Collins Capitol Connection Weekly Update

To the People of House District 95

The second funnel deadline has come and passed which means the scope of many bills the legislature can consider is only a fraction of what has been introduced by either chamber. As we approach the last month of session, the General Assembly will now begin working on the state budget and any tax bills.
Revenue Estimating Conference to Meet this Afternoon

The spring meeting of the three-member Revenue Estimating Conference will take place on at 12:30PM today. The meeting will be in the Supreme Court Chamber and open to the public. The meeting will also be livestreamed on the Legislative Services Agency’s YouTube channel.

Here is the link:

The REC meeting will update the panel’s projections for state revenue in the current fiscal year (FY 2024) and the next fiscal year (FY 2025). The group will also make a preliminary forecast for revenue in Fiscal Year 2026. The FY 2024 & FY 2025 projections for revenue to the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund will also be reviewed during the meeting.

An in-depth analysis of the panel’s discussions will be provided in next week’s newsletter.

Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Remains at 3% in January

Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.0% in January, down from the 3.2% announced in December but unchanged from a revised December rate. The state’s jobless rate was 2.9% one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 3.7% in January.

The total number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 50,900 in January, down 1,100 from revised December data. The total number of working Iowans decreased by 1,200 to 1,653,800. The labor force participation rate decreased to 67.3% from a revised December rate of 67.5%.

The last five years of monthly labor force data (2019-2023) recently were revised as required by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. This “benchmarking” is the periodic process of re-estimating statistics as more complete data becomes available, such as updated data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Prior-year estimates for the Current Employment Statistics (CES) and Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) programs – key statistical measures of employment – are benchmarked annually. Revised data are incorporated in January employment statistics when they are released each March.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment

Iowa’s establishments shed 2,000 jobs to begin 2024, lowering total nonfarm employment to 1,596,800 jobs. This monthly decline was due to private service industries removing jobs in wholesale and retail trade along with professional and business services. These losses overshadowed small gains in goods production. Whereas private industries lost positions in January, government (as sector that includes workers at hospitals and schools as well as federal, state, and local government agencies) increased adding 300 jobs, mostly at state universities.

Construction added 600 jobs in January and has now reached an all-time high despite unusually snowy weather to start the new year. A combined 3,200 jobs have been gained in this industry since October. Leisure and hospitality advanced slightly (+500) and was partially lifted by small gains in both accommodations and food services. Other gains in January were light and included health care and social assistance (+800) and information (+300). Alternatively, trade and transportation shed a combined 3,200 jobs to lead all other sectors. Retail trade was responsible for most of the layoffs in January (-2,000) although both wholesale trade and transportation and warehousing also trended down. The only other major losses occurred in other services (-600) and professional, scientific, and technical services (-600).

Over the past twelve months, the state has gained 12,700 jobs. Among private services, education and health care has added the most jobs (+6,400). Over half of the hires were related to health care and social assistance. Construction is now up 2,700 jobs annually, while manufacturing continues to trend up and has gained 2,100 jobs since last January. On the other hand, trade, transportation, and utilities shed the most jobs annually (-5,400) as transportation and warehousing fueled most of the decline (-3,600).

House Republicans Pass Second School Security Bill

In the wake of the tragic shooting in Perry, Iowans have demanded workable and effective school security measures. A recent poll in the Des Moines Register indicated 60% of Iowans supported the House Republican plan to thoroughly train and arm school personnel who volunteer to serve in such a capacity inside school buildings. All Democrats present for the bill voted against it. Regardless, House Republicans have methodically moved forwarded with additional school security plans during the 2024 legislature session.

On Wednesday, the House passed a bill that looks at school safety from the side of infrastructure.

This bill creates a task force to develop school safety building codes to determine what makes school buildings safer – currently none exist. With new standards, school officials will be able to make sure they are doing what they can from an infrastructure standpoint to make buildings safe for students and teachers. Along that same line, the bill prevents districts from bonding to build athletic stadiums or facilities unless and until their facilities are up to date with the school safety building standards from the task force. Safety and security should be the priority.

This bill also deals with how schools can get help or send for help if an emergency arises. Schools are allowed to have a mobile panic alert system if it can connect to emergency services and integrates with local public safety answering points. This is a mobile phone application districts can utilize. The Governor’s office previously developed a grant program for emergency radios. Many schools took advantage of that grant, but some did not.  The Governor’s office has said that they plan to re-open that grant program to make sure all schools can have access to funding for the radios. If schools do not take advantage, they will be required to use their own funds.

