a committee in either chamber in order to move forward.

Last week, Republican lawmakers quickly introduced and advanced a bill to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth. They also advanced bills that would change public assistance eligibility and put restrictions on carbon capture pipelines past the “funnel” deadline. Gov. Kim Reynolds’ plan to reorganize the state government also advanced.

Ban on gender-affirming care

Bills that would block minors from receiving gender-affirming health care moved forward in both the Iowa House and Senate.

The bills would prohibit Iowa doctors from providing transgender youth with hormone treatments or surgery. Violating the proposal would put a doctor at risk of possibly losing their medical license or facing a lawsuit, either from a person who received treatment or the state attorney general.

Supporters say the bill is a way to protect against a child or teenager making an irreversible medical transition. But Democrats and advocates opposed to the bill say it creates unnecessary obstacles for transgender youth to receive care that can reduce their risk of depression or suicide.

Kids all across the state responded last week by walking out of school to protest this bill and other anti-LGBTQ proposals that have been moving forward in the legislature. More than a thousand protestors also gathered at the Capitol Sunday for a rally hosted by several LGBTQ-rights organizations.

Eminent domain restrictions move forward

A bill to restrict eminent domain use for carbon capture pipelines in the state has advanced, for now. The bill has some opposition from both Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate. Gov. Kim Reynolds has not said whether or not she would support the measure if it is sent to her desk.

Public assistance changes

Both chambers advanced bills that would change eligibility requirements for food and health care assistance for low-income Iowans.

Both measures would require Iowans to undergo an asset test and stay below a certain threshold to receive assistance. The House bill would also seek federal permission for Medicaid work requirements and to ban candy and soda from the food assistance program.

Republicans say this proposal is important in order to keep public assistance going to those who truly need it. Democrats say it will put up barriers for people to access help.

What didn’t make it past the funnel deadline

House Speaker Pat Grassley said Thursday that a bill filed last week to ban same-sex marriage would not move forward.

A group of 20 Republican lawmakers filed a bill last week that would ban all abortions and declare that life begins at conception, which also did not advance past the funnel deadline. Grassley says Republican leaders still want to wait for an Iowa Supreme Court decision on abortion, which is expected in late spring or summer, before passing new restrictions.

Exceptions to funnel week

Bills that go through Government Oversight, Ways and Means, or Appropriations committees are not subject to Friday’s legislative deadline. There is a bill in the Senate that would eventually repeal the state income tax, but it’s unclear if that will continue to move forward. Republican lawmakers have also put forward bills to enact changes to Iowa’s property tax system, which party leaders said was a major priority leading into the session.

Subscribe to IPR's Political Sense, a weekly newsletter that helps you keep up with local and national politics.

* indicates required

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter
Clay Masters is the senior politics reporter for MPR News.
As the newsletter product manager, Madeleine (she/her) coordinates and writes for Iowa Public Radio’s newsletter portfolio, including The Daily Digest and Political Sense.