2020 Legislative Session

Iowa's 88th General Assembly resumes its work representing the priorities and citizens of Iowa Monday, January 13th. With Republican majorities in both houses of the legislature and a Republican governor in office, key legislative priorities for the 2020 session are expected to be finding more solutions for the state's workforce shortage, passing a constitutional amendment to restore felon voting rights, funding mental health services, and changing Iowa's medical cannabis law. The legislature will adjourn in spring, once the annual state budget has been passed and submitted to Governor Reynolds. 

If you want the latest on news and priorities from the statehouse, IPR News is your source:

  • State Government Reporter Katarina Sostaric provides daily reports on the actions of the legislature – reporting on legislative priorities and committees, votes in the chambers, and ultimately, the bills that will be passed during the 2020 session. Her reports can be heard throughout the day on IPR’s News and News/Studio One signals.
  • Mondays at noon, River to River, co-hosted by Ben Kieffer and Katarina Sostaric, is an expanded conversation with lawmakers, those who want to influence policy, and Iowans who may be impacted by legislative action. You’ll learn about why lawmakers are supporting certain priorities. It’s also an opportunity for you to join the conversation to ask questions or share your thoughts. You can join the conversation by calling 866-780-9100 or submit questions via e-mailFacebook, or Twitter.
  • Our weekly podcast Under the Golden Dome recaps legislative action. Reporter John Pemble summarizes the noteworthy activities of the past week. He takes you to the debates, the rallies, and the events at the statehouse, and captures the evolution of priorities and legislation from the beginning to the end of the session.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said outside experts will be asked to review operations at DHS facilities in Glenwood to recommend ways to fix gaps in care.
Grant Gerlock / IPR file

Gov. Kim Reynolds acknowledged Tuesday her June 2019 firing of former Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven was partly related to his response to concerns about increased deaths at a state-run facility for disabled residents.

Lindsey Moon and John Pemble / IPR

The 2020 Iowa Legislature gaveled in for the session on Jan. 13. They're scheduled to continue meeting at the Statehouse until sometime around April 21. Over the course of the 100 days lawmakers have to conduct business, file and debate legislation, and pass bills, there are two important deadlines. 

John Pemble / IPR file

Iowa lawmakers considered dozens of bills last week ahead of a legislative deadline known as the first “funnel” of the 2020 session.

Most bills that don’t relate to taxes or budgets had to pass through a subcommittee and full committee by the end of last week to remain eligible for debate. 

Natalie Krebs / IPR

In some parts of Iowa when you call 911, there’s no guarantee that an ambulance will be available, and this is a big problem in rural areas, where volunteers are scarce. That’s because emergency medical services are not considered essential, like fire or police.


John Pemble / IPR

During funnel week, dozens of bills come before subcommittees hoping to make it past the committee level to stay in play for the rest of the session. One bill that would add clarity about “bona fide religious purpose” to Iowa Civil Rights Act of 1965 doesn't make it. Legislators say the language is too broad for it to advance. A bill requiring vaccination information to be on a child's death certificate passes a committee and is eligible for floor detate. And two bills about Iowa’s 41-year-old can and bottle redemption program come before subcommittees.

solar panels
Warren McKenna / Farmers Electric Coop

A controversial bill that would have allowed utilities to charge extra fees to Iowans with solar panels is being changed to a proposal that almost all stakeholders praised at a subcommittee meeting Thursday.

The original version of the bill pitted MidAmerican Energy against environmental groups and pork producers. The Senate passed it last year, but it did not have enough support to get through the Iowa House of Representatives.

John Pemble / IPR file

State lawmakers are behind schedule when it comes to passing funding for K-12 education. Republican leaders in the Iowa House and Senate still have not come to an agreement on how to reconcile their competing proposals.

jeff edler
John Pemble / IPR

Cities and counties would not be allowed to ban housing voucher discrimination under a bill that advanced in an Iowa Senate committee Thursday.

Federal housing assistance in the form of a voucher allows low-income families to choose a place to live. The federal government covers part of the cost of rent. A local public housing agency administers the funding and enters into a contract with the landlord in addition to the tenant’s lease. The landlord is responsible for maintaining certain health and safety standards.

Sen. Jeff Edler, R-State Center, proposed the bill.

iowa capitol
John Pemble / IPR file

A House panel tabled a bill Wednesday that would ban Iowa health care providers from trying to change a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

House State Government Committee Chair Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, said people on both sides of the issue raised too many concerns about his proposal to advance it ahead of this week’s legislative deadline. 

mobile home press conference
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A key Republican lawmaker said Wednesday he will not advance a bipartisan bill to strengthen protections for mobile home residents ahead of a legislative deadline.

The proposal from Republicans and Democrats came in response to out-of-state companies buying some Iowa mobile home parks and significantly raising rent. It would allow rent increases tied to inflation, with exceptions. 

house committee
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Republicans on an Iowa Senate panel advanced a bill Tuesday that would add requirements around providing an ultrasound before an abortion, and that requires a three-day waiting period between the ultrasound and the abortion.

There is already a 72-hour waiting period under Iowa law, but the Iowa Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional in 2018 and blocked it from taking effect.

State senators Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig (left), and Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, listen to testimony about a proposal to require work for some Medicaid recipients.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

Updated Thursday, February 20: The Labor and Business Relations Committee advanced a Medicaid work requirements bill (SSB 3158) Thursday, making it eligible for debate in the Iowa Senate.