The bill establishes two grant programs. The first is a three-million-dollar Firearm Detection Software grant program run by the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The grant program provides funds to school districts of varying sizes to help offset the cost associated with purchasing, installing, operating software that meets these requirements:

  • Designed to alert and detect district employees and first responders if there is a visible, unholstered firearm on a property owned by the school district.
  • Designed to integrate with a district’s existing security camera infrastructure.
  • Was developed in the U.S. without any of third-party data or open-source data.

The second grant program is the School Security Personnel Grants for Infrastructure, Equipment, and Training. This grant program states that if HF 2586 or successor legislation is passed, which is the other House GOP school safety bill that creates a professional permit for school staff and mandates training requirements, it will provide school districts grants to purchase infrastructure and equipment related to employee permits to carry weapons, facilitate the training associated with employee permits to carry weapons, and to provide stipends to employees who participate in the training associated with employee permits to carry weapons. Districts who choose to enhance school security this way will have additional expenses and House Republicans want to help cover those costs to truly make schools a safer place for students and staff.

House Ag Panel Approves Meat Integrity Act 

On Tuesday, the House Agriculture Committee passed Senate File 2391 by a vote of 18-5. SF 2391 previously passed the Senate by a 49-0 vote last month. The measure provides accurate protein labeling definitions to enable Iowa consumers to know what they are putting on their plates and into their bodies when they purchase an ever-proliferating array of protein food sources. With many of the new products now being designed and produced through laboratory activities, the bill aims to provide Iowans with some clarity.

The goals of the bill are to:

  • Define meat products, cultivated-protein, insect-protein, and plant-protein products,
  • Create fair labeling standards, and
  • Ensure transparency in the marketplace for consumers.

The bill additionally seeks to:

  • Proscribe lab-grown proteins from being purchased through federal SNAP and WIC programs used by low-income Iowans,
  • Curtail schools (K-12) from purchasing lab-grown protein for school breakfast/lunches, and
  • Restricts Regent Institutions and community colleges from purchasing lab-grown protein.

The bill is administered under the purview of the state Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licensing (DIAL). The measure provides explicit, limited regulatory definitions for:

  • Identifying meat term
  • Reflecting which animal species it comes from and what portion of an animal
  • Insect-protein food protein’
  • Label
  • Manufactured-protein food product
  • Meat processing
  • Meat product
  • Plant protein food product
  • Qualifying -term

SF 2391 specifies that inspection of a food processor for misbranded protein food products will not be a part of routine inspection but as a result of a credible claim. The measure further specifies that a food product is misbranded as ‘meat’ if it is labeled as such and offered for sale and it contains manufactured protein food products unless the label contains a conspicuous and prominent qualifying term in close proximity to identifying meat term and provides that the sale of misbranded meat is prohibited in Iowa. The legislation gives DIAL enforcement authority to issue stop orders preventing sale of misbranded meat products and can assess civil penalties for misbranding meat products of not more than $500 for a violation or a cumulative less than $10,000 for an ongoing violation. An entity charged with a violation may contest it under Chapter 17 provisions and the moneys collected are deposited into the state general fund.

Democrats Oppose Bill to Curb Illegal Immigration, Punish Human Traffickers

The negative impacts of the Biden’s Administrations failure to enforce current laws and protect the southern border are being felt more than a thousand miles away right here in Iowa. House File 2608 removes some perceived incentives for these individuals from coming to Iowa while also targeting those who illegally smuggle people into our state.

Most Iowans support legal immigration and recognize that their own ancestors once left their homelands to become Americans. These individuals helped build our country while maintaining their own customs but also adapting to American culture. Democrats talk about immigration as if there is no distinction between legal and illegal. They also like to talk as if there is no downside to Iowans with unrestricted flows of unidentified foreign nationals.

HF 2608 is focused only on illegal immigration. Division one of the bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services to determine if a noncitizen is eligible for state assistance by verifying their immigration status. Under federal law this is already required, but since President Biden and Democrats have refused to enforce this federal law on the border, the House Judiciary Committee was rightly concerned that this and other federal laws could change or be ignored. Codifying it into state law ensures that those who are here legally get the state assistance they need and those who are here illegally do not have access to state tax dollars. Iowa taxpayers are not obligated to provide financial incentives to illegal border crossers regardless of the actions of the Biden Administration.

