Reynolds approves final bills from the 2023 Iowa legislative session
By Robin Opsahl, Iowa Capital Dispatch
Gov. Kim Reynolds signed 65 bills into law late Thursday afternoon, signed another into law with a line item veto and vetoed one bill entirely.
The flurry of signings marks the end of work on the 2023 legislative session, as Reynolds finished a day before the final deadline to sign measures passed in 2023. Reynolds’ stamp of approval on the dozens of bills is the final step in a productive year for Iowa Republicans: Laws already enacted from the 2023 session include Reynolds’ private school scholarship program to a ban on gender-affirming care for minors to Iowa’s child labor laws changes on hours and permitted fields.
Still, many high-profile bills remained unsigned before Thursday. That includes all of the budget bills passed allocating more than $8.5 billion of state spending — and accounts for government reorganization changes approved through Reynolds’ agency restructuring law signed in April.
Reynolds vetoes lone bill
The only bill the governor vetoed Thursday was Senate File 388, legislation that would have clarified the Office of Chief Information Officer is only required to follow federal guidance when allocating federal funds. The OCIO is responsible for bringing high-speed broadband to rural areas of the state.
Reynolds said she opposed the measure because it requires the office to only abide by the “often-lower standards defined by the federal government,” and because it limits flexibility to instead follow higher-speed standards set at a state level when using federal funds to create or improve broadband infrastructure in rural areas of the state.
Item veto drops consent for court-appointed attorneys
Reynolds also item-vetoed Section 8 in Senate File 563, the judicial branch spending bill. The provision required courts to obtain the consent of a non-contract attorney before appointing them to represent an indigent individual in court.
“All attorneys owe a duty to the legal profession to accept such an appointment if needed,” Reynolds wrote in the veto message to Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate. “And of course, this change creates the possibility that if no attorneys consent, indigent individuals will be left without legal representation. That possibility would truly bring about the crisis forewarned by some.”
The justice system budget also included a $2.6 million bump to raise pay and travel cost reimbursements for contract attorneys representing indigent defendants as the state looks to make up for its shortage of indigent defense attorneys.
While these payments increased, House Republicans were still dissatisfied with the $212.5 million judicial budget for failing to include the funds to hire four new district associate judges to work through the massive backlog of cases in Iowa’s system.
“It is what it is,” Rep. Brian Lohse, R-Bondurant said during floor debate. “We won what we could win. And we survive to live another day. We will continue to work and fight for the resources that the judicial branch needs in order to provide justice to Iowans.”
Here’s some of the other high-profile bills signed into law Thursday:
New law limits auditor’s access to information
Iowa Auditor of State Rob Sand said Senate File 478, legislation Reynolds signed Thursday, puts the state’s bond rating and billions in federal aid at risk.
“Governor Reynolds ignored a bipartisan group of oversight and accounting professionals opposed to the bill, as well as members of her own party who voted against it,” Sand said in a news release. “More importantly, she ignored Iowans who want to know how their tax dollars are spent.”
The law will limit the state auditor’s ability to access personal information, such as medical records or student grades, during investigations. If the state government entity disputes the need for the auditor’s office to access that information, the new law will have a board of arbitration decide whether the requested information is necessary to perform the audit.
This measure limits the office’s ability to file subpoenas, and Sand said it is unfairly weighted against him. Three members will sit on the board of arbitration: two members appointed by the involved parties, and a third member appointed by the governor.
Sen. Mike Bousselot, R-Ankeny, argued that there have been issues in the past with Sand invading Iowans’ privacy through audits. Sand, the only Democrat to hold an elected statewide office in Iowa after the 2022 midterm election, said the bill was politically motivated.
Former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker and the National State Auditors Association wrote letters to lawmakers during the session asking them not to pass the bill, as it may put federal funds at risk. But Bousselot said the changes will not inhibit the office’s ability to perform audits.
“The watchdog still has teeth,” Bousselot said. “It’s just making sure that those teeth aren’t getting sank into something they shouldn’t be in, which is Iowans’ most personal and private information information.”
State requires in-person caucuses
The governor also signed a measure requiring Iowa’s political parties to hold in-person caucuses for the presidential nominating process. The legislation, House File 716, was introduced after the Democratic National Committee kicked Iowa from its first-in-the-nation position, and the Iowa Democratic Party announced its plans to move to a mail-in caucus system.
Republican lawmakers said Iowa Democrats’ presidential preference card system would count as a primary under New Hampshire’s state law, and would trigger the Granite State’s law to hold the first primaries in the country. Iowa Democrats have vowed to hold their caucuses the same day as Republicans in 2024 — if New Hampshire decides to move its primaries ahead of Iowa Democrats, it would also move ahead of the Iowa Republican caucuses.
