Legislative Wrap Up




As Iowa lawmakers ended the 2024 legislative session, Republican leaders said they passed their priorities, including changes to Iowa’s Area Education Agencies, many K-12 education initiatives and income tax cuts.

“Iowa has set a course for transformation, and it was the driving force of the 2024 legislative session,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement after the session concluded at 4:23 a.m. Saturday.

The course of this year’s legislative session was dominated primarily by the governor’s proposal making major changes to Iowa’s AEAs, the nine agencies providing special education services in addition to other education and media service support for K-12 schools throughout the state.

The law signed in March was significantly scaled back from the governor’s initial proposal to send all state and federal special education funding currently going to AEAs directly to public school districts instead. But the three-month path to that agreement, which included an increase to teachers’ starting salaries and the state’s public K-12 education funding for the year, was contentious. Lawmakers received hundreds of emails and messages from constituents, advocates, parents and teachers and supporters of the AEAs held protests at the Capitol and the governor’s mansion, all calling for the Legislature to drop the bill.

The AEA changes – as well as other bills the governor proposed, like reductions to Iowa’s system of boards and commissions, as well as a proposal to define “sex” in Iowa Code, resulted in protests and campaigns by advocates who said the measures would negatively impact vulnerable populations in the state.

While the “sex” definition bill did not pass, a majority of Reynolds’ legislative goals for the 2024 session found their way to her desk.

“Iowa is a state that values education, rewards hard work, and encourages strong families. A place where government is driven by a sense of responsibility to the people it serves,” Reynolds said. “I’m proud of what we accomplished this year and I look forward to continuing to build upon our strong foundation, ensuring prosperity and stability for every Iowan.” 

Democrats criticized Republican lawmakers for not standing up to the governor – especially on issues like the AEA proposal, which faced pushback from some Republicans. Speaking with reporters Friday night, House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst said “it’s incredibly clear that there’s one person in charge of Republicans at the Capitol – and that’s Governor Reynolds.”

“I continue to remind my colleagues that we are a separate branch of government and that we don’t work for the governor,” Konfrst said. “But the Republican leadership and Republican legislators sure act like they do.”

The debate over AEAs and other points of contention within the Republican majorities in both chambers were brought up in House Speaker Pat Grassley and House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl’s closing remarks Saturday, as they reflected on the session. Windschitl said 2024 was “one of the hardest sessions that I’ve ever been in,” saying it was more difficult than even the 2020 session during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both leaders reflected on the difficulties of the year, but also praised the work Republicans were able to do this session, passing bills on many of the issues they came into the session planning to take action on.

Grassley said House Republicans were able to get most of their own legislative priorities passed, as well as work together with the governor and Senate Republicans to change the Reynolds’ proposals to find compromises that his caucus felt will better the state.

“Obviously, the governor laid out a very bold agenda when it came to things like the AEA issue, and we were able to work with all interested parties to, I think, really land in a really good place,” Grassley told reporters. “So those bigger priorities that were laid out early on in session … some of those really high-profile ones, we were able to advance the ball.”

While Republican leadership spent hours in closed-door negotiations on high-profile bills changing the AEAs and making tax cuts, communication between the chambers was not always clear. During the second funnel week, House Republicans sent hundreds of bills to the Senate that were not taken up for consideration. Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver said in March that the Legislature doesn’t need to pass “that many bills, in my opinion, to make Iowa strong and to keep Iowa strong.” 

In his closing remarks, Whitver repeated that the bills passed in 2024 were goals set out by Republicans in January to make Iowa better, calling the session “another tremendous success for Senate Republicans as we kept our promises to Iowans and focused on big reforms, bold changes, and major tax relief.”

With the November general election now on the horizon, lawmakers plan to tout this year’s bills on the campaign trail. Grassley said the income tax cuts – characterized as a billion-dollar tax reduction by Republicans – may be a show of proof to Iowans that Republican legislators are committed to further tax reductions in future sessions.

Democrats said they plan to use the legislation passed by Republicans this session, especially on AEAs, to highlight the need for Democratic leaders in Iowa. Konfrst called the AEA bill “probably one of the biggest political mistakes I’ve seen in this Legislature. She said she and Democrats plan to highlight the differences between the measures supported by Republicans and those introduced by House Democrats on the campaign trail on issues like expanding reproductive health care access and supporting Iowa’s public education system.

“We introduced all of those things, and Republicans ignored each and every one of them,” Konfrst said. “The things we’ve introduced this legislative session for everyday Iowans to help make their lives better, and Republicans chose politics and special interests.”

Senate Majority Leader Pam Jochum called the end of session “bittersweet,” as she is retiring from the Legislature this year. As Iowans approach the next election, she called for voters “to remember how Republicans chose to serve their governor rather than their constituents.”

Though the session has concluded, there’s still action left to be taken on many measures. The governor has 30 days from the end of session – May 20 – to sign bills passed during the session into law. Reynolds has also already signed into law several measures, including legislation on topics she named as top priorities for 2024.

Here’s a rundown of some notable bills Reynolds has signed, as well as those sent to the governor and the ones that didn’t make it to the finish line from the legislative session:

Signed into law

Area Education Agencies, teacher pay: One of the highest-profile bills of the 2024 legislative session,  House File 2612, was signed into law by Reynolds in March. The bill changes the funding structure for Iowa’s Area Education Agencies, the entities providing special education services and other supports to Iowa schools. The bill designates that 90% of a school district’s special education funding is allocated to AEAs beginning in the law’s second year of implementation, with 10% of the funds being kept with school districts to use at their discretion. Funds AEAs currently receive for general education and media services would fully go to school districts, with the ability to spend those funds with the AEAs or other providers.

The standing appropriations bill, the last piece of legislation passed Saturday, delivered an additional $32.5 million cut to AEAs. Part of that reduction – $10 million – goes toward the Iowa Department of Education division of special education for employee positions, as part of the law shifted oversight duties currently performed internally by the agencies to the state department.

The AEA law also incorporated other legislation discussed this year, including an increase to teachers’ minimum starting salaries to $50,000 in year two, and a minimum salary of $62,000 for teachers with 12 or more years of experience. The law also allocates funding to increase pay for paraeducators and other education support staff.

This bill also set a 2.5% state supplemental aid rate for Iowa’s public schools. Reynolds said the bill in total represented a $4 billion investment in Iowa’s K-12 education system.

Armed school staff: Reynolds signed House File 2586, a bill on school security, on Friday. The law provides qualified immunity for school staff with permits to carry firearms and their employers from criminal and civil liability for damages “pursuant to the application of reasonable force.” Supporters of the bill said it addressed concerns brought up by school districts that were denied liability insurance when they implemented policies allowing school employees to carry firearms. The Senate amended the bill to remove the creation of the School Security Personnel Grant, funds for schools to hire police or security officers.

AI-generated pornography: The governor has signed into law two measures, House File 2240 and Senate File 2243, creating criminal charges for generating images and videos depicting a person engaged in a sexual act, a simulacrum of a sexual act, and in full or partial nudity. The bills establish an aggravated misdemeanor charge for depictions of adults, and felony charge for depictions of a minor. 

The creation of this criminal charge comes following concerns about the use of artificial intelligence technology to generate pornography of individuals without their knowledge or consent.

Boy Scouts settlement: Senate File 2431 lifts the time limit on legal action for child sexual abuse cases specifically for victims involved in the Boy Scouts of America Settlement.

Reynolds signed the measure Friday, the final day of possible action allowing Iowans involved in the $2.46 settlement to receive equitable payouts in comparison to other states with less restrictive statutes of limitations for child sexual assault cases.

Foreign agricultural land ownership: The governor signed Senate File 2204 on April 9. The law will grant the state attorney general more powers on oversight related to foreign land ownership, including the ability to subpoena foreign landowners for financial records and land purchase agreements for investigations into potential violations of foreign farmland owner restrictions.

Gender balance repeal: The governor signed into law Senate File 2096, repealing a rule implemented in 1987 that requires state boards and commissions to have equal numbers of men and women as members. While opponents said the rule has helped ensure women have equitable representation in government, Reynolds and supporters argued it was preventing the most qualified candidates from filling open positions.

Hotel/motel inspections: House File 2426 shifts hotel and motel inspection requirements from biennial inspections to inspecting hotels typically on the basis of complaints.

Illegal immigration: Senate File 2340, modeled after a Texas law being challenged in the federal Court of Appeals, would make illegal immigration a state crime in Iowa. Iowa law enforcement officers could charge individuals with an aggravated misdemeanor if they have been deported, denied admission or removed from the country, or if they have an order to leave. The law also also allows state judges to order the deportation of undocumented immigrants, with state agencies and law enforcement being given the ability to transport migrants to U.S. ports of entry.

More Options for Maternal Support (MOMS) program changes: Senate File 2252 makes changes to the More Options for Maternal Support (MOMS) program, the initiative to provide state funding for “crisis pregnancy centers,” maternal care nonprofits that encourage women to pursue abortion alternatives. 

The bill gives the Iowa Department Health and Human Services direct control over the MOMS program and contracts with providers – a change from the original law’s requirement that a third-party administrator take on those duties. The change comes after HHS Director Kelly Garcia said the state twice failed to find a qualified third-party applicant for the position.

Funding through the MOMS program is designated to go to organizations providing “qualified pregnancy support services,” such as counseling and support, material items like cribs and diapers, as well as adoption support services and parenthood classes.

Religious freedom: Senate File 2095 is a state version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The law provides that a higher legal standard will be used for evaluating whether a government action infringes on an individual’s ability to freely practice their religion. It requires the government to show a compelling interest and that it is using the least restrictive means when taking action that “substantially” burdens a person’s religious rights. Democrats have argued that state RFRA laws are used to target LGBTQ individuals and religious minorities by those claiming to be practicing religious beliefs.

Storm water and top soil: Reynolds signed a measure banning local regulations on stormwater and topsoil that are more restrictive than federal and state guidelines. Regulations on topsoil preservation, compaction, placement or depth would have to be the same or less restrictive than the requirements set by the Department of Natural Resources and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, and stormwater runoff regulations would have to be at or below those based on flow rates calculated using return frequencies of five years. Senate File 455 does allow more restrictive regulations if the city or county pays for any increased costs of development associated with the higher standards – funding Democrats said would come from local taxpayers through the locality’s general fund.

Student aid commission reporting: House File 2153 would strike certain reporting requirements for the Iowa College Student Aid Commission and have the organization provide reports on the number of students who have received state financial aid, as well as its methodology for awards. Reynolds signed the bill April 19.

Veterans’ benefits: House File 259 was signed into law on April 18. Reynolds said the bill would close a gap in eligibility for veterans’  benefits for some Iowans with military service-related disabilities, such as from training injuries, who did not meet the active duty requirement in current law.

Sent to the governor

Agriculture and environment

Ethanol infrastructure: House File 2687 would modify a 2022 law that says new gas stations and those that are updated must use dispensers that are compatible with E85, a blend that is 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Instead, new dispensers must be compatible with at least E15 until next year, then E40 until 2030, then E85 thereafter under the modification.

Fake meat and eggs: Senate File 2391 would prohibit Iowa food processors from using words that are typically associated with butchered meat on labels for imitation meat products – those that are made of insects, plants or lab-grown meat. There is an exception for labels that also contain such words as fake, imitation or vegetarian. Violations can incur fines of up to $10,000. Iowans could not use food benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to purchase egg substitutes.


Childhood literacy: Democrats said many of the initiatives required in House File 2618 are already strategies teachers use to improve student literacy, but the bill still passed both chambers with bipartisan support. The legislation requires schools to notify parents and guardians of K-6 students if their child is not reading at grade level proficiency, and inform them that they can request the student repeat a grade. Children not meeting grade-level literacy benchmarks must also be given a personalized plan to help them catch up to their peers.

Community college reporting requirements: House File 2615 would require community colleges to provide on their websites a link to the Iowa student outcomes website, and have school districts provide the student outcomes website link and an Iowa Board of Regents report on state university student outcomes to juniors and seniors who have expressed interest in higher education. The bill would also make college and career transition counselors exempt from supplemental weighting for funding purposes. 

Community college state aid distribution formula: Senate File 2405 strikes the current community college aid distribution formula and hands over the responsibility of its development to Iowa’s community college leaders. If 10 out of the 15 heads cannot agree on an aid formula by Oct. 31 each year, the Iowa Department of Education will take over its development. Enrollment and combined support for each college must be factored in when creating the formula, and no school can receive less state funding than in previous years unless there is a base reduction in appropriations. A separate bill on education appropriations modified this provision by allocating half of the $7 million in state aid for community colleges through the current formula.

Education appropriations: Senate File 2435 would appropriates funds for Iowa’s community colleges, the Iowa Department of Education, Department for the Blind, the Iowa Board of Regents and the universities it governs and more. Each of the state universities would receive a 2.5% increase in general university funding alongside Iowa tuition grants. 

Private universities would be required to submit annual reports on the number of students receiving Iowa tuition grants and other information on them and graduate outcomes, at the risk of students not being eligible for tuition grants if they do not submit reports. 

State universities would also be prohibited from establishing, maintaining or funding diversity, equity and inclusion offices under the bill, unless required by state or federal law or accreditors. 

The bill would also create processes to deal with chronic absenteeism and truancy in schools, having school district boards adopt policies for interventions and penalties when a student is chronically absent with the county attorney’s involvement. 

Social studies curriculum: House File 2545 calls for the Iowa Board of Education to conduct a review and to revise Iowa’s social studies standards to require classes to cover subjects like “exemplary figures and important events” from western civilization, U.S. and Iowa history. Instruction on the form and process of U.S. federal and state government is also required, as is comparison of American government to other forms of government – as well as coverage of “the crimes against humanity that have occurred under communist regimes since 1917.”

The bill also charges the Iowa Department of Education Director, currently McKenzie Snow, to conduct a review of Iowa’s educational standards, school curriculum and high school graduation rates, and to give recommendations to the governor and lawmakers by July 1, 2025.

Work-based learning, student teaching changes: Senate File 2411 would expanded work-based learning programs and establish the Workforce Opportunity Fund using dollars from the Unemployment Compensation Reserve fund. It also shortens student teaching requirements for certain students with substitute or paraeducator experience and changes requirements for the Last-Dollar Scholarship program. 

Health care

Behavioral health system: House File 2673 would establish the Behavioral Health Services System (BHSS) in Iowa. This new system would take on the duties of the existing Mental Health and Disabilities Services (MHDS), as well as incorporating substance abuse and other addiction recovery services. From this, MHDS would move it into an advisory role with disability care going under the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services’ division of disability and aging services. The new system would also combine the current 13 mental health and 19 substance abuse regions into seven total districts for all relevant care.

Nursing home training: Though two House Republican proposals on nursing homes, House File 2585 and House File 2391, did not pass as standalone bills, portions of the bills’ language were added to the health and human services budget. The incorporated measures include the establishment of joint training sessions with nursing home staff and inspectors about the most common complaints, and a requirement for temporary staffing agencies that employ workers at Iowa nursing homes to register with the Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licensing.

The original bills would have also set a 150% cap on maximum allowable charges for temp staffing agency workers at care facilities based on the statewide average wage to nursing services workers and added exceptions to DIAL’s on-site inspection requirements.

Postpartum Medicaid coverage: Lawmakers approved an extension of Medicaid coverage for new mothers and infants, funded in part  through the 2021 federal coronavirus pandemic emergency plan signed by President Joe Biden. Senate File 2251 extends postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 1 year, but also restricts eligibility for the coverage to families with incomes at or below 215% the federal poverty line. This restriction is a drop from the state’s previous 375% FPL income limit, a level that Democrats advocated for keeping in place.

State and local government

Boards and commissions: Senate File 2385 shrinks Iowa’s system of boards and commissions. Of the current 256 boards and commissions, the legislation would eliminate 74, in addition to consolidating nine boards into three new bodies. The bill also makes changes to the powers and make-up of some panels. The legislation received pushback from groups like the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, which opposed the changes made to Iowa’s Civil Rights Commission and the elimination of commissions representing specific marginalized groups.

Emotional support animals: Senate File 2268 would allow landlords to request documentation from potential tenants showing that a medical provider has deemed the person has a legitimate need for an emotional support or service animal. The legislation outlines requirements for the doctor who gave animal registration, requiring they have a prior relationship with the tenant, in addition to outlining reasons why a landlord can reasonably deny requests for keeping an assistance animal on the property. The bill was amended by the House to clarify that service animals – like seeing eye dogs, or other animals assisting people with physical disabilities – are not impacted by the proposal.