Division two of the bill targets human traffickers. It is designed to protect those who have come across the border illegally but are at the mercy of these often-violent smugglers. The language in the bill makes it a crime to take payment or another benefit while smuggling an illegal immigrant through Iowa. Contrary to absurd claims by Democrats, this does not penalize a church or school who might be driving a person somewhere. It goes after human traffickers, and those who use another’s immigration status to their benefit. Penalties range from a class “C” felony, up to a class “A” felony if sexual assault or death of the smuggled person occur.

Predictably, all Democrats voting on HF 2605 opposed it. Many argued that illegal immigration is not actually a problem despite a record high number of illegal immigrants encountered at the border with over 250,000 alone in December of 2023. To put that number in perspective, NO city in Iowa has 250,000 people and only Des Moines has more than 200,000.

 Commerce Committee Advances PBM Legislation

This week, the Iowa House and Senate Commerce Committees passed House File 2401 related to Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). PBMs are the entity between health insurers and drug manufacturers who process prescription medication claims on behalf of the insurer or employer.

This bill ensures pharmacies are reimbursed for their services within their scope of practice, requires profits from spread-pricing to go back to the employer/insurer, and requires an appeals process for pharmacies that are unable to acquire drugs at the reimbursement rate from the PBM.

In 2022, the legislature brought PBM oversight under the Department of Insurance, and this session, the department also proposed a bill based on a year and a half of regulating the industry. House File 2099 passed the Iowa House unanimously. This bill expands PBM’s duty of good faith and fair dealing to pharmacies and prohibits retaliation against pharmacies that file complaints against PBMs.

These bills support Iowa’s pharmacies. Since 2008, there has been a 13.77% decrease in Iowa pharmacies of all types. 75% of those closures were rural pharmacies. According to the Iowa Pharmacy Association survey of community pharmacies in October 2023, 40.8% of responding pharmacies indicated they expect to close or sell in 2024.

House Committee Passes Two Constitutional Amendments 

This week the House Ways and Means Committee passed two constitutional amendments. One requires a 2/3 majority to increase any tax based on income or to create a new tax. The second requires any tax based on income be imposed at a single rate. If adopted, the proposed constitutional amendments would be published, and then referred to the next general assembly (the 91st General Assembly beginning in January of 2025) for adoption, before being submitted to the electorate for ratification.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment #1:
Under this amendment, passage of a bill that increases the individual income tax rate or the corporate income tax rate, or the rate of any other type of tax based upon income or legal and special reserves, shall require the affirmative votes of at least two-thirds of the members elected to each house of the general assembly. This requirement does not apply to taxes imposed at the option of a local government.

Additionally, under this amendment, passage of a bill that establishes a new tax on any type of income or legal and special reserves imposed by the state shall require the affirmative votes of at least two-thirds of the members elected to each house of the general assembly. This would not include sales tax.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment #2:
Under this amendment, a tax on income or based upon income for individuals shall be imposed at a single rate. A graduated rate of taxation on such income is prohibited. The amendment prohibits more than one income tax rate above zero imposed by the state on an individual at any one time.

Legislature Advances Child Care Bills

This week, the Appropriations Committee passed House Study Bill 729. This bill increases childcare rates for the Child Care Assistance Program by $14.1 million. Last year, the legislature increased these rates by $10.8 million, and this bill continues the work of providing significant resources to Iowa’s childcare centers and homes.

This bill also extends the childcare workforce pilot program for an additional year to collect data on recruiting and retaining child care employees. This pilot program provides the children of childcare workers with Child Care Assistance.

The House Ways and Means Committee also recently passed House File 2655. This bill provides childcare center a residential rollback (instead of commercial) for property tax purposes, which is estimated to provide $8.8 million in reduced property taxes for child care facilities statewide.

The legislature and governor have prioritized access to childcare since COVID, and all of these policy changes signed into law have contributed to the expansion of over 25,000 child care slots in the state since September 2021.

One such program, Cliff Effect CCA Exit Program, the state has created helps working parents raise their income and work towards financial independence. This program increases the cost families pay towards child care, but maintain subsidies to lessen the cost as their income rises, with the average family paying for 43% of the cost of child care.

