Travel Federation of Iowa
2019 Legislative Update | Issue #2 | February 10, 2019
Thank you to those of you that joined us at this year’s #ThisIsIowa Legislative Showcase this past week. The weather was cold and bleak, but the inside of the Elwell Family Food Center was warm and inviting.

The weather and number of other legislative events limited our legislator attendees to 21 Senators and 35 Representatives. However, TFI lobbyists spoke with a number of legislators the next day that were unable to attend. The event remains one of the best attended and widely talked about legislative receptions in Iowa.

Stay tuned for details about 2020's legislative event!
While DC struggles to figure out how to keep the federal government open, the State Legislature in Iowa has kicked into high gear. Neither rain, nor snow can keep the Legislature right now from working. I use that term because the Legislature continued with a full day of committee and subcommittee meetings on January 30 even while the US Post Office had a take a day off from Iowa deliveries due to the weather. 
We now have four full weeks under our belts and Monday, February 11, will mark Session Day 29 of the 110-day legislative session. That leaves about one month until the First Funnel, a deadline by which any policy bills need to have been approved by the committee to which they were assigned in order to stay alive. 
The funnel week is typically preceded by about 10-12 intense days filled with subcommittee and committee meetings. However, insiders will tell you that the pace of this past week felt a lot more like the week before funnel week than the fourth week of session. Case in point, there were a total of 117 subcommittee meetings on bills this past week. For many lobbyists, you had instances where 4-6 of them might be scheduled for the same time, so you had to figure out a way to make sure your voice was heard on all of them. This means running from one to another and doing as much preparation ahead of time with legislators on subcommittees as is possible. 
While all this is going on, bills are being introduced at a maddening pace and you can not afford to take your eye off all the legislative proposals that are coming in, no matter how busy you are. As of Friday, 868 bills had been introduced in the 88 th General Assembly, 381 by the Iowa Senate and 487 by the Iowa House. Since the first funnel is still four weeks away, we have no reason to believe that we are nearing the end of the bill introductions for this year.
In the midst of all this buzz, a number of groups make their way into the Capitol to lobby, educate, congregate, pray, and sometimes perform. On Wednesday morning, some lucky members of the Iowa House were able to enjoy some great music from the Tony Award-winning Best Musical,  Dear Evan Hansen , which is just finishing its tour in Des Moines. One of the cast members, Stephen Christopher Anthony, was joined by students from Waukee's Jazz Choir for a performance that even sounded good to those of us that were stuck in a full slate of subcommittee meetings in the House Lounge.
This Week
The fast pace of subcommittee and committee meetings is expected to continue this week, but the Chambers will start to plug in some debate as well. The House is expected to take up school funding Monday night. The Legislature is required to complete school funding within 30 days, to the Senate will likely take up the House’s bill shortly thereafter and send it to the Governor. 
Both the House and the Senate appear settled on providing a 2.06% increase to schools. This equates to about $89.3 million in new funds in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, with $78.6 million going into supplemental state aid, $2.9 million going into state per pupil funds, and $7.8 million being allocated toward offsetting transportation inequities to school districts.
Other issues beginning to suck up a lot of oxygen in the Capitol, as of last week, include whether or not (and how) to add sports betting, whether to change the method by which judges are selected in Iowa, and whether to amend the Iowa Constitution to address abortion rights, gun rights, term limits and Gubernatorial succession.
Sports Betting
The Senate and House each had a two+ hour subcommittee meeting this past week to discuss sports betting. Representatives from Iowa’s casinos, the Iowa Lottery, the horse-racing industries and some pro sports leagues were there to make their case for how they can best manage sports betting in Iowa. 
There are a number of bills on the topic from various viewpoints, and legislators have many issues to sort through as they move forward on this issue. Casinos come to the table as having a long, successful record, having been highly regulated already with a taxing structure that supports numerous non-gaming activities (like community foundations and tourism marketing, to name a few). Iowa’s lottery system is also very good at what they do and is available at almost any retail outlet in Iowa. The horse-racing industry, while having only one location in Iowa, argued they have been successfully managing sports betting for longer than anyone. Finally, the pro sports leagues are pitching their resumes of success from what they have accomplished nationally. 
Craig Patterson, lobbyist for TFI, testified at the subcommittee about the workforce shortage. He reminded the subcommittee members about when they expanded gaming a dozen years ago and elected to also create programs like regional tourism marketing and community foundation funds that would be funded with those new gaming dollars. Patterson urged the committee, regardless of which path forward they take, to carve out some of the new tax dollars generated and put them toward programs such as recreational trails and Enhance Iowa. With workforce being the single biggest hurdle to economic development and job creation in Iowa, it would be a shame to pass up an opportunity to devote new dollars to raising the quality of life and creating more livable communities.
School Start Date
Thank you to those of you that have been working hard to let your legislators know you want them to leave the school start date alone (or move it back to after Labor Day). While the School Administrators are still working hard on this issue, we are hearing from legislators that they are not inclined to change it, at least at this point.

