The Legislative Process: Iowa Legislature at Halfway Point

Last Friday, March 8, marked the legislature’s self-imposed deadline known as the first “funnel” day. It’s a time when the legislature funnels their workload as they lead into the last half of the Legislative session. This means if a policy bill did not pass out of Senate or House committee, it is no longer eligible for debate by lawmakers this session. This deadline does not apply to bills relating to appropriations and budgets, taxes and government oversight.

 

(UNI Day at the Capitol, February 18, 2019, photo and this caption)

 

Policy bills of interest to UNI that survived the first funnel include:

  • Require the Iowa Department of Education to determine the passing score for the end of teacher preparation program exam (HF 513/SF 159)

  • Medical amnesty for alcohol cases (HF 684/SF 342)

  • Legalized sports wagering and fantasy sports betting through Iowa casinos and mobile phones (HF 648/SF 366)

  • Free speech on campus (HF 661/SF274)

 

Some policy bills that did not pass out of a committee include prohibiting the establishment or continuation of a tenure system at the Regents universities and repealing statewide registration requirements for interior designers.

The legislature’s second “funnel” deadline is April 5. For a policy bill to remain eligible after this day, Senate bills must pass out of a House committee and House bills must pass out of a Senate committee.

 

Budget Process

The start of the appropriations and budgeting process has begun. Coming up on March 15, the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) has its next meeting. This three-person committee meets quarterly and determines how much revenue will be available for next year’s fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2019, and goes to June 30, 2020.

 

Iowa law limits the governor and the legislature to spending no more than 99% of the REC estimate. The REC meets in December and March to produce revenue projections. Whichever estimate, March or December is lower, is the estimate that will be used. Budget subcommittee chairs are currently working behind the scenes crafting next year’s budget bills for state agencies, including UNI.

 

We Need Your Help

Please continue to advocate for UNI by contacting your legislators. Share with them the importance of fully funding UNI. You can find your local state senator and state representative here https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find. Weekly legislative updates important to UNI are posted here  https://govrel.uni.edu/2019-legislative-update

 

Thank you for all your support of UNI!