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April 28, 2019
This is the last week for the 2019 Iowa Legislative Session. It was scheduled for 110 days,but ended a bit early on day 104. This is also the last episode for this year’s podcast. On this final episode, we cover the passage of the sports betting bill. It legalizes both sports wagering and fantasy sports. In May 2018, the United States Supreme Court made a ruling allowing state to add sports wagering. So far eight states have done so.
April 19, 2019
Gov. Kim Reynolds invited Republicans to a press conference to announce the creation of a Flood Recovery Advisory Board. She says it will help decide what to do and how to use funds from the federal and state level. The governor is asking legislators to make $15 million available from fiscal year 2019’s ending balance go to the flood mitigation fund. She’s also asking for $10 million in the next fiscal year for the Workforce Housing Tax Credits to accelerate housing improvements in flooded areas
April 12, 2019
In the first month of the legislative session it’s common to see heads of large departments visit a committee to explain their budget requests. In January, the Department of Transportation asked for $259 million dollars for its highway division. The DOT set aside $13 million a year to buy 225,000 tons of salt. Normally they use 156,000 tons in a season. In February, Iowa received record or near record amounts of snowfall and the DOT used a lot of salt on the roads. They’ve already used around
April 5, 2019
Some bills move through a chamber quickly. A bill changing the testing to obtain a teaching license passes in the Senate after three and half minutes of discussion. In the House, the discussion is quite different. Democrats present amendments that would terminate the state’s Medicaid managed care contracts in favor of a state-run system. It’s in response to UnitedHealthcare announcing it will leave Iowa sometime this year. In 2016, Iowa’s Medicaid system went from a state-run program to being
March 29, 2019
Every year, the Herbert Hoover Foundation awards two members of the Iowa legislature the Uncommon Public Service Award. Only a few people in the House and Senate chambers know who the recipient of the award will be until it is announced. Like previous winners, legislators Sen. Ken Rozenboom, R-Oskaloosa, and Rep. John Forbes, D-Urbandale, had no idea they were being honored until it was announced on the chamber floor. In February Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Cedar Falls, resigned. Now the Senate has
March 22, 2019
There are around 650,000 people enrolled for Medicaid in Iowa. Around 170,000 are through the Iowa Health and Wellness plan. Under a bill in the Senate, 40 percent of those on the Iowa Health and Wellness plan will need have part time work or volunteer to say on the program. The work requirement has 11 exemptions. They include those who are pregnant, disabled, in rehab or enrolled in the Future Ready Iowa program. It’s estimated the implimenting the reporting requirement will cost $5 million in
March 15, 2019
The governor appoints hundreds of people to serve in state departments. The roles range from board member, director, or member of a judicial nominating commission. All of these individuals require confirmation by the Senate by a two thirds majority for them to continue in their appointed role. Some of these appointees visit a Senate committee. Former Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen, did that this week with the Ways and Means Committee. Two weeks ago he was appointed as the director of the
March 8, 2019
March 8 was the deadline for most bills and resolutions to pass a House or a Senate committee. Most of those that haven’t are no longer eligible for a subcommittee. Exceptions include appropriations, ways and means and government oversite. There are others ways a bill subject to the deadline could emerge later, but most won’t. This is also called the "funnel deadline." The 2019 Iowa Legislative Session is scheduled for 110 days. That's 16 weeks, so it’s likely we are in the middle of this
March 1, 2019
Part of a 2017 law that banned abortions after 20 weeks included a provision that a woman must wait 72 hours after the initial doctor consultation to have the procedure. In June, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the 72 hour waiting period was unconstitutional. A law banning on abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected was struck down by a district court in January, because it was also declared unconstitutional. Gov. Kim Reynolds decided not to challenge the heartbeat law decision. She says
February 22, 2019
A House subcommittee bill is discussed that would prohibit a person from running as a non-party political organization candidate if they lose a Democratic or Republican primary. Another bill with a similar goal would require candidates from any party to file their nominating papers with the secretary of state on the same date. Right now Democrats and Republicans file their nominating papers in March, non-party candidates do so in August. Both bills are eligible to move to a full committee. All