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann thanked Reynolds for signing the bill to keep the Iowa caucuses first and “cement Iowa’s commitment to the nearly half-century old agreement with the other carveout states.”
“Hopefully, today’s bill signing by the governor will mark an end to the Iowa Democrats pushing and then doubling down on an ill-advised, primary-in-all-but-name caucus proposal,” Kaufmann said in a news release. “The fate of middle Americans having a voice in selecting our next president depends on it.”
Iowa Democratic Party chair Rita Hart said in a news release Thursday that Republicans were meddling in Democrats’ party business. While Democrats and Republicans worked together for many years to preserve the Iowa caucuses, Hart said the legislation ends “decades of bipartisanship.”
“No political party can tell another political party how to conduct its party caucuses,” Hart said in a statement. “Iowa Democrats will do what’s best for Iowa, plain and simple.”
Hart said she was “not paying a lot of attention” to the legislation in early May, and said the party was committed to making the caucuses more accessible. She reiterated that promise after Reynolds signed the measure into law.
Other Democrats said the measure may violate the First Amendment by limiting Democrats’ freedom of assembly and ability to petition the government. Scott Brennan, an Iowan on the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, told reporters in May he expected the measure to be challenged in court if it became law.
New SNAP requirements, tests
Another measure, Senate File 494, puts new asset and income requirements on Iowans seeking public assistance through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program. Under the new law, Iowa households will have an asset limit of $15,000 to remain eligible for SNAP benefits, excluding the values of a car, home and $10,000 in value of a second household car.
The measure adds a new income restriction to accessing SNAP benefits, requiring that households earn 160% or less than the federal poverty level to qualify. Additionally, for SNAP as well as Medicaid and other public assistance programs, recipients will have to go through a new identity verification process online or by phone regularly to continue receiving assistance.
The Legislative Services Agency estimated more than 10,000 recipients — including 8,000 on Medicaid, 600 with Children’s Health Insurance and 2,800 receiving SNAP — would lose benefits not necessarily because they do not qualify for aid, but because their applications have discrepancies.
The changes are predicted to save nearly $8 million annually beginning in fiscal year 2027, but would cause a loss of $42 million in federal funding for public assistance programs. Matt Unger, CEO of Des Moines Area Religious Council’s (DMARC) coalition of 15 food pantries, called for Reynolds to reject the measure. The beginning days of April were among the busiest in the organization’s 50-year history, he said.
“This is typically the time of year where we’re at the bottom of our annual trend line,” Unger said.
While Reynolds approved the new requirements and limits on public assistance programs, she and the Iowa Economic Development Authority also announced their plans Wednesday to put $5 million toward food banks and food pantry networks in Iowa in a one-time allocation.
What Reynolds signed June 1
SF 478: A bill for an act relating to the operation of state government, including the commencement of audits, information made available to the auditor of state, and disputes between governmental agencies.
HF 466: A bill for an act relating to televised testimony in involuntary commitment hearings for persons with substance-related disorders and persons with mental illness.
HF 564: A bill for an act relating to access to criminal history data in child in need of assistance proceedings.
HF 216: A bill for an act relating to paternity in certain actions before the juvenile court.
HF 398: A bill for an act relating to adoption proceedings by providing for representation of adoptive parents and guardians ad litem by local public defenders for children in certain adoption proceedings and modifying filing requirements for adoption petitions and notice requirements for adoption hearings of adults.
HF 400: A bill for an act relating to the vacation of certain termination of parental rights orders.
HF 655: A bill for an act providing for business organizations, including limited liability companies, providing penalties, and including effective date provisions.
HF 432: A bill for an act relating to access by certain entities to specific records and documents maintained by a unit owners association.
HF 232: A bill for an act relating to probate proceedings, including fiduciary and trustee duties, and including applicability provisions.
HF 648: A bill for an act providing for the expungement of information regarding investment advisers and investment adviser representatives authorized to do business in this state.
HF 359: A bill for an act relating to the modification of a bridge order issued pursuant to a previous child in need of assistance case.
HF 719: A bill for an act relating to unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the rental of vehicles and making penalties applicable.
HF 603: A bill for an act relating to purchasing of tires from the state by certain volunteer emergency services providers.
HF 174: A bill for an act relating to the referral of a patient for diagnostic imaging by a physical therapist.
HF 602: A bill for an act relating to the inclusion of the crisis hotline telephone and text numbers and internet address for the your life Iowa program or successor program on public school student identification cards and including applicability provisions.
HF 93: A bill for an act prohibiting specified provisions in agreements between employers and certain mental health professionals and including effective date provisions.
HF 671: A bill for an act establishing the professional counselors licensure compact.
SF 494: A bill for an act relating to public assistance program oversight.