Kate Payne/IPR file

A bipartisan proposal to give mobile home residents more rights and protections advanced in the Iowa House Monday.

Restricting rent increases, mandating 180 days’ notice before raising rent, and requiring good cause to evict tenants are just some of the provisions in the lengthy bill. Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate crafted it together after an out-of-state company bought some Iowa mobile home parks in 2019 and started phasing in steep rent increases.

John Pemble / IPR

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and IPR statehouse reporter Katarina Sostaric speak with lawmakers from both parties about a proposed amendment to the Iowa Constitution that could open the door to more abortion restrictions within the state.

John Pemble / IPR file

An Iowa House subcommittee has passed a bill that would allow college athletes to earn money from endorsement deals, despite concerns raised by university groups that it would add to a growing patchwork of state laws.

John Pemble / IPR

One of the first legislative debates of the year is over school state aid. Forty-three percent of the state’s budget goes to K-12 public education. This year the Senate and House are at odds over how much to increase funding. A bill in the House Education subcommittee has advanced that would require K-12 schools to notify parents if sexual orientation or gender identity are part of curriculum or school instruction of any kind. Parents would have the option of excusing the student from participating. And compensating college athletes for the use of their likeness would no longer be prohibited under a bill from a Senate subcommitte


subcommittee
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Republican lawmakers on a House panel advanced a bill Thursday that would require abortion providers to inform patients that it “may be possible to reverse” a medication abortion, though there isn’t enough reliable scientific evidence to support the practice, and some evidence suggests it could cause harm.

John Pemble/IPR

The Iowa Senate passed a resolution Thursday that would amend the state constitution to say it does not protect abortion rights.

John Pemble / IPR file

Republicans in the Iowa Senate are advancing a religious freedom bill that opponents say would weaken civil rights protections. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SF 508) would raise the legal threshold to enforce a state or local law when a person says it violates their faith.

Sen. Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City, listens to testimony at a subcommittee considering a constitutional amendment raising the threshold for passing an income tax increase.
John Pemble / IPR

Law enforcement agencies would be required to collect information on offenses committed by immigrants who aren’t U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents under a bill advanced Tuesday in the Iowa Senate. 

kim reynolds
John Pemble / IPR file

This story was updated at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12. 

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday she can't comment on a lawsuit brought by former staff of the troubled state-run Glenwood Resource Center for severely disabled residents.

MedPharm's Aliviar branded medical cannabis products were on display at the MedPharm manufacturing facility in Des Moines Wednesday, October 17, 2018.
Katarina Sostaric / IPR file

A bill that advanced Tuesday in the Iowa House of Representatives would expand some parts of Iowa’s medical cannabis program, but disagreement remains about the amount of THC, the chemical that can make cannabis users high, patients should be allowed to purchase.

dawson and bisignano
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Republicans on an Iowa Senate panel advanced a bill Monday to exclude some Iowans with felony convictions from automatic voting rights restoration if a proposed constitutional amendment to expand felon voting rights passes.

John Pemble / IPR File

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and IPR statehouse reporter Katarina Sostaric speak with lawmakers from both parties about the ongoing debate within the Iowa house and senate regarding how much of the state budget will go toward funding k-12 education. 

John Pemble / IPR file photo

An Iowa House subcommittee passed a bill (HSB 615) Monday that would prohibit local ordinances from being stricter than state law for gun accessories such as high capacity magazines.

The wide-ranging proposal also states that if local governments ban weapons at public buildings, they must also provide screening and armed security.

John Pemble / IPR

Directors of state agencies visit appropriations subcommittees to explain their department goals, budget needs, and to answer legislators questions. The Iowa Department of Revenue director Craig Paulsen and deputy director Mory Mosiman speak about IT upgrades and improvements made in their taxpayer call center. A House subcommittee passes a bill that would fine drivers for using electronic communication devices. In the Senate, a subcommittee advances a bill expanding veterans drug treatment courts.

Katie Peikes / IPR File

The Iowa Senate unanimously approved an additional $20 million for flood relief Thursday. If passed by the House of Representatives and signed into law, it would bring the total direct state money for flood recovery projects stemming from the 2019 floods to $35 million.

kayla lyon
John Pemble / IPR file

The new director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources appears to be on track to be confirmed to the post after a hearing in an Iowa Senate committee Tuesday.

Director Kayla Lyon, appointed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds last summer, described her career background to the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee.

She worked for the dairy industry, and lobbied for farmers and agribusiness, and worked for former Gov. Terry Branstad and Reynolds, and then worked as the lobbyist for Reynolds’ office.

John Pemble / IPR file

The Iowa Statehouse will be empty Monday so lawmakers can caucus tonight in their home districts. But they’ll be back Tuesday to continue debating K-12 public school funding. Iowa Public Radio's Clay Masters talks with IPR state government reporter Katarina Sostaric about the week ahead at the legislature.

Cutting

Jan 31, 2020
John Pemble / IPR

Current law does not allow barbers in Iowa to cut hair in a mobile facility, but a bill is gaining support to change that as a Waterloo barber visits the Capitol to convince lawmakers.

There is a proposal from the governor to cut income taxes and raise the state sales tax. The Legislative Services Agency makes an extensive analysis of this proposal and also a short explainer video

Lawmakers are considering a constitutional amendment that requires a two thirds majority to raise income taxes.


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