February 15, 2019
To amend the state constitution, two consecutive Iowa General Assemblies must approve a resolution. Then it must be approved by Iowa voters. But first, the Secretary of State must publish the amendment in newspapers. Secretary of State Paul Pate failed to do that for two amendments approved during the last General Assembly. P ate says it was a mistake and he apologized, but because of this error, supporters of the resolutions must start the process over. On e would enshrine gun rights in the
February 8, 2019
Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, wants to expand marijuana access in Iowa. Bolkcom says marijuana should be regulated and taxed like alcohol. Other states have legalized marijuana use in some form but it is still illegal under federal law, and it is unlikely Iowa legislators will take action. But legislators are considering bills that would legalize sports betting. In May 2018 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that allows states to have this form of gambling. Eight states have legalized
February 1, 2019
This week, the Iowa House voted for the first time in this General Assembly, but there wasn’t anything ordinary about this one. During the election for House District 55, the incumbent Rep. Michael Bergan, R-Dorchester, won by nine votes. Ballots arrived in Winneshiek County without postmarks and the county auditor tossed them. The Democratic challenger Kay Koether sued to have the ballots counted. A judge ordered the barcodes on the envelopes be scanned to determine if they were sent before
January 25, 2019
IPERS is the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System, and has 360,000 members. In 2017, a bill in the Senate proposed creating an alternative defined contribution plan for new state employees, but it didn’t go anywhere. Democrats have expressed concerns about any change to IPERS and it was often a talking point during last year’s election. During a House State Government Committee meeting the chair Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, took the opportunity to make a statement. "There is not going to be
January 18, 2019
Like with the last Iowa General Assembly, Republicans control the House, Senate, and the governor’s office. But this session begins without a revenue shortfall. It also begins in the first few weeks of a new Iowa tax code passed by the legislature last year.
May 9, 2018
The legislature went 18 days past the planned 100 when it finally adjourned on May 5th. The biggest reason for the delay is because House and Senate Republicans took a long time to find agreement on a new tax plan. It will gradually phase in tax reductions over a six year period. The final reductions in taxes will happen in 2023 and 2024 if economic triggers are met. In 2019, tax collections will be reduced by $100 million, while it is estimated $66 million will come in from new taxes on digital
April 20, 2018
Every seat in the House and half in the Senate are up for reelection later this year. Twenty-two legislators are choosing not to come back. In the final days of a general assembly, many give "retirement" speeches on the floor. This week Wally Horn, Bob Dvorsky, Mark Chelgren, and Rick Bertrand are honored with Senate resolutions. In the House, those leaving aren't presented with resolutions, but they are given the floor to address their colleagues. Clel Baudler is the only representative to do
April 13, 2018
There are only a few days before per diems stop for legislators. It's the goal for the session to end by the 100th day -- April 17th -- but with two different tax codes in the works and no fiscal year 2019 budget, it's likely the session will continue longer. This week a public hearing on a House tax code received praise and pushback from around three dozen Iowans. Support ranges from it stimulates the economy to it adds "gravy on our taters." This is a reference to the federal tax breaks that
April 6, 2018
At this point, it's common to hear bills being enrolled. This means both chambers have approved a bill and it awaits the governor to sign it in to law or veto. Because the chambers are controlled by the same party as the governor, vetos are highly unlikely. One of the bills awaiting the governor deals with electronic eavesdropping. It passed the House then the Senate where it was amended. As it returns to the House, suddenly Democrats have privacy concerns. Surveillance devices recording video
March 30, 2018
On Monday, Gov. Kim Reynolds talks about firing the Director of Iowa Finance Authority, Dave Jamison. She says he was terminated for credible allegations of sexual harassment. She reiterates her zero tolerance policy, but reveals very little about the allegations due to privacy concerns for the victims. In November, Reynolds said a Senate Republican report about past sexual harassment should reveal additional information about past claims while protecting personal information. Reporters ask the
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