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Listen: It’s another funnel week at the Iowa Capitol

The second legislative deadline for lawmakers to get most bills approved by a committee is coming up at the end of this week.

Last week, the Iowa House passed a bill to raise salaries for teachers and school support staff, a bill that would ban absentee ballot drop boxes and make other election law changes and a bill that would increase criminal penalties for killing an 'unborn person' without the pregnant person’s consent.

In the Senate, lawmakers passed a bill to let state law enforcement arrest some undocumented immigrants for being in the state. Another bill would ban citizen police review boards.

Increasing teacher pay

Gov. Kim Reynolds proposed increasing teacher pay as part of her bill to overhaul the state’s special education system. The House separated its bill on Area Education Agencies from the teacher pay issue, and now it's passed both of those bills. The teacher pay raise bill had nearly unanimous support last week.

In the Senate, lawmakers were still considering those two issues as one big bill. They were scheduled to vote on it last week, but it was pulled from the list at the last minute.

Reynolds also wrote a letter last week to some superintendents that seemed to indicate that she’s still pushing hard for her proposal to let school districts decide who they contract with for special education services — and for her proposal to raise teacher pay. The House and Senate have different ideas about that as well.


K-12 school funding still hasn’t been approved by the Legislature

The House passed its proposal for a 3% funding increase a few weeks ago, but the Senate hasn’t passed anything. A Friday deadline looms for school boards to publish a first draft of their proposed budgets for the next school year, but they still don’t know how much money they’re going to get from the state.

This week, Republican leaders will either have to figure out that funding level or potentially push back the deadline for school districts if they can’t come to an agreement.

Democrats are tying a bill to raise penalties for killing an 'unborn person' to an Alabama Supreme Court ruling on frozen embryos

A Republican-backed bill in the House would raise penalties for killing an "unborn person" without the pregnant person’s consent. Democrats are bringing up what happened in Alabama, where in vitro fertilization was paused after that state’s supreme court ruled frozen embryos are children, because the bill changes the terminology of the current criminal code from nonconsensually “terminating a human pregnancy” to “causing the death of an unborn person."

Democrats say this would establish fetal personhood in Iowa’s criminal code and that it has the potential for fertility clinics — which routinely discard unused or unviable embryos as part of IVF — to face criminal charges if those embryos are considered people.

But Republicans say this unborn person definition is already in state abortion laws and it hasn’t affected IVF. They say it’s just meant to raise penalties for people who hurt pregnant women.

Bills to watch during funnel week:

Those bills would have to get through the Senate Education Committee this week to remain eligible for debate.
Some of the governor’s priorities are hanging in the balance ahead of this deadline as well. Reynolds’ bill that would define “man” and “woman” in state law based on a person’s sex assigned at birth hasn’t been brought up for a vote in the House. The bill would also require transgender Iowans’ birth certificates to show their sex assigned at birth and current gender identity. It’s unclear if that bill will make it through this week’s funnel deadline.

Reynolds has also proposed for several years to let people get birth control directly from a pharmacist without first seeing a doctor. That also hasn’t gotten a vote in the House. She’s also proposed changes to how kids are taught to read. It's not clear if any bills on that topic will move forward.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter