Here is what we have found regarding the bills we have been watching (some of these may have changed as things are moving quickly).
Transparency Bill requires teachers to post course materials online. House File 2577 would require public school teachers to post their lesson plans and materials online for parents to review. The House passed a new version of the bill that allows teachers to update class materials on an ongoing basis to online services like Google Classroom or Canvas. Schools that fail to upload educational materials would be subject to a civil penalty of up to $5,000. The House and Senate have not reached an agreement on bill language as yet.
Voucher Bill: Iowa students could use state funds to pay private school tuition under a bill passed Wednesday by the Iowa Senate. Senate File 2369 is an amended version of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ education proposal. It would allow some public school students to use some of their per-pupil state funding allocation toward tuition or other educational expenses at a private school. Students who have an individualized education plan (IEP), or families who make under 400% of the federal poverty line would be eligible to use public funds to transfer to a private school. Nonpublic schools have the same requirements for teacher licensure, but that the transparency requirements were not needed as parents already had more control of private schools. The Senate passed the full bill by a vote of 31-18. The newly amended governor’s bill faces an uncertain future in the House, where lawmakers moved a different bill on school transparency, without scholarships, on Tuesday night. The House has taken little action on the private school scholarships this year.
Unemployment: Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate approved a measure on March 23 that would reduce the maximum length of unemployment insurance payments from 26 weeks to 16 weeks. The state House passed HF 2355, and the Senate approved an amended version the same day. The Senate’s version added a one-week waiting period for claimants collecting unemployment insurance benefits. The House has to pass the Senate’s version before the bill heads to Governor Kim Reynolds. Reynolds has expressed that she would sign legislation to cut back unemployment insurance benefits.
Liability: Thanks to a bipartisan group of 50 legislators, a legislative sleight-of-hand failed that would have capped the value of human life after a catastrophic truck crash and other fatal injury cases. However, immediately after the trucking lobby’s recent defeat in the House, they and their legislative allies vowed to find some other way around it.
Education Budget: House passes budget with extra school staff bonuses, no additional Regents money. The proposed budget, House File 2575, appropriates money for the Department of Education, the Board of Regents, workforce training programs and various scholarships through the College Student Aid Commission. The overall education budget proposal passed in a bipartisan vote, 58-36. Two Democrats voted in favor, and two Republicans voted against. The bill moves to the Senate for consideration.
EMINENT DOMAIN: Carbon pipeline developers would be blocked from seeking or using eminent domain to secure land for their projects until March 1, 2023, and the Iowa Utilities Board would be prevented from granting any requests to use eminent domain before that time. House lawmakers attached the proposal to an unrelated bill. SF 2022
CHILD CARE WORKERS, RATIOS: Another proposal would allow people 16 years or older who work at a child care facility without supervision. Currently, staff under 18 must have adult supervision. The Senate Human Resources Committee has also recommended an amendment that would also raise the maximum child-to-staff ratios at child care centers for 2- and 3-year-olds. For 2-year-olds, child care centers could have had seven children per staff member, up from six. For 3-year-olds, child care centers could have had 10 children per staff member, up from eight. House File 2198.
PUBLIC ASSISTANCE: Iowans would have to cooperate with the state’s child support recovery unit to qualify for food assistance under a series of proposed welfare changes in the House. The proposal is a more limited version of the efforts the Senate has attempted for years to increase eligibility checks in the state’s welfare programs. House File 2438.
Bottle Bill: Retailers would be allowed to opt out of accepting bottle and can returns starting in 2023, redemption centers would get a raise and beverage wholesalers would continue to keep unredeemed deposits under a bill approved Tuesday by the Iowa Senate. One of the main points of disagreement between the two sides is whether the increased handling fee will be enough to encourage new or expanded redemption centers to open. If retailers opt out of the program, more redemption centers will be needed so consumers can return their containers and collect their 5-cent deposit. The bill increases the handling fee for redemption centers from 1 cent to 3 cents per container. Retailers that continue to accept containers will continue to receive a penny per container. A previous version of the bill would allow grocers and other retailers to opt out of accepting containers only if a redemption center was located within 20 miles. The Senate bill eliminates any requirement for a nearby redemption center before retailers can opt out. The bill passed with a vote of 31-18. It moves to the House, which is considering a separate bill that allows some retailers – grocers and some others – to opt out of accepting container returns.
Our elected lawmakers are in office to represent us… here’s how to stay in touch:
Find your Legislator at: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find
Or Call: Senate Switchboard: 515-281-3371 // House Switchboard: 515-281-3221
Governor’s Office: 515-281-5211