Travel Federation of Iowa
2019 Legislative Update | Issue #1 | January 27, 2019
Join us at this year’s #ThisIsIowa Legislative Showcase held on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 from 5:00 pm – 7:30 pm at the Iowa State Fairgrounds (Elwell Family Food Center). 

Share with legislators the impact tourism makes on the State of Iowa. Learn more about the 2019 Travel Federation of Iowa Legislative Priorities.

For more event details and to register for the event, click HERE!!
Welcome to the first issue of the 2019 Legislative Session. The session gaveled in on Monday, January 14th, and is scheduled to last 110 days with per diems expiring on Friday, May 3rd. As you recall from previous years, the May 3rd date doesn’t mean they’re done, but it often signals the end is near. 
This 2019 session of the 88th General Assembly features 31 new legislators, 22 in the House and 9 in the Senate. In the Senate, Republicans increased their margin to 32-18 (from 29-20), and in the House, Republicans’ margin dropped to 54-46 (from 59-41). 
Women Legislators
Thirty percent (45 out of 150) of this year’s legislators are women, including over one-third (34) of the House and over one-fifth (11) of the Senate. Additionally, for the first time in history, a majority of one of the caucuses, the House Democrats, are women legislators (24 out of 46).
Governor Kim Reynolds
In addition to the record number of women in the Legislature, Iowa voters elected a woman Governor for the first time in history. Gov. Reynolds was sworn in as Iowa’s 43rd and first elected female governor on Friday, January 18th. 
On the second day of the legislative session, Governor Reynolds delivered her Condition of the State address along with her proposed budget for the Legislature to consider. The Governor’s budget always represents the first shot across the bow in assembling the upcoming fiscal year’s budget. As the session wears on, the Legislature will use the Governor’s budget, their own priorities, and a March budget estimate from the Revenue Estimating Conference to piece together their appropriations bills for the upcoming year. 
Some highlights of the Governor’s speech and budget proposal include:
·          The Governor’s budget proposes spending $7.6585 billion from the General Fund in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, an increase of 0.51 percent over her revised FY 2019 budget. This represents 97.36 percent of available revenue, a comfortable margin under the 99% expenditure limitation. 
·          An increase of 2.3% ($93.4 million) to K-12 schools.  The legislature is required to establish school funding increases within 30 days of the delivery of the Governor’s budget.
·          An increase of $18 million to the Regents universities - $7 million each to the University of Iowa and Iowa State University and $4 million to the University of Northern Iowa. An increase of $4.7 million for community colleges and $1.1 million to the Iowa Tuition Grant program.
·          Future Ready Iowa – The Governor proposes providing $17.2 million to the College Student Aid Commission to fund the Last Dollar Scholarship program.
·          Mental Health – The Governor commits $6 million to increase the number of regional access centers and for more mobile treatment teams. The budget also contains $3 million to help train teachers to detect students’ mental health issues, along with resources to expand psychiatric residencies and training for physician assistants and nurse practitioners specializing in mental health care.
·          Backfill - The Governor’s budget fully funds the property tax backfill that reimburses local governments for losses that occurred due to the property tax reform bill.
·          Broadband – The Governor’s budget calls for $10 million in FY 2020 and again in FY 2021 to expand broadband access across Iowa.
·          FY 2019 adjustments – The Governor’s budget increases FY 2019 by about $144.5 million, with the vast majority of that ($141.1 million) being directed toward Medicaid. 
·          Felon Voting Rights – The Governor announced in her speech that she would introduce and support a proposed amendment to Iowa's Constitution that would restore felons’ voting rights upon completion of their sentence, including any probation or parole.
·          Rural Workforce Housing Tax Credit – The Governor proposed doubling this allocation to $10 million per year.