The legislature also enabled child care providers to increase with one child in the 2 year old classroom and two children in the 3 year old classroom. 42% of child care providers surveyed indicated that they increased their ratios, being able to serve more children and increase staff pay.

How Have House Republicans Addressed Mental Health?

Efforts have encompassed expanding access to mental health services for all ages, creating a sustainable, long-term funding system, providing training to help schools address student mental health needs, and increasing the mental health workforce throughout the state.

The chart at the bottom of my newsletter shows the total amount spent in taxpayer dollars towards mental health services in Iowa in fiscal year 2022 (July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022).

Over one billion dollars. The failure to spend enough taxpayer money on mental health services is CLEARLY is not the issue.

Beyond the $1,087,104,823 spent in Fiscal Year 2022, the legislature also invested the following which amounts to an additional $41 million annually.

  • The FY2024 HHS budget (SF561) provides $13 million in increased state funding towards mental health, PMICs and substance abuse Medicaid rates. In total with federal funding, this is over $35 million increase to ensure that the state can recruit and retain mental health providers to care for Iowans in need. These increases came based on a Medicaid rate review that compared Iowa’s mental health rates to surrounding states and to Medicare.
  • Provided $500,000 of funding and employees to specialize the Independence Mental Health Institute to behaviorally complex youth and the Cherokee MHI to acute and forensic adults.
  • $4.8 million to establish 12 psychiatry residencies through the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, with a focus on training at state facilities, including the mental health institutes, Eldora State Training School, and Woodward Resource Center.
  • $800,000 towards a rural psychiatry residency program through UIHC.
  • $520,000 per year towards a mental health professional loan repayment program for mental health professionals that agree to practice in a mental health shortage area in Iowa for at least 5 years.
  • $3.4 million towards Behavioral Health Intervention Services.
  • Autism providers (HF2578) – provided a 7.5% increase to autism providers.

What have House Republicans done recently?

Last session, the legislature approved the following:

  • Mental Health Rate Increase – The HHS budget (SF561) provides $13 million in increased state funding towards mental health and substance abuse Medicaid rates. In total with federal funding, this is over $35 million increase to ensure that the state can recruit and retain mental health providers to care for Iowans in need. These increases came based on a Medicaid rate review that compared Iowa’s mental health rates to surrounding states and to Medicare.
  • Medical Malpractice – House File 161 limits the total amount of noneconomic damages for a medical malpractice claim at $2 million for causes of action involving a hospital, and at $1 million for all other causes of action.
  • Rural Emergency Hospitals – Senate File 75 establishes licensure in Iowa for Rural Emergency Hospitals. Federal law created this designation in 2020, and has allowed this new hospital designation to begin January 1, 2023. This bill also requires ambulatory surgical centers to be licensed in Iowa.
  • Mental Health Non-Competes – House File 93 prohibits noncompete agreements with mental health providers, allowing the provider to stay with their patient.
  • Psychologist Prescribing – House File 183 removes the requirement that a psychologist complete certain requirements within 5 years of being issued a conditional prescription certificate. This bill also changes that the physician supervising does not need to be board-certified in specific specialties.
  • Psychiatrist Public Fellowship – House File 274 revises the state-funded psychiatry residency program that was established last session, to include two fellowship positions. The program will annually graduate 9 psychiatry residents and 2 psychiatry fellows.
  • Physician Assistants – House File 424 repeals requirements that physician assistants practice under the supervision of a physician, and instead requires collaboration, including psychiatric PAs.
  • Commitment Hearings – House File 466 allows health care providers who have examined a patient involved in a substance abuse or mental health commitment to testify by video. Current law only allows for telephone testimony.
  • Mental Health and Disability Services – House File 471 comes from the Department of Health and Human Services to specialize the Independence Mental Health Institute to behaviorally complex youth and the Cherokee MHI to acute and forensic adults, makes changes to the Regional MHDS Governing Board makeup, and adds competency-based restoration to the core service domains of the MHDS Regions.

This session House Republicans have advanced the following:

This session, the legislature has advanced 9 bills to address mental health in Iowa. These bills build on the work the legislature has done over the last 6 years to expand access to mental health care, increase workforce, increase Medicaid rates, create sustainable long-term funding of the mental health regions, and provide an emphasis on children’s mental health care.

The below list includes the status of each bill as of March 6th.