Guaranteed income programs: House File 2319 prohibits local governments from implementing guaranteed income programs. The legislation would largely impact the UpLift program in central Iowa that provides 110 people with a supplemental income of $500 per month with no work requirements or restrictions on how the money can be spent. 

Hemp-derived products: House File 2605 puts limits and regulations on hemp-derived consumable products, like Delta-9 drinks or gummies, that contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

The bill sets a limit of 4 milligrams of THC per serving in consumable hemp products, and a 10 mg THC limit per container, in addition to requiring manufacturers include warning labels on these products. It also adds new restrictions and penalties related to the sale, manufacturing and possession of hemp-derived consumable products, and imposes an age requirement of 21 for buying consumable hemp products. 

Income tax constitutional amendments: Lawmakers advanced two constitutional amendments on income taxes. House Joint Resolution 2006 would require a two-thirds majority vote from the Legislature to pass future increases to income taxes. The other proposal, Senate Joint Resolution 2004, would codify a flat income tax rate in the constitution. As constitutional amendments, both measures must pass a second time in the next General Assembly before being put before voters on the next general election ballot. If the ballot provision is supported by a majority of voters, the language will be adopted into the state constitution.

Individual income tax: Senate File 2442 is the final product of long negotiations between Republican lawmakers and the governor on how to proceed with speeding up the 2022 income tax cuts. The final bill lowers Iowa’s individual income tax to a 3.8% flat rate beginning in 2025, a cut from the 3.9% flat income tax by 2026 in the original law.

Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, said the legislation will result in a billion-dollar tax reduction for the state. The tax cuts will be financed in part by excess tax revenue from the state’s revenue surplus, as well as by a withdrawal from Iowa’s Taxpayer Relief Fund.

The bill also includes other components relating to the 2023 property tax law, such as adjustments to the thresholds for determining what percentage of growth rate in total assessed property value will trigger a required reduction to the local governments’ general fund levies. 

Open meetings and records: House File 2539 raises penalties for violations of the state’s open meetings laws from fines between $100 and $500 to fines between $500 and $2,500. Knowing violations of open meetings laws would increase from fines of between $1,000 and $2,500 to $5,000 and $12,500 under the bill. The bill also creates a new exception to the open meetings law allowing a quorum of elected officials to attend certain functions, such as political meetings, as long as policy is not discussed.

Traffic cameras: House File 2681 gives the Iowa Department of Transportation oversight of how Iowa cities and counties implement automatic traffic enforcement (ATE) systems, like traffic cameras. Iowa local governments and law enforcement would be required to justify the need for  a traffic camera at a specified location based on safety issues. Localities with fewer than 20,000 residents could not use the technology to issue tickets and no speeding tickets could be issued for violations that are less than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. Local governments would be required to use the funds that are collected for transportation infrastructure improvements and police and fire departments’ operational costs.


Agriculture and environment

Eminent domain: Though House File 2522 received support from a Senate subcommittee, the measure was not taken up by the Senate Ways and Means committee. The bill proposed allowing landowners to pursue judicial review of the carbon dioxide pipeline requests earlier in the state’s permit process, in addition to enabling challenges to state regulators’ decisions on pipeline permits in court. These measure could have the ability to halt pipeline construction without having to post a bond covering the pipeline companies’ financial losses related to delays.

Grain Indemnity Fund: Senate File 2401 would roughly double the fund’s operating balance and will expand its coverage to credit-sale contracts. The fund reimburses farmers for their losses when a state-licensed grain dealer buys their corn or soybeans but goes defunct before paying. 

Livestock feedlots: Senate File 2371 proposed allowing open feedlots owners to dispose of manure under certain conditions, if failure to do so would potentially contaminate Iowa waterways. The legislation had been amended to remove a measure allowing feedlot operators to spread manure on farm fields for longer periods of time without state approval.

