Week of Late-night Debates in Effort to Adjourn

May 3, 2018

A timeline of the legislative week so far has included several late evenings. Lots of progress has been made in the second week of legislative overtime. Now that they are in the month of May, the pressure increases to find the way to adjournment. Some legislators have to arrange other housing while still in session, the per diem has ended and the weather is nice for farmers to plant. As of publication of this newsletter, there is indication that the Legislature could adjourn this weekend. Highlights of the week so far are as follows:

  • Monday: An all-nighter on SF 2311--the energy policy bill--concluded legislative action last week. This week started with the Iowa Senate adopting the House version of the energy legislation. However, the debate was not a simple voice vote to concur with the House version, but rather included several amendments filed in the Senate in an attempt to amend the amendment. Ultimately, the amended bill passed the Senate by a vote of 28-22 and has been messaged to the Governor. She has three days to take action on the legislation. The Iowa House passed the Justice and Judicial Appropriations budget.
  • Tuesday: The Iowa House spent most of the day and evening debating the fetal heartbeat legislation. Meanwhile, the Iowa Senate spent the day and night debating several budget bills: Agriculture and Natural Resources, Transportation and Judicial.
  • Wednesday: The House Ways and Means Committee met to take up a few remaining policy bills that haven’t advanced through the legislative process, which is always a concern when the Legislature goes into overtime. Bills once thought “dead” suddenly get revived as end-of-session deals or continual lobbying by those advocating for their issues. The Senate Ways and Means Committee took up the Governor’s version of the tax reform bill and passed it out of committee. The new bill, SF 2417, is expected to be amended on the Senate floor Saturday. The House and Senate worked into the evening and passed the following budget bills: Justice (Senate), Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (House and Senate), Administration and Regulation (House and Senate), Economic Development (Senate) and Education (House and Senate).
  • Thursday: No legislative debate, also called floor work, has been completed as of the publication of the newsletter. The House Appropriations Committee met to debate the Standings Appropriations bill and the Health and Human Services (HHS) Budget, which are the only two appropriations bills not to advance through one chamber yet this week. The Iowa Senate Appropriations Committee is currently meeting to debate Standings and HHS. In addition, an amendment to legislation that would eliminate the property tax backfill was released. The amendment will phase out the backfill over seven years beginning in fiscal year 2020. The Senate is expected to take up the bill (SF 2081) and amend it in committee. 
  • Rest of week: The ABI policy team has been at the Capitol day and night following the progress of the budget bills and waiting for release of the amendment to the tax reform bill. The Iowa House is expected to debate the Education Budget on Thursday afternoon. The Iowa Senate is expected to reconvene for debate on Friday and finalize the remaining budget and policy bills, including water quality. The goal of legislative leaders is to adjourn this weekend. Stay tuned for a session-wrap up newsletter once the Legislature has officially adjourned the 87th General Assembly.