That said though, all four school start date bills out there are alive until the first funnel on March 8th. If you haven’t yet called your legislators yet, PLEASE do so and get a handful of like-minded parents from your area to do the same!
Remind your legislators that August 23rd was a COMPROMISE that was agreed to only a few short years ago. While most of the tourism industry wanted to see a post-Labor Day start date, the industry COMPROMISED with the school lobbyists by agreeing to the 23rd. The bills they are talking about, that would allow school to start on the Monday after the State Fair, would allow the new start date to be as early as the 18th, in some cases. That's a five day swing!
A couple of points to remember:
1.) No data exists that shows that students have higher achievement by starting earlier. Conversely, we know that the days the tourism industry loses in August COST the state revenues that they could be using for education.
2.) The other side makes the case that earlier start dates better align with college schedules. However, the current law actually give colleges greater predictability statewide. Prior to the law passing, school starts in Iowa ranged in some cases from the 1st week of August to after Labor Day.
3.) The other side makes the case that they are unable to complete their fall term prior to Christmas break. However, there are numerous school calendars out there that disprove that argument. A couple examples exist HERE and HERE .
4.) Summer vacations are important to many families. In most cases, you only have 18 summers with your kids before they finish school and start their own lives. How many summers do you have left with your kids?
You can find your legislator by putting your home address into the site HERE . Feel free to contact more legislators than just the ones that represent you; Senate emails can all be found HERE and House emails can all be found HERE .
Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham presented to the Joint Senate/House Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee on January 29th to share a summary of the Department’s activities. A copy of her presentation can be found HERE .
TFI Bills of Interest - Link
HF114 Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund Summary | Details House Natural Resources Committee
Increases the sales and use tax rates and places conditions on the use of funds from the natural resources and outdoor recreation trust fund.

Allows a person who is at least nine years old to purchase a license with an apprentice hunter designation. 

Allows a person 20 years of age or younger to hunt using a pistol or revolver under certain conditions.

Changes definition of beverages eligible for refund and increases the handling fee charged a distributor.

Prohibits schools from beginning the school year before to the Monday following the last day of the state fair.

Creates an income tax exemption for money paid to child and dependent care providers.

HF258 Religious Freedom Restoration Act Summary | Details House Judiciary Committee
Provides that a person whose exercise of religion has been burdened by state action may assert such violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding.

HF287 Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact Summary | Details House Transportation Committee
Enters Iowa into the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact.

HF303 Welcome Center Program Summary | Details House Floor
Update Iowa Code sections referring to the statewide welcome center program.

HF305 Enhance Iowa Board Summary | Details House Floor
Increases the term of voting members, shifts responsibility for adopting program rules, and eliminates requirement to allocate funds to market community attraction and tourism fund projects.

Allows the use of a crossbow by youth for deer hunting.

HF57 Bicycle Lights and Reflective Clothing Summary | Details House Transportation Committee
Modifies requirements for bicyclists to use lights and reflective clothing.