  • Children’s Mental Health – House File 2402 provides for an enhanced rate for psychiatric medical institutions for children that care for children with specialized needs and makes regulatory changes to PMICs based on feedback from providers. This bill passed the House and has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
  • Access Center Transportation – House File 2397 requires DHHS to authorize payments to ambulances transporting mental health patients in crisis to an access center at a similar amount to when transporting to an ER. This bill passed the House and has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
  • Social Work Compact – House File 2512 establishes an interstate license for social workers after 7 states have joined the compact. Two states currently have enacted this compact (Missouri and South Dakota), and 26 states have pending legislation. The compact is effective upon 7 states joining. This bill passed the House and has been assigned to the Senate State Government Committee.
  • Direct Supervision and Licensure by Endorsement – House File 2515 creates licensure by endorsement for licensed marital and family therapists and licensed mental health counselors. This bill also prohibits live and recorded direct observation of client interaction for LMFTs, LMHCs, and Social Workers. This bill passed the House and has been assigned to the Senate State Government Committee.
  • Behavioral Health System – House File 2509 comes from the Governor to transition the current county run mental health and disability services regional system to a state behavioral health service system with state contracted administrative service organizations governed by the Department of Health and Human Services. This bill is in the Appropriations Committee.
    • The behavioral health service system has the purpose of prevention, education, early intervention, treatment, recovery support, and crisis services for mental health, substance use, tobacco use, and problem gambling.
    • DHHS will divide the state into behavioral health districts with ASOs to oversee each district and its behavioral health services. ASOs will be selected through RFP. Each district will have a district behavioral health advisory council.
    • The bill directs the funds from the federal community health mental health services block grant and the federal substance abuse prevention and treatment block grant to DHHS.
    • Creates a central data repository for behavioral health data with demographic information, expenditure data, and services and supports provided to individuals.
    • Establishes a behavioral health fund, with similar funding to the existing annual increases based on a state growth factor. The bill prohibits an ASO from spending more than 7% on administrative costs.
    • This bill requires DHHS to designate aging and disability resource centers to establish a coordinated system of providing assistance to persons with disabilities and the elderly.
    • Timeline:
      • September 30th, 2024 – DHHS must post transition plan online and update quarterly.
      • April 1st, 2025 – DHHS will designate the districts and their ASOs.
      • July 1st, 2025 – the behavioral health system and ADRCs are implemented.
  • Social Media for Minors – House File 2523 requires parental consent for minors to access social media. There are many studies that show increased depression in youth using social media. This bill has passed the House and awaits assignment of a Senate Committee.
  • Therapeutic Classrooms – House File 2631 allows the Iowa Department of Education to retain and repurpose unspent therapeutic classroom transportation funds to support additional therapeutic classroom grants. The bill passed the House and has been assigned to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • Clinical Privileges – House File 2210 prohibits questions regarding past mental illness or substance use disorders for clinical privileges or licensure applications for health professions. This bill passed the House and has been assigned to Senate State Government Committee.
  • Voluntarily Holding Firearms – House File 2421 allows a person to voluntarily handover their firearm to a FFL dealer for safekeeping. This allows gunowners who are in mental health distress to give their property over while in crisis and have it returned when they are prepared. This bill passed the House and has been assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee.
Public Safety Bills Surviving the Second Funnel

The second legislative funnel deadline is Friday, March 15. Most bills that originated in the House must be approved by a Senate committee and vice versa. Below are some of the House Files from the Public Safety Committee that survived the second funnel.

SF 2161 / HF 2165 – False Reports to Law Enforcement
It is a class “D” felony if a person makes a false report or call to public safety officials and claims there is a: forcible felon occurring (felonious child endangerment, assault, murder, sexual abuse, kidnapping, robbery, human trafficking, arson in the first degree, or burglary in the first degree), intimidation with a dangerous weapon, an act of terrorism, unlawful possession of biological agents or diseases, any arson crime.

If one of the false claims above is made, and the information results in serious bodily injury or death of another, the person who made the false report is guilty of a class “C” felony.

HF 2531- Cabaret Nuisance
A public safety nuisance exists when someone at the adult cabaret commits any of the acts, either on the premises or within 500 feet of the premises:

  • Unlawfully fires a gun or uses an offensive weapon.
  • Assaults another with a dangerous weapon resulting in injury or death.
  • Engages in a riot three or more times in a 12-month period. The participants do not need to be the same people for each instance.

