Overview / Major Events
Day 100 has come and gone (it was on Tuesday). We are now officially in OVERTIME and the per diem paid to legislators has ended.
This week marked minimal floor activity in the General Assembly, but a great deal of behind-the-scenes work on budget and tax policy between the House, Senate, and Governor’s office.
Governor Reynolds canceled an economic development trip to NYC this week to remain at the Capitol and directly engage with House and Senate leaders in negotiations on the tax legislation.
According to a number of knowledgeable sources, the issues on the tax legislation have been significantly resolved and a deal could be consummated as early as the end of this week. If this comes to pass, budget differences will quickly fall into place and we could make a run to adjournment next week.
House and Senate Budget Differences Narrow
Iowa’s state budget is traditionally crafted in 10 separate budget bills that must make their way through the process. Normally the House takes the initial lead on five of the bills and the Senate the other five. This week the House moved five budget bills out of Appropriations Committee and readied them for floor action next week. Those budgets include Transportation, Judicial Branch, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Justice Systems, and Economic Development. The Senate has yet to move any of their budgets, but this week both Chambers released budget targets and those targets are ONLY $5 million apart from one another (an extremely small difference in a budget that totals more than $7 billion).
Sweeping Communications Modernization legislation heads to Governor Reynolds
This week the House gave final passage to a comprehensive regulatory reform package of the telecommunications industry and the next step is Governor Reynolds’ desk for review and approval.
HF 2446 was approved 98-0 after the House concurred with a Senate amendment to the bill (the House initially passed the bill on March 1 and the Senate amended and passed the bill on March 20). HF 2446 was the result of a years long effort between wireless carriers, traditional local telephone providers, and the Iowa Utilities Board to resolve differences over the regulatory treatment of internet protocol services (such as VoIP) and local deregulatory issues. Combined with earlier legislation on cell tower siting and small cell deployment, and Iowa’s active participation in the federal FirstNet initiative, HF 2446 modernizes the regulatory environment in Iowa and sets the stage for the deployment of the whole variety of connected technologies.