Extends REAP by removing end date.

Changes the earliest school start date from August 23 to a day following the closing day of the annual Iowa state fair.

Eliminates a requirement that a resident snowmobile operator must obtain a user permit and raises annual snowmobile registration fee.

Extends the SAVE fund to January 1, 2051.

Allows native wine manufacturers to sell wine for on-premise consumption.

HSB59 Low-Proof Spirit Beverages Summary | Details House Floor
Allows beer permit holders to sell low-proof spirit drinks in certain circumstances.

Establishes penalty for trespassing while hunting, fishing, or trapping.

Authorizes DNR to establish in-lieu fee programs for the payment of a fee by a permit holder in lieu of performing mitigation.

HSB81 DNR Administrative Procedures Summary | Details House Natural Resources Committee
Creates a 60-day period during which an order by DNR may be appealed and allows for certain permit exemptions and waivers. 

Repeals the Honey Creek premier destination park bond program.

HSB91 Community Catalyst Building Remediation Grants Summary | Details House Economic Growth Committee
Allows for emergency projects under the community catalyst building remediation program. 

Increases requirements of a person sponsoring certain events to ensure sales tax is collected by vendors.

SF119 Museum Loans and Gifts Summary | Details Senate Judiciary Committee
Requires documentation of loans and gifts to museums.

Changes the date on which school districts and nonpublic schools can begin the school year.

Prohibits schools from beginning the school year prior to the Monday following the last day of the state fair or August 23, whichever is earlier.

SF131 Hotel/Motel Tax Exemption Summary | Details Senate Ways & Means Committee
Exempts local hotel/motel tax beginning after 90 consecutive days of lodging.

Establishes a pilot program to collect fees from nonresidents at Lake Manawa state park.

Creates a tree and forest advisory council.

Requires drivers to pass bicycles safely and bicyclists to have lights and reflective clothing.

SF201 State Boards and Commissions Summary | Details Senate State Government Committee
Establishes requirements for appointive boards, commissions, committees, and councils to conduct comprehensive reviews over each five-year period, beginning July 1, 2019. 

SF202 Youth Deer and Wild Turkey Hunting Licenses Summary | Details Senate Floor
Prohibits DNR from establishing a cost for a youth deer or youth wild turkey hunting license that is higher than 50 percent of a resident hunting license.

SF203 Private Fishing Summary | Details Senate Floor
Allows a person to fish on a private lake or pond without a license. 

Requires the state board of education to repeal or amend a rule if a school district submits a petition to do so and the department of education finds no authority to support the rule.

Repeals the exemption for forest reservations for assessment years beginning on or after January 1, 2020.

Requires every bicycle or bicycle rider to have a front and rear lighted lamp during certain times and weather conditions.

Requires certain DNR licenses to include organ donor designation.

SJR2 Constitutional Spending Limits Summary | Details Senate Appropriations Committee
Proposes a constitutional amendment establishing a limit on state spending.

Prohibits the natural resource commission from stocking private lake or pond.

SSB1021 Beer and Spirits Manufacturers Summary | Details Senate Floor
Makes changes regarding authority of manufacturers of beer and manufacturers of native distilled spirits.

Establishes penalty for trespassing while hunting, fishing, or trapping.

Changes definition of "lottery" to authorize sports betting and expands methods by which retailers may accept payment for lottery tickets.

Authorizes gambling licensees to conduct sports betting.

Legalizes betting on sports events and fantasy sport contests.

Authorizes the Iowa horsemen's benevolent and protective association to conduct sports betting.

Allows an individual and corporate income tax deduction for Iowa brewing ingredients.

Limits the ability of cities and counties to regulate professions and occupations.

Makes changes affecting DNR administrative procedures.

Authorizes DNR to establish in-lieu fee programs for the payment of a fee in lieu of performing mitigation.

Modifies provisions relating to the registration and titling of vessels, snowmobiles, and all-terrain vehicles.
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