116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — The clock once again is ticking for state lawmakers.
At the end of this week looms another legislative deadline: the second “funnel” deadline of this year’s session. By the end of the week, in order to remain eligible for consideration moving forward, any bill must have passed one chamber — either the Iowa House or Iowa Senate — and a committee in the opposite chamber.
So lawmakers — particularly Republicans in the agenda-setting majorities — this week will be prioritizing work on bills that have not yet reached that benchmark. The deadline does not apply to tax policy or spending bills.
“We’ve passed well over 150 bills (out of) the House, and clearly there are more things that we want to continue to move through the process,” said House Speaker Pat Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford. “But we’ve taken a lot of action on this side, and we’ll sit down and assess what those final bills are that we want to get out of here.”
While majority Republicans already have crossed some big bills off their to-do lists — including a $1.9 billion package of state income tax cuts and a bill banning transgender girls from competing in girls sports — some big-ticket items remain.
Among the bills that need at least some movement to survive this week’s deadline are Republicans’ attempts to address what they consider transparency in public school curriculum. There are multiple proposals that go to varied lengths — from one that would require schools to post all books and curriculum online to another that would jail teachers and educators who distribute materials that a parent may deem to be obscene. None of the proposals has yet met the benchmark for this week’s deadline.
Another bill facing the funnel is a House bill that combines multiple topics. House File 2279 started as a bill addressing tort reform and unemployment insurance requirements. Some House Republicans have since sought to also attach language that would ban vaccine requirements. A separate bill supported by some House Republicans would ban all businesses, schools and government agencies from requiring any vaccine for employees and prohibit them from requiring face coverings.
“There are a lot of subject matters in that bill, obviously,” Grassley said. “So we’re just working through what those would look like. But I feel very strongly that’s something that the House needs to pursue.”
Zach Wahls, the Democratic Senate minority leader from Coralville, called the bill a “Frankenstein” because of the many elements that have been added to it, each of which his party opposes.
Also facing the deadline are proposals to ban automated traffic enforcement cameras including ones in Cedar Rapids, and to ban all hand-held use of mobile devices while driving.
So, too, under the funnel gun is a recent proposal to remove dozens of state agency and commission posts from needing Senate confirmation of the governor’s appointments.
One bill that appears certain to miss this second deadline is an insurance appraisal bill that earlier cleared the House with a unanimous, 97-0 vote without floor debate. But it’s likely dead for the session, according to Sen. Zack Nunn, a Republican from Bondurant who was assigned the bill.
House File 2299 would restrict the appraisal process, stating that appraisers shall not settle disputes between insurance companies and individuals about how damage occurred. Instead, the appraisers could determine only the cash value of a loss and the insurance company would determine the cause. The homeowner would have to go to court if they dispute that decision.
The March 5 round of tornadoes, which killed seven people, in Iowa likely changed some minds, Nunn said.
A lobbyist familiar with the bill said some people may have thought the bill dealt only with fire insurance claims because of the wording “fire and other perils.” That wording in Iowa Code, however, is the baseline for every homeowner property casualty insurance policy.
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