Pesticide lawsuits: The House did not take up Senate File 2412, a bill providing legal protections for pesticide manufacturers facing accusations of failing to adequately warn consumers about the potential health risks associated with their products. The bill would have given civil liability defense to pesticide manufacturers in lawsuits over the health impacts of products meeting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency labeling requirements. The bill was supported by Bayer, the manufacturer of RoundUp, which has agreed to pay $10 billion to settle cancer lawsuits in relation to the product’s link with development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Public lands: A measure that has been proposed in previous legislative cycles barring the Iowa Department of Natural Resources from obtaining new land at auction or from not-for-profit groups that obtained the land at auction for the department was passed by the Senate in 2024. Senate File 2324 failed to advance in the House.


Citizenship proof for in-state tuition: Iowans seeking to get in-state tuition at Regents universities would have been required to show proof of U.S. citizenship to qualify for in-state tuition under House File 2320. The bill did not advance to the House floor. 

Exceptions to immunization requirements: Senate File 2196 would have required that school communications on immunization requirements for students attending licensed child care centers and K-12 schools list what exceptions are allowed, as well as the requirements for being granted an exemption. The bill was amended by the House to include requirements that schools have a seizure action plan for students with epilepsy or other conditions causing seizures, in addition to requiring at least one staff member be trained on assistance if someone experiences a seizure, but it was not picked back up by the Senate.

Fetal development videos: House File 2617 would have required schools’ human growth and development and health classes in grades 7 through 12 to include curriculum related to the stages of fetal development during a pregnancy from fertilization to birth, as well as having classes show computer-generated renderings or animations depicting “the humanity of the unborn child” and ultrasound videos on the fetal growth of brain and organs in utero. Sen. Jeff Taylor, R-Sioux Center proposed an amendment to drop the House’s original references to the “Meet Baby Olivia” video, content that was produced by the anti-abortion group Live Action. However, the Senate Education Committee did not take up the bill.

Gender-neutral terms in world language classes: House File 2048 was not taken up by the full House. The bill would have prohibited instruction involving gender-neutral terms in 9th through 12th grade classes for languages that have a “grammatical gender system.” 

Names and pronouns: House File 2396 proposed prohibiting school districts and charter schools from taking disciplinary action against teachers and students for addressing a person by their legal name instead of their preferred name and pronouns. Action on these issues would be forbidden even if a parent has registered a request for their child to use a different name or pronouns in school, as was required in a 2023 law that included components on parental involvement in how transgender students are addressed in schools.

National anthem: The bill that prompted lawmakers to stand and sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a subcommittee meeting did not advance this year. The House Education Committee did not take up House Study Bill 587, legislation that would have required Iowa students sing a verse of the national anthem each school day.

School chaplains: House File 2073 and Senate Study Bill 3092 proposed allowing chaplains to be employed or volunteer at Iowa schools to provide “support, services and programs” to students. The proposal, which did not advance to Education committees in either chamber, is modeled off of a 2023 Texas law aimed at addressing counseling staff shortages in schools through employing chaplains.

Tuition caps, university program changes: House File 2558, also known as the “Higher Education Reform Act of 2024,” would have capped tuition and frozen it for incoming students and codified DEI directives made by the Iowa Board of Regents to the universities it governs. It also would have added members of the general assembly to the board of regents, changed the board’s meeting schedule and required the creation of a presidential search committee to hire university presidents. Community colleges and state universities would have been required to develop programs for students studying while working under a registered employer and include in their strategic plans how they are prioritizing academic areas in high-demand fields. 

Health care

Birth control: The governor has tried to introduce a measure allowing access to hormonal contraception medications without a prescription in the state for several sessions, but it has repeatedly failed to advance despite bipartisan support. House File 2584, this year’s proposal authorizing the state medical director to establish a standing order for pharmacists to be able to distribute self-administered birth control without a prescription, passed the House Health and Human Services Committee but was not brought to the floor.

Cameras in nursing homes: As in years past, lawmakers chose not to back legislation that would allow the families of Iowa nursing home residents to install cameras in their relatives’ rooms to monitor their care. House File 2317 and Senate File 2073 never advanced in either chamber after being introduced, despite the fact that no lobbyists were officially declared as opposing the measure.

