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Week 5 of the 89th General Assembly included advancing legislation to make childcare more affordable and accessible, and passage of Supplemental State Aid for schools. In my duties as Judiciary Chair, I can report that numerous bills are on the move.

Child Care
These six legislative initiatives address Iowa’s childcare shortage from multiple angles:

* HF 230 – Increases the income threshold for the Child Care Tax Credit from $45,000 to $90,000. This will allow more families the opportunity to take advantage of this tax credit program to help with the cost of childcare.
* HF 370– Creates an incentive for employers to provide child care for their employees by providing a tax credit of up to $150,000.
* HF 260 – Allows individuals providing childcare in their homes to take care of up to 6 children, an increase from 5. This will help with the shortage of childcare providers.
* HF 292 – Raises Iowa’s child care rates to the 50th percentile according to the Market Rate Survey. This will provide more money for daycare providers.
* HF 302 – Creates an “off-ramp” from the Child Care Assistance program so that parents can continue to grow in their careers without losing their child care assistance entirely. This incentivizes hard work and advancement.
* HF 301 – Creates a fund to provide child care workforce grants on a dollar-for-dollar matching basis from communities. These programs will help move childcare providers up the pay scale and education pathway.

School Funding                                                                                 
The House reached agreement with the Senate for a 2.4% ($36.5 million) increase in Supplemental State Aid (SSA) for K-12 schools.

* A $10 State Cost Per Pupil increase to shrink the District Cost Per Pupil (DCPP) disparity that exists between districts is also included.
* $800,000 is also provided to help those rural districts that have high transportation costs compared to other districts.
* The House is also working on a $30 million supplemental package to help schools that had increased costs due to in-person learning COVID expenses. For the Districts that worked so hard to get their students back in the classroom, and incurred additional costs in the process, we want to make sure the state helps with those added expenses. It is early in the process and we have not yet reached agreement with the Senate on this supplemental package.

Multiple Judiciary Bills Moving Forward 
The first funnel deadline is still several weeks away, but the Judiciary Committee has already advanced many bills to the Senate for their consideration.

* House Joint Resolution 5- Life Amendment
This constitutional amendment is a direct response to a state Supreme Court ruling that created a non-existent constitutional right to abortion. This amendment makes Iowa’s Constitution neutral on the issue of abortion.
* House File 199-Visitation and Parenting Time
Probably one of our simplest bills but one with a big impact. Current law uses the phrase “visitation” when discussing the time a child spends with their parent that does not have primary custody. This bill changes the phrase to “parenting time,” to better identify the importance of the parent child relationship.
* House File 201-Sexually Motivated Extortion
HF 201 requires a person who is convicted of extortion to register as a sex offender if it is determined that the crime was sexually motivated.  Additionally, the bill requires a sex offender who is required to register in another jurisdiction, but who lives in Iowa, to serve their time on their registry either under the convicting state or Iowa’s laws, whichever is longer. This prevents a sex offender from coming to Iowa for a shorter sentence on the registry.
* House File 232-Disorderly Conduct
HF 232 amends the definition of disorderly conduct. The Supreme Court previously struck down the disorderly conduct code and this amendment puts the code in compliance with the ruling.
* House File 233-Disclosure of Private Sexual Images
A person whose private intimate images are disclosed by another, without permission, may bring a civil lawsuit against the person who disclosed the image.

Author: Steven Holt