We just completed the thirteenth week of the legislative session scheduled to end April 19. There were many small issues addressed this week that affect Iowans. Some policies we worked on ranged from dealing with troublesome bars, to enabling electronic insurance policy notices, and to giving guidelines regarding language and literacy for deaf children.
As we near the end of session, we spend the most time finalizing budgets. All 150 legislators have issues important to them for which they desire funding. While we agree on 90% of those things, the last 10% takes the most work and compromise. This is especially true as we seek to make the large tax cuts we made earlier this year sustainable into the future.
During week 12, the Senate passed a bill that included the Student First Scholarship program. The Wall Street Journal praised this legislation saying:
“Reluctant Republicans in the state House can pass all the curriculum bills they want, but as public attention fades the bureaucracy will reassert control if parents have no alternative for their children. Private and public school choice (charters) is crucial for reasserting high standards and preventing ideological indoctrination that parents dislike.
Iowa’s Kim Reynolds, who has been driving the choice effort, is turning out to be a notable reform Governor. She signed a major tax cut last month, and passing the Senate bill would be an excellent way to finish this productive legislative session.”
One bill we passed in the Senate this week was SF 2381 which would create a program called More Options for Maternal Support (MOMS). This is a statewide program promoting healthy pregnancies and childbirth while giving personalized support to pregnant women. MOMS would provide nutritional services, housing assistance, and adoption education. Other services provided would be childcare assistance, parenting education and support, health tests and counseling to women facing an unplanned pregnancy. One of the biggest provisions in this program is extending postpartum coverage for women under Medicaid from 60 days to 12 months. It was notable that two Democrats joined the Republicans in passing this bill.
While most committees finished their work this week, many senators are still working hard to put the final touches on things they have been working on all session, perhaps all year. I continue working on Religious Freedom and Church protection, medical freedoms/banning vaccine passports, and limiting eminent domain to public use projects. While I am not sure if we can pass a limit on eminent domain for non-public use projects, I have been assured by the Iowa Utilities Board that hearings to approve permits for any of these pipelines will not occur before February 2023. Soon we will know how much of our work will succeed.