Child care workers: The House moved forward with an amended bill allowing child care workers under age 18 to work with children younger than 5 without adult supervision for “flex care” periods. While Republican supporters said House File 319 would only allow minor employees to assist unsupervised during nap times or when other staff are taking short breaks – work that is not allowed under current law – Democrats argued the measure was more expansive, and that minor employees should not be working unsupervised for long periods of time.

Opioid settlement fund: Funds from Iowa’s Opioid Settlement Fund, the money received in lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and pharmacies for their role in the opioid crisis, will remain undistributed for another year. Lawmakers could not find a compromise on the proposal to distribute this money, Senate File 2395, before adjourning. The House proposed setting up an advisory council to award and distribute one-time funding grants annually to applicants for the use of opioid addiction treatment and prevention services, in addition to funding three specific nonprofits. The Senate amended the advisory committee out of the legislation, a change the House rejected.

Unborn personhood: A bill increasing penalties for the nonconsensual ending of a pregnancy died during the funnel this session because of its potential impacts on in-vitro fertilization. In addition to the raised charges, House File 2575 included language changes on these crimes, switching references from the termination of a “human pregnancy” to the “death of an unborn person.” While House lawmakers argued the bill would not impact IVF, the Senate did not bring forward the legislation over concerns about the language in light of Alabama Supreme Court case ruling that shut down the fertility treatment over similar “unborn child” language.

Justice and public safety

Age verification for viewing pornography: House File 2051 proposed holding commercial entities and social media platforms liable if their platforms did not implement an age verification method before being allowed access to obscene material.

Death penalty: Senate Study Bill 3085 would reinstate capital punishment in Iowa for first-degree murder cases where a person intentionally murders a police officer or prison employee. A second bill, Senate File 357, would have allowed the death penalty in cases where a minor is kidnapped, raped and murdered.

E-Verify: Employers spoke against Senate File 108 in subcommittee meetings, saying that the proposal requiring them to use the federal web-based E-Verify system to check if a job applicant is legally eligible to work in the country, saying that the system is unreliable. The bill would have also prohibited Iowa employers from knowingly hiring an “unauthorized alien employee,” and created a complaint process that could have brought employers in violation of the law to district court.

Expanding medical cannabis program: House Study Bill 532 would have expanded the state definition for “medical cannabidiol” to include forms of oral, topical and inhalable cannabis — including raw flower cannabis products.

Fentanyl-related deaths: House File 2576 proposed heightening the charges for people who unlawfully supply another person with fentanyl or fentanyl-related substances that leads to their death, making this crime a first-degree murder charge. The legislation would have applied to those who unknowingly shared a drug they did not know contained fentanyl with another person, if the drug use resulted in an overdose.

Hands-free driving: While a bill setting limits and regulations on traffic cameras was approved, Senate File 2337, a bill that would have combined these new rules for automated traffic enforcement systems with hands-free driving requirements, did not advance. While Senate lawmakers have repeatedly passed legislation to ban the use of cell phones and other handheld devices while driving in recent sessions, these proposals have yet to make it to the governor’s desk.

State and local government

Casino moratorium: In the early hours of Saturday morning before the session ended, the House sent back Senate File 2427, a bill primarily dealing with the Iowa Department of Revenue’s taxing of sports wagering and tobacco products, with a new addition: an extension on Iowa’s casino licensing moratorium. The Senate adjourned for the year without taking it up, meaning that the two-year moratorium passed in 2022 is set to expire as originally scheduled on June 30, 2024. 

Defining ‘sex,’ birth certificate markers: The governor proposed one of the most controversial bills this session related to transgender Iowans, House File 2389, sparking protests and demonstrations at the Capitol in February. The measure would have defined in Iowa code the categories of “male” and “female” based on a person’s biological reproductive system at birth, and would have allowed transgender people to be excluded from sex-segregated spaces like domestic abuse and sexual assault shelters, as well as bathrooms and locker rooms. The House Education Committee amended the bill’s original requirement to have transgender people’s sex at birth and sex designation after transitioning listed on driver’s licenses, only requiring this information be on a person’s birth certificate, but the legislation did not advance to the full House.

Election law: House File 2610 proposed multiple changes to Iowa’s election laws, including changes to Iowa’s early voting window. County election commissioners would have been required to mail absentee ballots no earlier than 22 days before an election, and ballots would have to be received by 5 p.m. the day before an election to be counted. The legislation also would have banned ballot drop boxes and ranked-choice voting.

