State Capitol Report 
Issue 1 |
February 4, 2018   
THANK YOU to all those who were able to join us for the This Is Iowa Legislative Showcase at the Iowa Fairgrounds!!
The revised open air format was a great success, and much preferred by the 50 House Representatives and 26 Senators who attended, all of whom seemed to stay longer than they did under the old format. The organizing committee will compile feedback from the event, compare notes, and chart a course for 2019. If you have thoughts about the event, feel free to email them to and we'll be sure they get passed along.
Legislative Session Update

Monday, February 5, marks Session Day 29 of the scheduled 100-day session. Four weeks down and ten to go before target adjournment.
Monday also marks caucus night across Iowa, so be sure to attend yours! The Legislature will not be working in Des Moines that day in order to enable legislators to attend their own caucuses. While this is not a presidential election year, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor's race will be on November's ballot along with all statewide elective offices (Attorney General, Auditor, Treasurer, Secretaries of State and of Agriculture), all four congressional races, the entire 100-member Iowa House, 25 seats of the 50-member Iowa Senate, and a number of local races.
First Funnel Coming
We are now two short weeks away from the first major deadline of the legislative session - the First Funnel on Friday, February 16, 2018. There are two "funnels" built into the Legislature's schedule every year that are essentially winnowing devices for eliminating any legislation that is not making forward progress. By the first funnel, any non-tax or spending bill must have been approved by the committee to which it was assigned or else it is dead for the year. There are still ways to advance a concept after the funnel deadline through amendment to another bill or leadership bills.
A byproduct of the coming first funnel deadline is that bills are being introduced at a furious pace right now. It is absolutely CRITICAL that you look through the bill list and keep checking it often to see if anything new pops up. The looming funnel deadline often means a subcommittee meeting may be scheduled on a bill right after the bill is introduced. In the days ahead, some bills will go from introduction to being voted out of committee within a number of hours.
FY 2018 De-Appropriations
While the coming funnel keeps the policy committees racing, the House, Senate and Governor continue to negotiate on the budget. Not the upcoming FY 2019 budget that begins July 1, 2018, but the current FY 2018. The Governor suggested a deappropriations package that totals around $27 million; the Senate has moved their version out of committee that cuts closer to $52 million. We are waiting to see what the House proposes. Whatever they end up with will need to be cut from the CURRENT FISCAL YEAR, which has less than five months remaining.
Why the big disparity between the Governor and the Senate's deappropriations bill? You may recall from last Fall that the fiscal year takes some time to close out. Fiscal Year 2017, despite ending at midnight on July 1, 2017, was not finalized until October 2017 due to the amount of time it takes to ensure receipts and expenditures made into and out of the State's multiple accounts gets recorded in the proper place. Senator Schneider, the Senate Appropriations Committee Chair, explained in committee that the Senate would like to cut enough from FY 2018 not just to balance the numbers, but to put 1/2 of one percent in the bank, just in case numbers continue to sour after the Legislature has left town for the year. Needing to return in October for a Special Legislative session to make transfers out of the State's emergency funds right before the November election is not ideal.
The Fiscal Year 2019 budget is expected to be equally contentious. However, work on that cannot really begin until after the March meeting of the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC), the date of which has not yet been set. The Legislature has to review the December 2017 estimate and the March 2018 estimate and then enact a budget that uses the lower of the two projected revenue numbers. We do not expect to see much about the FY 2019 budget until after those numbers are determined (other than the one percent - $32 million - increase for schools which was announced this week).
Legislative Alert - Tourism Funding
The single biggest issue of concern for TFI right now at the Capitol is how the deappropriations bill ends up treating tourism and economic development. We mentioned in the last Capitol Report that we heard very large cuts were coming.  Sure enough, the Senate version of the deappropriations bill ( SF 2117) contains some staggering cuts to tourism and economic development resources, and these are cuts that would need to occur between NOW and June 30, 2018. These cuts include the following:
  • $396,039 from the IEDA Administration budget. This budget was cut by over $1 million just last year (about 7.49 %), down to $13.4M. This cut would take this line item down to about $13 million going into the FY 2019 budget cycle.
  • $150,000 from Regional Tourism Marketing at IEDA. This budget was capped last year at $900,000 from its normal level of $1.1 to $1.3 million. This cut would take this line item down to $750,000 going into the FY 2019 budget cycle.
  • $7 million from the High Quality Jobs Program at IEDA, leaving $8.9 million (a cut of 44%).
  • $7 million from the Skilled Worker and Job Creation Fund to the State's General Fund.
Please take a moment to contact your legislators and let them know your thoughts 
To weigh in with Governor Reynolds, click HERE
To find out who your legislators are, click HERE
To find a list of the Senators, click HERE
To find a list of the Representatives, click HERE 
Tourism Industry Issues
School Start Date
In the last edition, we made you aware of two bills that were introduced to alter the school start date. SF 2063 would allow schools to start on the Wednesday before the 23rd if the 23rd falls on a Thursday or Friday. SF 2064 would change the law to allow school to start on whichever is earlier, August 23rd or the Monday after the State Fair. TFI is registered in opposition to both of these bills.
On January 23rd, Senators Lofgren, Rozenboom and Hogg held a subcommittee meeting to discuss both bills.  TFI spoke in opposition to both proposals.  Despite this effort, the three Senators decided to approve SF 2064 in subcommittee.  The Senate Education Committee must now take action on SF 2064 before the funnel deadline in order to keep the bill alive.  If you haven't already, reach out to legislators and tell them to the leave the school start law unchanged.   
DRAM Shop Insurance
Legislation to update Iowa's outdated DRAM Shop Insurance laws (SSB 1179 and HSB 594) is moving in both chambers.  This legislation was introduced by legislators at the request of the Iowa Restaurant Association and is being supported by TFI.  If you want more information about the issue, the Iowa Restaurant Association has a toolkit with information about the issue HERE.  During the subcommittee meetings on these bills, the Iowa Insurance Commissioner shared some information about Iowa's DRAM Shop rates that can be viewed HERE.     
Bills Being Tracked for TFI
This is a list of the bills being tracked for TFI.  The online bill list is updated constantly, just go to 

