And we’re off! The 2023 Legislative Session has officially gotten underway. With the new session, and some amount of seniority, not only do I represent a new district (House District 45, which now includes most of north Polk County in addition to much of my prior district), I also have moved desks within the House Chamber. I’ve happily been relegated to the back row!
You’d think by now I’d cease to be impressed by the urgency with which my colleagues on both sides of the aisle address the priorities of our respective contingencies out of the gate.
Only two weeks into session, and my fellow Legislators and I have already made significant headway on priorities that have been handed to us from sessions past, along with a few new priorities that have come to light over the 2022 campaign trail. Below, I’ll include updates on the progress we’ve made already, including exciting updates in the fields of mental health. I’ll also dive into some of my own personal legislative priorities for this upcoming session, priorities that I hope will address the adoption process and the labor force.
Progress on Iowa House Republicans’ Priorities
Last week, Iowa House Republicans released the first 13 House File bills of the 2023 Legislative Session, getting straight to work on top priorities identified by leadership. Here is an update on each of the bills that moved forward this week and a quick summary of what the bill does.
House File 6 – Workforce Grant and Incentive Program. A new program that incentivizes students attending the three Regent universities to go into high-demand job fields and to stay in Iowa after they graduate.
House File 10 – BOEE Reforms. Makes all school employees over 18 mandatory reporters and it requires schools and the BOEE to keep a record of all complaints made against employees so they can identify trends. It also prohibits school districts and teachers from entering into an agreement that prohibits them from discussing an incident or waives liability.
House File 11 – Student Right to Know. Requires the Board of Regents publicly publish an online database to provide students with information about post-graduation median salary, loan debt, debt-to-income ratio, and more for the degrees they offer.
House File 13 – Rural Hospitals. Establishes licensure in Iowa for Rural Emergency Hospitals – a health care facility that maintains a 24-hour emergency room, but does not include acute inpatient care – allowing them to receive reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid at a higher rate.
Prohibiting Non-Competes for Mental Health Providers
This week, the House Human Resources Committee unanimously passed House Study Bill 8, a bill to prohibit non-compete agreements for mental health care providers. This bill effectively codifies a recent court decision and will allow mental health providers to continue to see their patients after the practitioner changes employers.
House Judiciary Committee Prepares for a Busy Year
The House Judiciary Committee has held their first two meetings of the session and representatives are ready to work on complex legislation. Rep. Steve Holt is returning as the Chairman of the committee. Of the 21 members, nine members have served on the committee before, and five are brand new to the legislature. The Judiciary Committee typically has a high volume of bills focused on criminal, civil, and family law.
As of today, 16 bills have been assigned to subcommittees. A subcommittee is comprised of three members (two Republicans and one Democrat). The subcommittee holds a hearing where members of the public and lobby provide their input. If at least two members support the bill it advances to committee for consideration. In order for a bill to pass out of committee it must have the support of at least 11 members. When a bill passes committee, it is then eligible for floor debate at the discretion of the majority leader.
Anyone wishing to watch a subcommittee or committee meeting can attend in person or watch online. The link for all meetings can be found on the legislative website https://www.legis.iowa.gov/. If you have input you would like to share regarding a bill, you are always welcome to speak to your representative, but you may also come share your thoughts at the subcommittee meeting.
My 2023 Priorities
In 2021, I, along with several colleagues, filed several bills related to adoption. Unfortunately, in two years, only one of those bills made it to the Governor. All of those bills that have not become law have now again been filed. These relate to making adoptions cheaper (doubling the state adoption tax credit), easier (waiving home studies in certain circumstances) and more available (allowing a termination of parental rights to be vacated in certain situations). We also will take up again parental leave for adoptive parents on par with biological parents.
In 2020, I filed a bill that I believe will create a real, significant incentive for college students in Iowa to stay here with they graduate and for out of state residents to move here to take jobs. This year, this bill has been refiled and will receive a subcommittee hearing. The bill, if enacted as is, would create a one time 4 year tax credit for the entirety of the resident’s state income tax obligation. Put another way, its a 4 year state income tax holiday. We give massive tax credits and incentives to companies to stay in Iowa or to locate here. Its time to give those same incentives to employees. Because we need them desperately.
The Governor’s Students First Act
I cannot end without mentioning the Governor’s ESA proposal. I have been vocal in my opposition to it and the reasons why, including the fiscal impact that we know of, but no one in the Capitol seems to want to talk about, which is $918 million in the first four years alone. And when I say that is what we know of, I mean, we still have not received a Fiscal Note from the state’s Legislative Services Agency, and there is no guarantee that we will have one before we vote on this presumably on Monday.
I could relate the basis for my opposition, but its summed up perfectly in this weeks newsletter penned by my friend and colleague, Chad Ingels. You can read his comments following this link. All I can say is, Ditto