by CBI Lobbyist Jeff Boeyink - Partner, LS2 Group
Overview / Major Events
Big work remains before the 2018 Session of the Iowa General Assembly moves into shutdown mode for the year—and little of what was accomplished this week actually gets us much closer to that date.
Why?—because House and Senate leaders remain apart on setting joint budget targets or a total amount to set aside for a final tax reform package. Senate leaders are insisting that House and Senate Republicans agree on the total tax cut amount in the tax reform bill and THEN set budget targets based on the remaining revenue. It appears the House would prefer to agree on spending targets first, and then see what remains for a potential tax cut.
Regardless, until the Chambers agree on these two key areas, meaningful budget work will remain undone and additional time will be added on the back of the calendar.
House Amends and Approves Eco-Terrorism Penalties
The Iowa House this week approved SF 2235, legislation previously passed in the Senate that would create harsh new penalties against those who engage in criminal acts against critical infrastructure targets. The legislation was spurred by attacks on the Dakota Access Pipeline by self-acclaimed eco-terrorists who torched construction equipment and attempted to blow up the pipeline using acetylene torches to punch holes in the pipeline and cause an explosion.
As defined in the bill, critical infrastructure covers pipelines, telecommunications facilities, power generation plants, water treatment operations, and other facilities. The House added language that those charged with such crimes must not only have the intent, but the means, to sabotage critical infrastructure facilities. SF 2235 passed the House 61-39 and goes to the Senate where that body is expected to concur with the House changes and send the bill to Governor Reynolds.
Governor Reynolds Signs Mental Health Reform
In her Condition of the State Address, Governor Reynolds outlined reforms in Iowa’s mental health system as one of her three key legislative priorities. Today she accomplished that task with the signing of HF 2456, a bill that continues the modernization process started in 2013 and ensures expanded services are available to Iowans in their own communities.
Earlier this year the General Assembly approved and the Governor signed Future Ready Iowa a major workforce initiative designed to help meet Iowa’s employment needs through skills gap training opportunities.
Still remaining on her agenda is significant tax reform, and expect the Legislature to send her a bill on this third priority before leaving for the year.