Capitol Update

May 5, 2023 | Week 17

Week Seventeen Update

Adjourned Sine Die

The legislature has officially adjourned "sine die" (without another day) for the 2023 session. This same group of legislators will be back for the 2024 session (the second half of the 90th General Assembly). After that, Representatives will be up for reelection and Senators will serve 2 more years in their term.

A few group photos from the week. It is a privilege to work with these folks!

This last week of session has been full of debate along with many discussions about the budget, the interim, and what should be prioritized next session. As we wrap up the work here in Des Moines, there will still be lots of work to do over the interim. I welcome your feedback, comments, and questions as I prepare for next session, which will begin in early January 2024.

Carbon Pipeline Public Forum

Federal regulators want to hear from residents in Iowa regarding the proposed carbon capture pipeline. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (Division of the DOT) says it will hold public meetings on May 31 and June 1st in Des Moines. They plan to strengthen oversight of carbon pipeline safety following an investigation into a pipeline rupture near Satartia, Mississippi.

If you plan to attend, please let me know!

Registration information can be found at this link.

More information on the public meeting and background here.

Secretary Naig Announces Water Quality Funding

 Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will partner in 16 urban water quality projects across the state by investing nearly $2.8 million. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, utilizing the state’s Water Quality Initiative (WQI) and funding from the Conservation Infrastructure Program (CIP), will provide cost-share grants that cover up to 50 percent of the total cost of each project. The overall cost of the 16 projects is expected to be approximately $14.6 million, which includes $2.8 million from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and $11.8 million from local sources.

“Whether you live in an urban, suburban or rural area, all Iowans have an important role in protecting and improving our state’s water quality,” said Secretary Naig. “As we accelerate our statewide water quality efforts and work collaboratively with local partners, these urban cost-share grants help to leverage significant water quality investment by communities of all sizes.”


The Department provides financial and technical assistance to the communities and organizations implementing these urban water quality practices. To receive state funding, the urban water quality projects must include education and outreach components and involve local partners. These community-based projects raise awareness about new stormwater management methods and encourage others to adopt similar infrastructure-based practices to improve water quality. These urban conservation projects include water quality practices like bioretention cells, bioswales, native plantings, permeable pavers, rain gardens, soil quality restoration, and wetlands among many other proven practices.


Today’s grant announcement coincides with Soil and Water Conservation Week, which Governor Kim Reynolds has proclaimed will be recognized from April 30 through May 7 in Iowa.

Oskaloosa is home to one of these upcoming projects:


Promoting Stormwater Management Practices in Mahaska County

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Grant: $12,558

A bioretention cell, rain garden and rain barrel will be installed at the Mahaska County USDA Service Center by the Mahaska Soil and Water Conservation District. This site will demonstrate these practices to other businesses and homeowners in the City of Oskaloosa and Mahaska County.

Property Tax Changes

HF 718: Delivering Relief by Curbing Government Spending

This proposal provides property tax relief for landowners by curbing the budget growth of local governments without discouraging economic development. This is accomplished by lowering the growth rate used to determine spending and by consolidating, capping and recalculating certain levies. Those numbers will be lowered, delivering tax relief each year, using the formula below.

The bill lays the groundwork for how to responsibly deliver even bolder reform in the future. The growth rate reductions outlined below sunset after four years, which allows two rounds of assessments for the legislature to analyze the effects and then require legislators to act further.


For General Basic County Levy ($3.50)/Rural Basic County Levy ($3.95):

· If a county’s taxable valuation grows by 6% or more -> growth rate is reduced by 3% and the levy is recalculated

· If a county’s taxable valuation grows by 3 to 5.99% -> growth rate is reduced by 2% and the levy is recalculated

· If a county’s taxable valuation grows by less than 3% -> no recalculation

· Levies not impacted: Pioneer cemetery, debt service, EMS, LE, flood and erosion, natural disaster


For General Basic City Levy ($8.10):

· The cities follow the same growth rate reduction formula outlined above for counties.

· Consolidate 15 special levies into one new capped rate

· Levies not impacted: Municipal transit, aviation authority, insurance premiums, local emergency management, EMS, liability, debt service, IPERS, LE, police/fire retirement, agritcultural land

Providing More Direct Relief for Iowa Seniors and Veterans

This bill provides direct and immediate tax relief for seniors and military veterans. For all Iowans 65 and older, it creates a new exemption on top of existing tax credits. This exemption will amount to $3,250 for 2024 and $6,500 for 2025. It turns the current property tax credit for military veterans, which amounts to $1852, and transforms it into a larger credit to provide additional relief for Iowa veterans. This new Military Service Property Tax Exemption will total $4,000.

Increasing Transparency

This legislation requires tax bills to look more like an itemized receipt, showing where your money is going. Certain levies outside of the new consolidated capped rate can be increased if approved by the voters or voted upon by elected officials. This will increase transparency in levy increases. All elections for bonding must take place in November and require more notice to voters to ensure more Iowans are able to make their voices heard on if it is a good use of their money.

