Overview / Major Events
Next week marks the first legislative benchmark and post-March 7 the number of issues facing the remainder of the 2019 Session will be significantly reduced. Below are some higher profile issues that moved forward this week.
The House State Government Committee late Thursday approved HSB 198, the initial House version of legislation to allow legal sports betting in Iowa. Like its Senate counterpart, HSB 198 would limit sports betting to the currently licensed Iowa casinos (and betting could take place on their premises or using a casino mobile app). Also like the Senate bill, the House version allows fantasy sports betting and does NOT allow the lottery or retail establishment to offer sports betting. The legislation rejects integrity and data fees from the professional sports leagues.
As the House and Senate have moved similar bills through the Committee process, the sports betting issues is now virtually funnel-proof and eligible for debate and resolution the remainder of the Session.
A proposed constitutional amendment to establish the rights of crime victims in the Iowa Constitution moved forward in both the House and Senate this week. Commonly referred to as Marsy’s Law, SJR 8 and HJR 11 both cleared subcommittees this week and are now eligible for full committee work in both Chambers, prior to the first funnel deadline. Proponents argue that our current criminal justice system minimizes the voice of victims, as the rights of the accused are embedded in our constitution, but it is silent when it comes to crime victims. Opponents point to existing Iowa Code that addresses victims’ rights and argue the issue doesn’t rise to the constitutional level.
Drug Prices and the Role of Pharmacy Benefit Managers
In an attempt to help reduce the price of drugs patients pay at the point of sale, the House and Senate both began moving legislation to require pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and their health carrier partners in Iowa to pass through drug discounts they negotiate with pharmaceutical manufacturers to their patients that use those drugs. Drug manufacturers paid over $150 billion last year to PBMs to discount the cost of brand name drugs and the bill requires that at least 51% of those discounts must find their way to the patients (in a manner that can be verified by the Iowa Insurance Division).
HF 489 cleared subcommittee on a 3-0 vote and the full House Commerce Committee on a 23-0 vote. SF 347, the Senate companion, was discussed in subcommittee and will likely move out of the Senate Human Services Committee early next week, as it enjoys strong bipartisan support.