The Legislature adjourned Sunday June 14 after it suspended operations in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Legislature reconvened on June 3 to complete its work, which included addressing a handful of remaining policy issues and passing a state budget.
Some of the highlights passed by the Legislature this session include:
Budget: The Legislature passed a mostly status quo budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year that spends less than projected revenue, doesn’t rely on rainy day or reserve funds, and leaves a healthy surplus. (HF 2642, HF 2643, HF 2644)
Education: Earlier in the session, the House and Senate passed a K-12 education funding plan that provides schools with an additional $100 million next school year. This package includes an increase in general aid while also targeting resources to reduce high transportation costs in rural districts and reduce a long-standing inequity in the school funding formula by an additional $10/student. Under House Republican leadership, total state investment in K-12 is at an all-time high of nearly $3.4 billion, an increase of almost $1 billion over the last decade. (SF 2142, SF 2164)
Telehealth: During the COVID pandemic, the issue of telehealth and its importance has been pushed to the forefront. Legislation passed this session ensures that Iowa kids can access mental health treatment (with parental involvement) while at school via telehealth. Additional legislation passed by the House this session requires telehealth services to be reimbursed at the same rate as in-person visits to the doctor. (HF 2192, SF 2261)
Broadband: Reliable and high-speed internet has become a necessity in today’s economy and several Bills were passed to make Broadband more accessible throughout the State. (HF 2442, HF 2520, HF 2575, HF 2641, HF 2643, SF 2196, SF 2349, SF 2400)
Unfortunately, there were some priorities that the House had worked on that didn’t make it to the Governor’s desk which include:
Child care: One of the issues that negatively impacts our workforce is a lack of access to affordable child care across the state. There were several bills introduced that did not get passed out of the Legislature. (HF 2270, HF 2271, HF 2424, HF 2485, HF 2593, HF 2594, HF 2595, HF 2600, HF 2629)
Emergency medical services (EMS): SF2283 designated emergency medical services (EMS) as essential service so that local governments would have the resources and certainty to make long-term investments in EMS infrastructure.
I am disappointed that these and other priorities did not make it to Governor Reynolds but I anticipate they will be addressed in 2021.