We have now competed 11 weeks of what is scheduled to be a 16-week session. However, the impasse over school funding has meant that the House and Senate have been unable to agree on joint budget targets and that neither Chamber has passed even one budget bill.
The state budget is normally crafted through nine separate budget bills and then a 10th bill that is known as “Standings” that provides one final opportunity to make last minute budget adjustments and is also often home to policy language that did not survive the normal funnel process but that has the support of leaders for inclusion as part of the end game.
If there is no resolution on school funding, then expect the House and Senate to set their own individual budget targets and begin moving their own version of budget bills to the other Chamber.
The bottom line for those who follow the process: don’t make any vacation plans in the month of May.
There was no movement on school funding this week. The House remains firm on growing supplemental state aid by 1.25% and the Senate will not move off of their position at 4.00%. In the meantime, school districts are likely going to have to start certifying their local budget soon and if there is no deal made, then they will likely to have to set their budgets based on zero for additional growth.
The House this week amended and passed SF 227, a bill to resolve the controversy regarding a start date for K-12 schools in Iowa. As originally passed in the Senate, SF 227 would ELIMINATE any state restriction on when schools would start and leave the decision in the hands of the local school board.
The House amended SF 227 to require that schools cannot start school prior to August 23—a move designed to ensure school does not start before the end of the Iowa State Fair and intended to give students the opportunity for extended summer employment and families the opportunity to enjoy tourist attractions in the state.
In a surprising move, the Iowa Senate approved the House amendment—which would normally end the process and send the bill to Governor Branstad. However, Senator Gronstal used a procedural move to indefinitely hold the bill in the Senate. Debate over this issue is not over.
Cell Tower Siting
A bill to streamline the process by which local governments approve plans for building additional cell tower sites in their communities was approved by a House Ways and Means subcommittee and is now eligible for full committee action. Proponents argue that rural broadband needs will be most readily filled by mobile broadband and that this bill, HF 556, will make it possible to expedite the deployment of these technologies and provide rural Iowans with greatly enhanced access to broadband.
Confirmation of Governor’s Appointees
This week the Iowa Senate confirmed Beth Townsend as the new Director of Iowa Workforce Development. Action on all the Governor’s appointees must be completed by April 15.
Efforts on Behalf of Community Bankers of Iowa:
HF 172 — powers and duties of corporate officers and directors—passed the House, 100-0 and moves to the Senate. CBI is registered as Undecided.
HF 555 —tax policy changes within the Iowa Economic Development Authority—passed House Ways and Means subcommittee. CBI is Undecided.