While this may make it more difficult to local entities to pass bonds, the bill also increases the threshold for all bond amounts that must go to the voters by 30%. This threshold has not been adjusted for inflation in 30 years.

HF 718 proposes a fundamental change to the way Iowa handles property taxes- we see this as a great step in the right direction. The bill is now headed to the Governor's desk, after being passed by the House, amended and passed by the Senate, and passed by the House again.

Updates to Youth Employment Laws

Senate File 542 – Updating Iowa Code on Youth Employment

SF 542 aims to update Iowa’s youth labor laws and expand opportunities for teenagers to work in Iowa. This section of code has not been updated in many years. Working a job or participating in a work-based learning program helps teenagers learn valuable life skills, save for the future, and explore possible career paths.

This bill makes very reasonable changes in Iowa law to allow more flexibility in work schedules and work activities for teenagers. Contrary to what opposing narratives state, this bill doesn’t force anyone to work anywhere.

A recent Des Moines Register poll asked parents of children under 18 if they approved of a bill to “relax child labor laws to allow teens to work in previously restricted jobs and work longer hours so long as they are part of an approved training program.” 57% of parents approve. Iowa code still has requirements for safety, and appropriate training and supervision baked into every work environment for the teen.

Will children be put in more harmful work situations because of this bill?

There has been quite a bit of misinformation about what changes are made in this bill. This bill eliminates needless regulations and adds common sense work activities to what a teenager can do on the job. Some examples: operating a microwave, doing laundry, or unloading groceries.

The bill does make some updates to the waivers Iowa Workforce Development can make to allow teenagers to perform additional work activities if it is through a work-based learning program. However, these waivers can only be granted if there is determined to be adequate supervision and training and safety precautions. It also must not interfere with the health, well-being, or schooling of the teen.

Does this bill allow teenagers to serve alcohol at bars?

No. The Iowa code already defines the difference between bars and restaurants and the new language in this youth opportunity bill only applies to restaurants. It simply allows 16 and 17-year-olds to carry an alcoholic drink to a customer's table at a restaurant with these provisions - if it is during the hours that the restaurant is serving food, there are at least two adults present to supervise and the employer has consent from the employee’s parents.

Will this overwork teenagers by forcing them to work late hours and longer shifts?

This bill allows employees under 16 to work until 9 pm during the school year and until 11 pm during the summer. The previous limit of 7 pm prevented many employers from hiring teenagers due to the timing of the dinner hour.

Highlights: Bills Signed into Law

I wanted to share some highlights of the legislation that has been passed and subsequently created new laws this session. The "signed into law" date does not necessarily reflect the date the law will become effective and enforceable: most have a delay period.

1 - Education Savings Accounts - signed into law 1/24 

This law establishes Education Savings Accounts in the state treasury for children whose parents opt in, and provides more funding for public schools by changing the way students in any particular district are counted for district enrollment. Also new in this legislation is increased flexibility for how school districts can spend their money. 

2 - Tort Reform- Medical Malpractice - signed into law 2/16 

This law limits the amount of noneconomic damages that can be awarded for a medical malpractice claim at $2 million if the incident happened at a hospital and $1 million if it happened somewhere else.

3 - Minor Transition Surgeries - signed into law 3/22

This law makes it illegal to perform a sex-change surgery or administer cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers to a minor in the state of Iowa.

4 - Bathroom Privacy Bill - signed into law 3/22 

This bill gives schools guidance on bathroom and locker room requirements. The bill states that people may not use a multiple occupancy bathroom or changing area that does not correspond to the sex on their birth certificate in K-12 schools. It specifies that this applies to any locker room or changing area for extracurricular activities and for overnight trips.

5 - Trucker Tort - headed to Governor’s desk 

This legislation proposes limits on the amount of noneconomic damages available against an owner or operator of a commercial motor vehicle to one million dollars. This would mean it limits the liability on a trucking company if the employee was acting within the scope of employment when the accident occurred.

6 - Parent Empowerment Bill - headed to Governor’s desk

This bill ensures all books in schools are age appropriate, meaning they cannot contain descriptions of a sex act. It also prohibits curriculum on gender identity or sexual orientation in K-6th grade and prevents schools from having policies that keep secrets from parents about their child’s gender identity. In addition, schools must get parental consent prior to giving surveys and must share who created and sponsored the survey as well as how the data is being used and stored.

Iowa's 10 Budgets

In last week's newsletter, I wrote about Iowa's budget process. Many of the budget bills have passed through committee and floor debate. Some of these bills had Senate companions (bills with identical language) that were passed through both chambers simultaneously. When a bill with a companion comes to the floor for debate, it can be substituted for its companion and passed that way, given that the companion has made it through the process in the other chamber. This eliminates the time it takes for a bill to "travel" in a linear fashion (from House subcommittee to floor and then start over again with Senate subcommittee, and so on.)

The state budget is broken up into 10 budget categories, and each is passed as its own separate bill. The budgets are:

Health & Human Services 

Economic Development 

Administration and Regulation 

Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure

Block Grant





Agriculture and Natural Resources 

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