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Sunday Talk: Stone on the Legislative Week

Week nine was full of subcommittees for bills that have been sent over from the Senate.  There is a push to get these bills through before the second funnel end date which is next Friday.  We held some floor debate on Monday and Thursday in which we passed a handful of noncontroversial bills.  On Wednesday evening, Governor Reynolds launched her re-election campaign in front of a packed audience at the state fairgrounds.  I am looking forward to working with her throughout her next term, and I’m excited to see what great ideas she will have for our state!  I have been receiving questions about the process a bill has to go through so I have included a link to an educational video down below…

The legislative process can be confusing for those not directly involved with the day-to-day activities in the Capitol. Knowing where a bill is in the process and what comes next is essential if you want to truly understand the Iowa Legislature. After nine weeks of session, many Iowans are wondering what comes next for policies they care about.

Representatives’ focus is beginning to shift from committee work to floor debate. During the subcommittee and committee process, amendments and changes are brought to light by subcommittee and committee members only and can be incorporated into the bill to make it better.  Floor debate is a chance for all 100 members to express their opinion on a bill, offer amendments, and vote. Just because a bill advanced out of committee, does not mean it is guaranteed a vote on the floor. Speaker of the House Pat Grassley along with Majority Leader Matt Windschitl meet with committee chairs and carefully evaluate each bill before advancing it for debate. Once a bill has been called to the floor, it is the responsibility of the subcommittee chair to advocate for the bill, answer questions, address any amendments and move the bill for a final vote.

While most bills pass out of the House of Representatives with bipartisan support, some become partisan. The more partisan a bill, the longer debate may take. Debate on a bill can last for two minutes or even two days depending upon how strongly legislators feel about the subject.

Once a bill passes on the House floor, it is sent to the Senate and begins the committee process all over again. The second funnel is the week of March 14th-18th. All bills that started in the House must be out of Senate committee by that time. The same goes for Senate bills moving through House committees.

After a bill has passed both the House and Senate in identical forms, it is sent to the Governor for her approval. Last year the Governor signed over 180 bills into law.

Even though the first major deadline has passed, there is still a lot of time for bills to advance through the process. The legislature is expected to adjourn for the session, sometime in late April. April 19th is the scheduled adjournment date, but it is not uncommon to end a few days before or after the 100-day deadline.

House Focuses on Cybersecurity

2021 set records new records for data breaches. By the end of September 2021, the number of breaches already exceeded the number of breaches in all of 2020. Industries typically targeted include manufacturing, utilities, healthcare, financial services, and government. These breaches impacted millions of people. Some of the major breaches from 2021 included Facebook, LinkedIn, Coinbase, Robinhood, T-Mobile, and Colonial Pipeline among others.

Iowans should be confident that their information is secure and proactive steps are being taken to secure their private information. All session, the Information Technology Committee has been learning and gathering information on cybersecurity risks. The IT Committee heard from cybersecurity experts and even a first-hand account of a major cyber-attack at DMACC.

Some of the proposals to arise from these conversations include the following bills:

HF 2302 – Encourages businesses to develop a cybersecurity program framework and keep it updated with the latest recommendations. If the business is not following a nationally recognized framework, the scale and scope of their program must be appropriate with the maximum probable loss calculated for the business. Businesses that have and keep their cybersecurity framework updated are eligible to use an affirmative defense if they are subject to a cybersecurity breach.

HF 2461 – Criminalizes the use of ransomware in cyber attacks and sets penalties for those who violate the law.

HF 2288 – Adds costs associated with protecting against a cybersecurity event to the essential county and corporate purpose definitions. This would allow cities and counties, under their current constitutional caps, to use bond revenue to protect against cyber threats.

All of these bills passed the House with bipartisan support.

It was great to be able to tour the all new John V. Hansen Career Center with Director Haag and Senator Guth. This collaboration between four school districts and North Iowa Area Community College has been a tremendous opportunity for students to get hands on training in the fields of Health, Manufacturing, Construction and Information Technology. This career center was the first and has attracted attention from around the state with plans for three more career centers to be built in the near future.
IRFA Urges Biden Administration to Unleash E15 to Lower Gas Prices

On Tuesday, March 8, 2022, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) issued a press release that
called on the Administration to take immediate action to increase consumer access to E15 and relieve high gas prices.

The first and most important step is for EPA to exercise its emergency powers to issue a volatility waiver to ensure E15 can be sold throughout the rest of 2022 in all parts of the country. EPA has approved volatility waivers in the wake of emergencies such as hurricanes. Without such a waiver, conventional gasoline areas, representing over 60% of all fuel sold, will find it difficult to sell lower-cost E15 from June 1 to September 15.
To ensure the long-term benefits of year-round E15, last year IRFA submitted comments to EPA and a letter to the President outlining the key steps that would dramatically increase consumer access and use of E15. These steps included:
•   Limiting the volatility of all fuel so that E15 can be sold year-round across the country on a permanent basis;
•   Confirming all E10 storage and dispensing equipment is compatible with E15 – making it possible for retailers across the country to immediately start offering a lower-cost fuel that is extremely similar to what they are already selling today; and
•   Finalizing the E15 labeling modification rule proposed by EPA, which would clear up consumer confusion about E15.

Legislature Helps Truckers by Expanding Access to CDL Testing

Commercial drivers play an essential role in delivering necessary supplies, driving school busses, and supporting our local communities. About 10 percent of all Iowa license holders have a CDL, but oftentimes have long wait times and difficulty accessing testing locations near their work.

This week, the Iowa House passed Senate File 2337 to expand testing sites. This bill adds public transit systems to the list of entities that are allowed to be 3rd party testers for CDL driving skills tests. This bill also adds knowledge tests and commercial learner’s permits to the list of options 3rd party entities are allowed to test for based on a recent federal policy change.

The legislature has also focused on this area last year by passing House File 828 to allow counties to provide driving skills tests for a fee, as well as House File 280 that allowed for CDLs to be renewed online every other renewal cycle.
House Republicans are committed to helping the supply chain throughout this workforce crisis for commercial drivers.

 

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