Film tax rebates: House File 2662 proposed the creation of an Iowa film production incentive program and fund within the Iowa Economic Development Authority, offering 30% tax rebates for the gross amount of qualified expenditures to produce a movie to qualified production facilities in the state up to $10 million per fiscal year. To avoid the massive misuse of government funds that occurred in Iowa’s previous film tax rebate program, the legislation outlined details on what qualified facilities and expenditures would be eligible for the rebate, in addition to requiring examinations of qualified expenditures by a CPA to ensure the rebate would be in compliance with the state’s standards.

Homelessness: Lawmakers said Senate Study Bill 3175 was an effort to help address rising rates of unsheltered homeless populations in Iowa. The bill would have made a simple misdemeanor charge for unauthorized camping, sleeping or long-term shelter on public property a simple misdemeanor charge, with law enforcement first giving a warning and offering services or shelter.
The bill would have also required the Iowa Finance Authority provide state funds through grants to local governments to create parking lots, camping facilities and shelters for homeless populations in their communities.

Pay increase for elected officials: House File 2700 would raise legislators’ salary to $35,000 annually beginning in the 2025 legislative session. Pay would also increase for those in leadership positions, with the House speaker, Senate president, and majority and minority leaders in both chambers earning $47,500. Statewide elected officials, including the governor, attorney general, state auditor, secretary of state and treasurer would also get a $10,000 bump. This increase would raise the governor’s salary to $140,000 and attorney general to $133,669. All other statewide offices would see their salaries rise to $133,212 annually.

Private CPAs conducting state audits: Iowa Auditor Rob Sand, the only Democrat to hold statewide elected office in Iowa, said Senate File 2311 was a political attack against his office by Senate Republicans. The bill proposed allowing state agencies to employ a certified public accountant (CPA) to perform their required yearly audits, reviews that are currently conducted by the auditor’s office. GOP senators argued that the legislation still allowed for the auditor’s office to review the results of the audit, but Sand and Democrats said the measure could lead to unchecked public corruption – in addition to the audits coming at a higher cost to state taxpayers. House lawmakers in a subcommittee on the bill shared the concerns over cost, sending it back without recommendation.

Public libraries: Lawmakers discussed multiple bills related to public libraries early in the session, but none advanced. Senate Study Bill 3168 would have granted city councils oversight and discretion on hiring practices for library directors, in addition to having the ability to use some library tax money by ordinance without a referendum. Another bill, House Study Bill 678, would have also give city councils’ these powers in addition to the ability to overrule library boards on library policies and book selection without requiring a public vote.

Senate Study Bill 3131, a bill not scheduled for a subcommittee, would have removed the state law requirements for local governments to levy taxes for public libraries, in addition to giving city councils the ability to change the makeup and duties of local library boards.

Union recertification: Senate File 2374 proposed changes to the 2017 law on public employees’ collective bargaining rights on union recertification, requiring unions be recertified roughly 10 months before each two- to three-year negotiation period. 

Under current law, government employers must submit lists of their employees to the Iowa Public Employee Relations Board before recertification votes, when workers are asked if they want to continue with their union representation. If the list is not submitted, a vote is not held, and contracts are negotiated using the current union representation. 

The bill proposed decertifying public employee bargaining units if the government employer fails to provide lists to the PERB within 10 days of receiving written notice of intent to conduct a certification election – a measure unions and represented workers said would punish unions for the shortcomings of employers. Public sector union employees held protests and threatened further actions, like stopping off-hours work, if the bill passed – but it was not taken up by the full Senate.

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Iowa Citizen Action Network (ICAN) is a grassroots public interest organization committed to creating social change in Iowa and across the nation. ICAN has united Iowa’s progressives for 45 years, and is leading efforts to change the public climate for progressive change. ICAN works in coalition with  organizational affiliates from a wide range of constituencies, including religious, community, labor, senior, family farm and environmental organizations as well as with our thousands of individual members.
Strengthen social security don't cut it, Iowa citizen action network, iowacan.org
Civil justice and consumer protection, Iowa citizen action network, iowacan.org
Iowa Health Care Reform, Iowa Citizen Network, iowacan.org