by CBI Lobbyist
Overview / Major Events
With the first legislative funnel looming on February 19, the pace of Week 5 was frenetic (more than 150 subcommittee meetings were held over the last four days as the race to keep issues alive went into overdrive). Next week the bulk of the work shifts to the standing committees where policy bills must be approved by the end of that week in order to remain eligible for the remainder of the year. Watch for next week’s newsletter to get a more complete picture of what survived and what failed (keeping in mind that tax bills and spending bills are exempt from the funnel deadlines).
Senate Votes to Terminate Medicaid Managed Care
Senate Democrats continued their assault on the efforts of Governor Branstad to transition the state’s Medicaid system from a state-run fee-for-service model to a privately run managed care model. Iowa’s Medicaid system costs Iowa taxpayers more than $1 billion a year, with billions more in federal tax dollars also administered by the state to provide health care for Iowa’s poor. Early in 2015, Governor Branstad embarked on a process to transition the provision of Medicaid services and join nearly 30 other states that use a managed care model to help control costs and improve patient outcomes.
The Iowa Hospital Association has led the charge to stop this effort and this week the Iowa Senate passed legislation to terminate the contracts that have been signed with private health care companies to take over the Medicaid system on March 1 (assuming the state receives the go-ahead from the federal government to proceed).
Iowa Utilities Board Nearing Decision on Bakken Pipeline
The Iowa Utilities Board is today wrapping up four straight days of deliberations on the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline, as they determine whether or not to join the three other states that have already approved the project (North Dakota, South Dakota, and Illinois). The IUB has yet to set a deadline on when it will ultimately make a determination on the proposed project. Currently, Dakota Access has secured the voluntary consent of 80% of the landowners in Iowa through which the underground crude oil pipeline is slated to cross.
- Subcommittees in both the House and Senate met to discuss legislation being pushed by the credit unions to provide them with so-called “federal parity” – meaning they would potentially get to add any new additional powers that are granted now or in the future to federal credit unions (while also keeping the additional powers they already are granted as state-chartered credit unions).
- CBI and the Iowa Bankers spoke against the legislation, arguing that the current tax disparities in federal and state code give credit unions a competitive advantage over banks for the provision of any new services they are able to add to their scope (such as trust services).
- CBI and the Iowa Bankers also argued that, just as we do for state-chartered banks, if credit unions want to offer additional services to the scope, they should seek it directly from the legislature.
- The Senate subcommittee voted to move the bill forward to the full Senate Commerce Committee (SSB 3018). The House subcommittee declined to support the bill and it will not move forward in the House (HSB 557).