Summary | Details
House Natural Resources Committee

Reallocates REAP funding.
Nonreversion/Reallocation of State Funds
Summary | Details
House Appropriations Committee

Allows state agencies to keep up to 10% of the funds appropriated that are unencumbered or unobligated at the close of the fiscal year (funds won't revert).
Sales Tax Collection
Summary | Details
House Ways & Means Committee

Amends definition of "retailer maintaining a place of business in this state" for the collection of sales tax from out-of-state retailers.
Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact
Summary | Details
House Transportation Committee

Establishes the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact.
Hotel/Motel Tax Exemption
Summary | Details
House Floor

Extends the length of a room rental to qualify for the state and local hotel/motel taxes from 31 consecutive days to 90 or more consecutive days.
Transgender Access to Public Facilities
Summary | Details
House Judiciary Committee

Provides that educational institutions are not required to allow access to toilet facilities, locker rooms, or living facilities designated for use by persons of one sex to a person of the other sex.
Turkey and Deer Hunting Licenses
Summary | Details
House Natural Resources Committee

Allows a farm owner, tenant, or family member of the farm owner or tenant to use the turkey or deer hunting licenses issued without fee during any bow or firearm season.
Fishing on Private Lakes and Ponds
Summary | Details
House Natural Resources Committee

Allows a person to fish on a private lake or pond without a license.
The WISE Solution for Water Quality
Summary | Details
House Ways & Means Committee

A permanent $180-200 million/year that flows into the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, at least 60% of which would have to be used for specific water quality.
Sports Betting
Summary | Details
House State Government Committee

Authorizes gambling licensees to conduct sports betting.
School Calendar Start Date
Summary | Details
Senate Education Committee

Allows a school district or accredited nonpublic school to start its school calendar on the Wednesday before August 23 if August 23 falls on a Thursday or Friday.
School Start Date
Summary | Details
Senate Education Committee

Makes the earliest school start date August 23 or the Monday following the closing day of the annual Iowa state fair, whichever occurs earlier.
Forest Reservation Property Tax Exemption
Summary | Details
Senate Ways & Means Committee

Lowers the property tax exemption for forest reservations.
Raceway Facility Construction Sales Tax Rebate
Summary | Details
Senate Ways & Means Committee

Makes changes to sales tax rebates for construction at certain raceway facilities.
State General Fund Expenditure Limitation
Summary | Details
Senate Appropriations Committee

Revises calculations for the general fund expenditure limitation, increases reserve fund balances, creates a safety net fund, creates an Iowa personal income tax rate reduction fund, and provides for related state personal income tax rate reductions.
FY18 Deappropriation
Summary | Details
Senate Floor

Cuts the current fiscal year (FY18) budget by $50.1 million, about $20 million more than the Governors' recommendation.  Cuts regional tourism marketing, skilled worker and job creation fund, hawk-i, autism support program fund, Regents universities, community colleges, vocational rehabilitation, autism support program, human services,
Agriculture and Natural Resources Programs
Summary | Details
Senate Ways & Means Committee

Amends several agriculture and natural resources programs.
Water Quality/Wastewater Treatment
Summary | Details

Modifies existing wastewater treatment program, establishes new water quality programs, and creates a water service excise tax and sales tax exemption.
DRAM Shop Revision
Summary | Details
Senate Floor

Limits the liability of an alcoholic beverage licensee or permittee for certain alcohol-related injuries.
State Park Fees
Summary | Details
Senate Ways & Means Committee

Allows DNR to establish fees for camping and rental facilities at state parks and recreation areas.
Vessel Registration and Title
Summary | Details
Senate Natural Resources & Environment Committee

Modifies provisions relating to the registration and titling of vessels.
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