We were called back into session last Monday to finish our legislative work for the year. It had been almost a full four weeks without any legislative action as the Governor lobbied for her K-12 education voucher bill. With almost half of the House Republican caucus having serious concerns about the bill, it was finally decided that there was no future for the bill this legislative session. I have received more emails from the District about school vouchers than all the other bills considered this year combined. With my emails running 2 to 1 against vouchers, I was among the House members who could not support the bill. I have voted for every other one of the Governor’s priorities since being elected two years ago based on the feedback I received from the voters in this District, but this bill did not have the popular support.
In the end, none of the House bills we sent to the Senate addressing the problems in some of our public schools made it to the Governor’s desk. The House passed a curriculum transparency bill that would have made it easier for parents to know what their children are being taught in the classroom. The House also passed a bill which would help prevent teachers who have a inappropriate romantic relationship with their students from quietly seeking employment in other school systems. I co-sponsored a bill that would have made it a criminal offense for school employees to knowingly make obscene materials available to K-12 students. None of these ideas were incorporated into final legislation sent to the Governor. We did send the Governor a bill that would allow parents to transfer their students to another public school system at any time for any reason with the funding to follow the student on a pro-rated basis. The transferring student must attend at the receiving district for no less than one year, but can transfer back to their school district of residence at any time. The receiving school district can deny the transfer request if there is insufficient classroom capacity or if the request affects a court-ordered desegregation plan. There were some clarifying changes to restrictions on transferring students being able to immediately participate in sports, but those basically remain the same as they have been for open enrollment.
One of the legislature’s major duties is to set the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The House had sent the Senate our budget proposals by mid-April, but the Senate took no floor action on any of them until Monday. The Senate’s proposals for General Fund expenditures were approximately $70M less than the House’s proposals. When we reached final agreement, $4M of the $70M difference was approved. There were no major cuts in any of the House’s proposals. The funding just came from sources other than the General Fund, mostly from unused Federal Covid relief money.
Other bills of note that were sent to the Governor after being amended:
HF 2130 ATV/UTV Bill would allow an atv/utv to operate on all secondary roads and city streets in Iowa. Operators can only use undivided, two lane primary roads as a direct route between roads or trails on which such vehicles are authorized. Cities and counties can restrict the operation of an atv/utv in very limited circumstances. Operators must be at least 18 years of age, have a valid driver’s license, and carry proof of liability insurance. The vehicle must be equipped with headlights, tail lights, and brake lights, and cannot be operated at speeds in excess of 35 mph.
SF 581 Deer Depredation Bill allows landowners to purchase additional antlerless deer licenses for a $5 fee to be used during the months of September, October, November, and December. The bill reduces the fine for illegally taking an antlerless deer and increases the number of deer licenses available to non-residents. It also allows persons who qualify for the disabled veteran homestead tax credit to get a lifetime trout fishing license.
SF 2367 Exempts diapers and feminine hygiene products from Iowa sales tax.
HF 2589 amends the definition of delinquent act to include the illegal possession of a firearm by a person under the age of 18. It also makes pointing a laser light at a member of the national guard who is on active duty, with the intention of causing pain or suffering, guilty of assault. Penalties vary depending on the injury inflicted.