Government

Kim Reynolds completes action on 2018 legislation

Governor uses veto pen on four bills

01: Gov. Kim Reynolds signs House File 2377, a comprehensive bill that addresses opioid abuse in Iowa, into law at the Mercy Medical Center in Dubuque on Monday, May 14, 2018. (Photo by Michaela Ramm/The Gazette)
01: Gov. Kim Reynolds signs House File 2377, a comprehensive bill that addresses opioid abuse in Iowa, into law at the Mercy Medical Center in Dubuque on Monday, May 14, 2018. (Photo by Michaela Ramm/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a dozen bills Friday, completing action on the work produced by the 2018 Iowa legislative session.

She vetoed one bill dealing with insurance companies and line-item vetoed parts of three others.

One dealt with a new way of offering non-insurance health care coverage. Another would have ended a justice system pilot program, and a third canceled a proposed partnership between the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and a supplier.

Reynolds signed bills funding various state agencies including Agriculture and Natural Resources, Transportation and economic development agencies.

The bills fund the $7.480 billion appropriated by lawmakers for the state general fund, according to the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency. That’s a 3.1 percent increase over the current year spending, but $65 million less than the expenditure limit.

It leaves a June 30 ending balance — surplus — of $37 million with reserve funds of $737 million. The budget estimate a fiscal 2019 ending balance of $166 million with $762 million in reserve accounts.

Reynolds vetoed Senate File 2316 because she believed it would “further destabilize Iowa health insurance market. The bill would have allowed Iowa insurance companies to divide into two or more resulting companies.

Although supportive of the underlying legislation, Reynolds objected to language that would have allowed self-employed people with no employees to qualify for small group health insurance coverage.

She also believed the bill would have conflicted with federal law.

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Reynolds also line-item vetoed House File 2492 that would have ended a Public Safety Assessment pilot program that is designed to give judges with an objective, data-driven approach to use in pretrial proceedings.

“I disapprove of these sections because I believe that we should consider and study ways to create a fairer pretrial system that protects the public,” Reynolds said.

However, she recognized lawmakers and others have questions about whether the program considers all the appropriate factors. So she instructed the agencies of the executive branch to continue their participation in this pilot program until Dec. 31.

Use of the assessment will be suspended until the data from the pilot can be analyzed.

If the analysis shows the assessment is useful, new legislation should be considered, Reynolds wrote.

She also vetoed a portion of House File 2502 dealing with Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements, an alternative to traditional health insurance plans. Her objection was to MEWAs being formed as 501(c)(9) entities.

“There are other viable tax structure alternatives, and I believe this requirement is overly prescriptive and would have a limiting effect” for employers interested in them as an additional option for health coverage.

She also vetoed a section repealing the ability of the insurance commissioner to adopt emergency rules.

Finally, she vetoed a portion of Senate File 2418 that dealt with health and human services appropriations. Specifically, Reynolds vetoed $195,000 related to a proposal relating to a partnership between the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and a durable medical equipment provider.

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“There is nothing in current law that would prevent a durable medical equipment vendor from independently responding to a request for proposal and/or providing durable medical equipment products and services,” Reynolds wrote. “The request for proposal process should be applied fairly and competitively to all providers.”

The $195,000 will revert to the general fund.

For more on the bills signed by the governor, visit thegaz.co/2H99FxH.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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