Here is IEC's legislative news bulletin for March 6 – 10, 2023.
State lawmakers spared no time jumping into floor action after a very busy funnel week. Last Monday, the House passed a few noncontroversial bills on the floor. On Tuesday, the Senate took up three of the most controversial issues this session including a ban on gender-affirming care, a prohibition on transgender student bathroom usage, and the Governor’s massive government realignment bill. Then on Wednesday, the House took up the gender-affirming care ban, a bill restricting books in school libraries, and legislation banning instruction on sex or gender until after the 6th grade. Each chamber also passed several other noncontroversial items across the rotunda with the second funnel deadline just three weeks away.
Senate Approved Massive Government Reorganization Bill
The Senate passed the Governor’s state reorganization bill on a 34-15 vote Thursday, with Democrat Senator Tony Bisignano joining Republicans in advancing the 1,500-page document. Democrats offered a number of amendments, but all were voted down on party lines. Senator Bisignano voted for the legislation stating he wanted to be part of the conversation as he was told changes would be coming to the bill in the House.
Senate Amended Bill to Limit the State Auditor’s Powers
With a last-minute amendment on the floor, Senate Republicans added language to SF 478 which Senate Democrats argued would limit the ability of the auditor to conduct audits, lead to additional waste and fraud, and is intended to restrict the power of the only statewide elected Democrat, State Auditor Rob Sand. Senator Bousselot argued that the bill is an important step in protecting the privacy of Iowans and offered an amendment to expand the material protected under the bill. The bill passed along party lines and must go through the House committee process before the second funnel deadline.
IEC continues to watch and engage on a slate of bills that would cut transparency and increase energy bills. This is the largest movement we have seen in years to shift power away from Iowans and Main Street businesses in favor of the monopoly energy companies and the biggest corporations in the state.
We remain extremely concerned that SF 198, which gives utilities free rein to invest more in old coal plants without oversight, could come up for debate in the Senate at any time – please weigh in now! And we need every voice possible contacting the House Representatives on HF 662 to speak up for the Office of Consumer Advocate – the first line of defense for utility ratepayers in cases at the IUB - after the Senate approved changes last week as part of the government reorganization bill.
Social Issues and Environmental Advocacy
Each year during the legislative session, thousands of people rely on our bill tracker, action alerts, and Legislative News Bulletin to keep them informed of issues they care about. Recently, we’ve been receiving inquiries as some individuals and media outlets notice seemingly unrelated issues appear in our legislative work, related to gender, diversity, education, and other social issues. In a new blog post, we explain why it is important to engage on these legislative topics.
We do not expect the pace of debate to slow this week as lawmakers push their priority bills forward in the process. Each chamber has hundreds of bills they could consider, many of which will require passage from a subcommittee and committee in the opposite chamber to make the second funnel, which falls on Friday, March 31.
As a reminder, a list of scheduled committees and subcommittees with their virtual access information can be found at the provided link.
See our bill highlights below, view the bill tracker for the full list of bills that remain alive, and check out our action alerts for action you can take now.