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Several big bills await Reynolds' signature after 10th week of the Statehouse session

Gold dome of Iowa capitol against a gray-blue sky
Madeleine Charis King

Gov. Kim Reynolds has three major bills awaiting her signature after Republican lawmakers sent more priorities to her desk last week.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has three major bills awaiting her signature after Republican lawmakers sent more priorities to her desk last week.

Government reorganization

Reynolds made reorganizing and streamlining the state government a priority in her Condition of the State address at the start of the 2023 session. The 1,500-page government reorganization bill passed through both chambers and returned to Reynolds with a few minor changes.

Democrats in the House proposed more than a dozen amendments to the bill, most of which received a little bit of Republican support. The most popular proposal would have removed a section that would allow the Iowa attorney general to intervene in a county attorney’s prosecution even if they don’t request help. All of the Democrats’ proposed amendments ultimately failed.

Republican lawmakers decided to keep existing requirements for legislative approval to close the Iowa School for the Deaf. They also ensured that Community-Based Corrections workers would keep their enhanced benefits after they’re moved under the umbrella of the Iowa Department of Corrections.

Restricting school bathroom use to gender assigned at birth

Republican lawmakers passed a bill that would bar transgender students in K-12 schools from using bathrooms or locker rooms that align with their gender identity. It would leave unisex single occupancy bathrooms as one of the only options for transgender students.

Republican lawmakers said the goal of the bill is to protect the privacy and safety of all kids and that the legislation doesn’t target trans kids because it requires schools to make accommodations for students or anyone else who is uncomfortable with their options.

Democrats questioned Republicans’ safety concerns, and House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights, said the bill creates new safety risks for trans students as well as the potential for discrimination and harassment.

What else happened last week

The Iowa Senate unanimously passed a bill approving a new state licensure category for Rural Emergency Hospitals, which supporters hope will help struggling hospitals avoid closure.

Republicans in the Senate advanced a bill that would gradually reduce and eventually eliminate the state income tax, but House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, hinted this may not be the year to pass that measure. He said he wants Iowans to see the effects of the massive tax cuts that were passed last year, which aren’t yet fully phased in.

The president of the Iowa Board of Regents ordered the state’s three public universities to pause implementation of any new diversity, equity and inclusion programs. Three board members will be assigned to lead a review of current programs in response to a bill advanced by Republican lawmakers that would bar the universities from spending money on DEI staff and offices.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter
Michael Leland is IPR's News Director
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.