If the court determines the adult cabaret is a nuisance, they can order remedies including an injunction up to two years, temporary or complete closure, change in business practice or operation, or a bond.
A person convicted of erecting, causing, or continuing a public or common nuisance is guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor.

HF 2592 Updates to Brady Giglio Law
Allows an officer the right to petition the district court, appeal, or intervene in an action regarding the county attorney’s decision to place the officer on a brady Giglio list.

This gives the court jurisdiction over the prosecutor’s decisions on this matter.
The court shall perform an in-camera review of the evidence and may hold a closed hearing. The court may affirm, modify, or reverse a prosecutor’s decision and issues orders to remove the officers name from a brady Giglio list. Evidence presented shall be kept confidential.
Standard of proof under this chapter shall be preponderance of the evidence.

HF 2605 – Hemp Regulations
Limits the amount of THC in consumable hemp products to 4mg per serving and 10mg per container. Prohibits the sale of these consumable hemp products to a person under the age of 21. Ensures hemp regulations can be enforced by Health and Human Services. Requires hemp products to be labeled warning of the risks associated with consuming THC. Prohibits synthetic THC. This bill does NOT impact the medical cannabidiol program.

Key Senate Files Survive Second Funnel in State Government Committee

As the second legislative funnel approaches, the State Government Committee has passed several Senate Files to move them along the legislative process.

Senate File 2268 was reported out of committee and is a piece of legislation aimed at providing clearer guidelines for assistance animals at rental properties. While serious issues exist for individuals who use an assistance animal, there is a growing businesses designed to profit by taking advantage of current laws. These businesses directly sell documentation to people willing to pay the fees to claim a need for an assistance animal. These websites advertise similar to used car advertisements guaranteeing instant approvals and refunds if the animal isn’t approved. With the increase in telemedicine, these websites have started popping up offering instant emotional support animal status for a fee.

The Fair Housing Amendment Act of 1988 prohibits property managers from discriminating against any individual with the proper documentation or prescription letter from a licensed physician or mental health professional that illustrates the need for an emotional support animal to be allowed to live with the person in their housing. SF 2268 keeps those tenants in code, but provides further guidelines to ensure that individuals who request accommodations for their assistance animal meet these standards. The bill requires the individual to have a pre-existing provider-patient relationship with the licensed professional who verifies the needs of the assistance animal.

Additionally, the bill allows landlords to deny a request for an assistance animal if within the confines of existing state and federal law if it would provide an undue hardship on other individuals at the property, for instance at a property with shared HVAC systems a tenant with severe dog allergies would be negatively affected by an emotional service dog.

Senate File 2331 amends current code on public notice requirements for governmental bodies. This bill helps bridge the gap between where and how public notices are published. Currently public notices are required to be published in an official newspaper of record. These requirements have been in place before the mass expansion of the internet in the daily lives of Iowans. This issue has been discussed for a while as there are many Iowans who prefer to read the notices in their local newspaper, Iowans who only use the internet to get their information, and a delicate balance of how public and easily accessible online notices would be for Iowans.

SF 2331 aims to be the compromise and solution for these issues. It codifies the creation of a free to the public statewide public notice website that is managed by an organization that represents the majority of Iowa’s newspapers. Newspapers and governmental bodies are required to submit the notices to the state-wide website. This provides the notice both electronically and in the official newspapers. The statewide website is required to provide access to all public notices for one year from the publication date, to provide subscription alerts for notices by email, and to provide a searchable database of the notices to allow for searching by criteria.

Both pieces of legislation will move to the full House chamber for consideration to become state law.

Large Number of House Transportation Bills Still Alive

As the second funnel closes on the 2024 legislative session, a number of bills passed by the House Transportation Committee remain available for consideration as the final stretch of session starts.

The Committee passed out fifteen bills during its initial work this session. Ten of those have been passed off the House Floor and sent to the Senate for further action. Of these, five are awaiting action on the Senate floor, as the Senate Transportation Committee had already approved similar versions. These include the four policy bills put forth by the Department of Transportation, which are:

  • HF 2185 – Removing personal information of previous owners from a motor vehicle title;
  • HF 2186 – Streamlining the process for selling small parcels of land in right of ways;
  • HF 2187 – Eliminating two required reports on aspects of the Road Use Tax Fund; and
  • HF 2316 – Alternative to requiring bond for licensing and titling certain low-value vehicles.

