DES MOINES — Time is running out again for state lawmakers.
At the end of this week another legislative deadline looms: the second “funnel” deadline for this year’s session. At the end of the week, to remain eligible for consideration, any bill must have passed one chamber — either the Iowa House or the Iowa Senate — and a committee in the opposing chamber.
So lawmakers — especially Republicans in agenda-setting majorities — will prioritize work this week on bills that have not yet reached that threshold. The deadline does not apply to tax policy or spending bills.
“We’ve passed over 150 bills (out of) the House, and it’s clear there are more things we want to keep moving the process forward,” House Speaker Pat Grassley said. , a Republican from New Hartford. “But we’ve taken a lot of action on this side, and we’ll sit down and assess what final bills we want to come out of here.”
While majority Republicans have already crossed big bills off their to-do lists — including a $1.9 billion package of state income tax cuts and a bill banning girls transgender people to participate in girl’s sports – big ticket items remain.
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Among the bills that need at least some movement to survive this week’s deadline are Republicans’ attempts to address what they see as transparency in public school curricula. There are several proposals that go to varying lengths – from one that would require schools to post all books and programs online to another that would jail teachers and educators who distribute material that a parent may deem obscene. None of the proposals has yet reached the benchmark for this week’s deadline.
Another bill facing the funnel is an internal bill that combines several topics. House File 2279 began as a bill dealing with tort reform and unemployment insurance requirements. Some House Republicans have since sought to also attach language that would ban vaccine requirements. A separate bill backed by some House Republicans would ban all businesses, schools and government agencies from requiring a vaccine for employees and ban them from requiring face coverings.
“There’s a lot of subject matter in this bill, obviously,” Grassley said. “So we’re just working on what that would look like. But I am very convinced that this is something that the House must pursue.
Zach Wahls, the Democratic Minority Leader in the Coralville Senate, called the bill “Frankenstein” because of the many elements added to it, which his party opposes.
Proposals to ban automated traffic control cameras, including those in Cedar Rapids, and to ban all handheld use of mobile devices while driving are also facing the deadline.
Similarly, under the gun of the funnel is a recent proposal to remove dozens of state agency and commission positions from requiring Senate confirmation of gubernatorial appointments.
One bill that looks certain to miss that second deadline is an insurance valuation bill that previously passed the House with a unanimous 97-0 vote with no floor debate. But he likely died for the session, according to Sen. Zack Nunn, a Republican from Bondurant who was assigned the bill.
House File 2299 would restrict the appraisal process, saying appraisers should not settle disputes between insurance companies and individuals about how damages occurred. Instead, appraisers could only determine the cash value of a loss and the insurance company would determine the cause. The owner will have to go to court if they dispute this decision.
The March 5 series of tornadoes in Iowa that killed seven people likely changed their minds, Nunn said.
A lobbyist familiar with the bill said some people may have thought the bill only dealt with fire insurance claims because of the “fire and other perils” wording. This wording in the Iowa code, however, is the basis of every homeowner’s comprehensive insurance policy.