One year ago at this time the General Assembly was within two weeks of adjournment and budget bills were either bouncing back and forth between the Chambers or already in subcommittee. This year, however, is an entirely different story.
With May 1 fast approaching (this is the day that legislative per diem runs out and legislators begin paying their own expenses while in Des Moines), not a single budget bill has passed either Chamber as the impasse over school funding continues.
What makes this more interesting is the fact that local school districts are legally bound to pass their own budgets for the upcoming fiscal year by April 15. Lacking clarity from the state over the amount of new supplemental state aid they can expect, many school districts will likely choose to adopt budgets either based on an anticipated growth rate of zero (assuming no resolution) or at the House level of 1.25%.
In addition, there is a real possibility that, lacking any real work to do until the budget question is resolved, House and Senate leaders may send their members home for an extended time period and bring them back only when larger budget decisions have been made.
View the Iowa Legislative Bill Tracker.
This week the Iowa Senate took action to confirm many of Governor Branstad’s key appointments. Those confirmed this week include:
- Donna Harvey (Director of the Department of Aging)
- Jerry Bartruff (Director of the Department of Corrections)
- Debi Durham (Director of the Economic Development Authority)
- Dave Jamison (Director of the Iowa Finance Authority)
- Rod Roberts (Director of the Department of Inspections and Appeals)
- Gerd Claybaugh (Director of the Department of Public Health)
- Roxanne Ryan (Commissioner of Public Safety)
- Doug Hoelscher (Director of the Office for State-Federal Relations)
Legislation of note that moved this week:
One of Governor Branstad’s top legislative priorities, HF 576 (designed to facilitate the build out of broadband access in targeted areas) was approved by the House Ways and Means Committee and now moves to the House calendar for consideration by the entire Chamber.
The effort to legalize the firearm suppressors (commonly referred to as silencers) continues, as the Iowa House amended and returned to the Senate, SF 427.
Wiccan Priestess leads prayer in Iowa House:
Each day when the House and Senate begin their business, it is customary for someone to lead the Chamber in an opening prayer. Most often a House or Senate member will invite a member of the clergy from their district to give the prayer.
On Thursday, in what most Capitol historians believe to be a first, the House prayer was led by a Wiccan Priestess. This, of course, caused some controversy and resulted in a larger than normal crowd in the balcony to witness the event and possible responses to it. While the prayer was being given, a group of local Christians in the balcony quietly recited the Lord’s Prayer in response.
In addition to the Wiccan’s who were at the Capitol to witness this event, there were also large contingents of home school advocates and Civil War reenactment soldiers in full dress uniforms present at the Capitol at the same time—which prompted one lobbyist in response to the eclectic groups gathered to quip: “If I next see a group of animals entering the Capitol two-by-two we will know the end times are here.”
Thus ends Week 13 at the Iowa Capitol!
Efforts on Behalf of Community Bankers of Iowa:
- HF 172, a bill dealing with the powers and duties of corporate officers and directors cleared the Iowa Senate and will now go to Governor Branstad. CBI was undecided on this legislation.
- HF 286, a bill to expand employers’ ability to require their employees to use direct deposit for their pay, passed the Senate Business and Labor Relations Committee and moves to the Senate calendar. CBI is undecided in this legislation.