Below is a chart that breaks down the major budget functions within the Governor’s proposed FY 2020 budget:
A chart that breaks down the major budget functions within the Governor's proposed FY 2020 budget
School Start Date
Thank you to those of you that responded to our call to action Thursday on School Start Date. If you haven’t yet, PLEASE weigh in with your legislators!
As we said, there is a House bill ( HF 78 ) and we know a bill is gaining sponsors in the Senate. The House bill would weaken the school start date law by allowing schools to move up their start dates to the Monday following the Iowa State Fair. Such a change could allow the start date in some years to be as early as the 18th, a full 5 days earlier than the current law allows!
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, even though NO DATA exists that says earlier start dates lead to better student performance.
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 .
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 .
Key Dates
As the Legislature marches forward, here are a few key dates to keep in mind:
·          March 8 – The first funnel deadline when bills must be passed out of a committee in one chamber to stay alive for the year. (Tax and spending bills are exempt).
·          April 5 – The second funnel deadline when bills must be passed out of committee in the opposite chamber in order to stay alive.
·          May 3 – Per diems expire, the 110th (and last) official day of the year. While the Legislature often works past this date (sometimes by weeks!), they typically adjourn for the year within a few days of this date.
Lots of bills
You may often hear lobbyists talk about the large number of bills that get introduced. As of Friday, January 25th, just the 12th day of the session, there have been a total of 378 bills introduced, 166 in the Senate and 212 in the House. With many, many more on the way…
House District 55
The House is also expected to vote to dismiss Democratic candidate Kayla Koether’s request to open 29 ballots in the House District 55 race. Incumbent Rep. Michael Bergen won the race by nine votes but 29 ballots from Winneshiek County were disputed because they were determined to have been mailed on time but did not arrive prior to Election Day.
A special House election contest committee was assigned to determine if the ballots should be opened and counted. After two meetings, one which included argument from both sides’ attorneys, the Republicans on the committee determined that there was no legal authority to open and count the ballots. The ballots won’t necessarily change the results of the race or alter the Republican majority in the House, but Democrats feel not at least opening the ballots denies the right of Iowans to vote.
Property Tax Reform
At this early point in the session, little is known about the big priorities that will be addressed this year. However, the majority caucus in both chambers have both mentioned a desire to make changes to property taxes. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Whitver devoted his weekly newsletter this week to making the case that they delve into the topic. As we have seen over the last few decades though, property tax reform is easier said than done.
Constitutional Amendments
The Legislature and Governor seem to be talking this year about a large number of constitutional amendments they plan to discuss, compared to the typical year. A constitutional amendment must be agreed to by two successive General Assemblies (note, there are two years in each General Assembly), and ratified by a majority of voters in an election designated by the Legislature. Here are a few of the amendments they are currently discussing:
·          Right to Bear Arms – This one actually passed last year, but due to a mistake at the Secretary of State’s office, needs to start over again this year. It would add a “right to bear arms” to Iowa’s Constitution.
·          Gubernatorial Succession – When Governor Branstad left office, a lot was learned about Iowa’s succession rules. The Attorney General declared that Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds was the “Lt. Governor serving as the Governor”, which prevented her from officially appointing a new Lt. Governor that would become second in the line of succession. The Legislature is now looking to change that for future instances.
·          Marsy’s Law – The Legislature is again expected to consider legislation to amend the State’s constitution with regard to victim’s rights. This is part of national movement and fell short last year due to the fact that Iowa’s current laws are among the best with regard to protecting victims.
·          Felon Voting Rights – Iowa is one of only two states that require felons to petition the Governor for the restoration of their voting rights after their sentence has been completed. The Governor made clear during her Condition of the State speech that she believes this power should not be held by one person and that the Iowa Constitution should be changed to reflect that.
·          Abortion – The action taken by courts in Iowa to strike down last year’s strict abortion bill has some pro-life advocates in the Capitol talking about amending the State’s Constitution to place restrictions on abortions.
·          Term Limits – There are already multiple bills that would amend the Constitution to limit the terms of the Governor and state legislators.
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 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.

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 State Government Committee
Allows beer permit holders to sell low-proof spirit drinks in certain circumstances.

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.

Establishes a statewide welcome center program.

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

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

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.

Allows a person to fish on a private lake or pond without a license. 

SF47 Youth Deer and Wild Turkey Hunting Licenses Summary | Details Senate Natural Resources & Environment Committee
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.

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.

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 Commerce Committee
Makes changes regarding authority of manufacturers of beer and manufacturers of native distilled spirits.
Your Bill Tracker
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Town Halls & Public Forums
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