The other bill on the Senate floor for action is House File 591, which would have Iowa join the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact.

While the remaining five bills were assigned subcommittees in Senate Transportation, it appears only two will be acted upon by that committee. The lucky survivors are HF 2568, which treats bicyclists the same as pedestrians in crosswalks, and HF 2579, which allows volunteer fire fighters and EMS personnel to get personalized numbers on their specialty license plates.

The three bills that appear to be left behind in the Senate Transportation Committee are:

  • HF 2569 – Mandating that US Highway 30 be four lanes across the state of Iowa;
  • HF 2307 – Requiring DOT to put information about required remedial driver action on the Department’s driver information database; and
  • HF 2451 – Road Construction Project standards.

There are a few bills that are residing on the calendars of both chambers, and thus still alive. Most prominent of these is the bill changing the school permit process for young drivers. The House Transportation Committee’s version of this is House File 2463. It is expected that the Senate will take action on their version of the bill first. Another bill that remains eligible for debate is House File 2447, which adjusts the maximum weight for trucks that are electric vehicles. The weight limit for these vehicles would be set at the same level as trucks powered by natural gas – 82,000 pounds.

Two bills that were passed by the Committee have not been acted on by the full House. House File 2452 would have set training requirements for motor grader operators who worked on county roads, and House File 2595, which would have limited the use of electronic devices while driving and also would have banned the use of automated traffic enforcement systems.  A bill making changes to Iowa’s system of motor vehicle titling to allow a person to get a title in any county – House File 2607 – is in the House Ways and Means Committee awaiting further action.

The Senate Transportation Committee was even more active before the first funnel than their House counterparts, with that committee passing out twenty bills. But so far, the Senate has sent just one of those to the House Transportation Committee. This bill, SF 2116, would require drivers on a multi-lane road to drive in the right lane and use the left lane for passing traffic. The committee passed the bill on to the House Floor at its final meeting of the General Assembly.

Storm Water Bill Heads Back to Senate

This week the House passed Senate File 455. This legislation addresses a burdensome regulation that has begun to be enacted by local governments across Iowa. These regulations imposed by cities and counties are exceeding state and federal regulations concerning water quality and increasing construction costs for new housing developments and renovations of existing structures and developments.

In 1978 the U.S. EPA delegated to the Department of Natural Resources permit issuance under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program. Under Iowa’s NPDES program, all facilities that discharge pollutants from any point source into waters of the United States or waters of the state are required to obtain an NPDES or operation permit, respectively. One of these permits is the General Permit No. 2, which covers stormwater discharge associated with construction activities.

Currently, the General Permit No. 2 requires that unless infeasible, permittees minimize compaction and preserve topsoil and any areas of the site where the ground is disturbed shall remain within the area. The permit also requires that erosion and sediment controls shall be installed to control stormwater volume and velocity.

SF 455, as amended by the House, only allows a city or county to adopt and enforce regulations that exceed these regulations if the city or county pays for the study, design, and engineering costs for a more restrictive runoff requirement as determined by a licensed engineer. This allows governments, if they deem necessary, to regulate above the state requirement but to take on the additional costs instead of passing the cost onto homebuilders and ultimately homebuyers.

With increasing inflation and interest rates continuing to rise, the housing market has seen rising costs in home sales. Regulations imposed on new construction in cities attempting to address a citywide issue will only drive increases in new home pricing and drive down new construction. SF 455 was sent back to the Senate for consideration of the amendment language.

Remaining Forums
Des Moines County:
Greater Burlington Partnership Friday Forum: Friday, March 8th from 8 – 9AM. (Was originally March 15th.)
(In person attendance for these forums are limited to chamber members only but a link to the live video of these forums and recordings of past Friday Forums can be found here. Questions can also be submitted through the chat live.)
Louisa County:
Saturday, March 2nd from 11AM – 12PM at Wapello City Hall in the City Council Chambers.
Henry County:
Mount Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast: Saturday, March 16th from 8 – 9AM at the Mount Pleasant Masonic Lodge #8.
Muscatine County:
Wilton Legislative Forum: Saturday, March 2nd from 9 – 10AM at Wilton City Hall in the Community Room.
Staying in Touch
As always, you also can shoot me an email with any questions or concerns at or you can call the Capitol Switchboard and leave me a message at (515) 281-7340.

Rep. Taylor Collins