SF 478: A bill for an act relating to the operation of state government, including the commencement of audits, information made available to the auditor of state, and disputes between governmental agencies.
HF 425: A bill for an act relating to the release of custody of a newborn infant under the newborn safe haven Act.
HF 471: A bill for an act relating to mental health and disability services provided by the state and judicial procedures relating to child in need of assistance proceedings, adoptions, and the confinement of persons found incompetent to stand trial.
SF 517: A bill for an act relating to the addition of biological parent information of an adult adopted person through reestablishment of an original certificate of birth, and providing fees.
HF 708: A bill for an act relating to Medicaid reimbursement for services to individuals who meet the nursing home level of care and are required to register as sex offenders.
HF 685: A bill for an act relating to health care services and financing, including nursing facility licensing and financing and the Medicaid program including third-party recovery and taxation of Medicaid managed care organization premiums.
HF 397: A bill for an act relating to remote presence for purposes of notarial acts and executing wills and codicils, and including retroactive applicability provisions.
HF 716: A bill for an act relating to elections, including primary elections, political party caucuses, updates to the statewide voter registration system, and costs of preparing lists of voters.
HF 332: A bill for an act relating to the disposition of real property belonging to the state by the director of the department of administrative services.
HF 631: A bill for an act relating to the rights of peace officers and public safety and emergency personnel, Brady-Giglio list policy, and confidential information, and including effective date provisions.
HF 670: A bill for an act providing for veterinary medicine, including the care of animals under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian, providing penalties, and including effective date provisions.
HF 541: A bill for an act relating to the tax certification deadline for sanitary districts and including applicability provisions.
HF 666: A bill for an act providing for programs and regulations administered and enforced by the department of agriculture and land stewardship, providing fees, providing for the allocation of moneys, making penalties applicable, and including effective date provisions.
SF 528: A bill for an act relating to persons eligible to hunt with a crossbow.
HF 634: A bill for an act relating to persons certified to conduct time-of-transfer inspections of private sewage disposal systems, and providing penalties.
HF 357: A bill for an act relating to health care employment agencies, health care employment agency workers, and health care entities, providing for the use of annual registration fees, and including retroactive applicability provisions.
HF 265: A bill for an act relating to midwife licensure, providing for fees, and making penalties applicable.
HF 269: A bill for an act relating to allowable forms of payment for amusement concessions at an amusement park and an arcade and including effective date provisions.
SF 219: A bill for an act relating to educational requirements for a permit to perform tattooing.
SF 549: A bill for an act relating to captive insurance companies, and including applicability provisions.
HF 583: A bill for an act relating to the transfer of certain motor vehicles by operation of law, including associated odometer disclosure statements, and including retroactive applicability provisions.
SF 575: A bill for an act relating to the economic development authority, including renewable chemical production, workforce housing, and innovation fund tax credits, the Iowa wine, beer, and spirits promotion board, and the beer and liquor control fund, and including applicability provisions.
SF 565: A bill for an act relating to state and local finance and the administration of the tax and related laws by the department of revenue, and including effective date, applicability, and retroactive applicability provisions.
HF 111: A bill for an act relating to an exception to the real estate transfer tax for deeds that transfer distributions of assets to beneficiaries of a trust.
HF 617: A bill for an act relating to Iowa utilities board review of specified provisions and utility ratemaking procedures.
HF 247: A bill for an act relating to communication methods regarding the disposition of unclaimed property and including applicability provisions.
HF 258: A bill for an act relating to commercial driver’s licenses and commercial learner’s permits, including compliance with federal regulations, and making penalties applicable.
HF 270: A bill for an act relating to certain deadlines relating to the informal review and protest of property assessments in counties declared to be a disaster area or that are the subject of a disaster emergency proclamation.
HF 465: A bill for an act relating to the election of directors for county and state mutual insurance associations, and including effective date provisions.
HF 605: A bill for an act relating to energy benchmarking requirements for private properties.
HF 703: A bill for an act relating to the Hoover presidential library tax credit available against the individual and corporate income taxes, the franchise tax, the insurance premiums tax, and the moneys and credits tax.
HF 711: A bill for an act relating to levee and drainage districts, by providing for the repair or reconstruction of levees, making appropriations, and including effective date provisions.
HF 590: A bill for an act relating to moneys credited to the flood mitigation fund from fees collected for flying our colors registration plates.
HF 660: A bill for an act relating to sales tax rebates for a raceway facility and making tax provision corrections.
HF 677: A bill for an act relating to native winery and native brewery retail alcohol licenses.
HF 710: A bill for an act relating to the endow Iowa tax credit, making appropriations, and including retroactive applicability and effective date provisions.
HF 714: A bill for an act relating to construction projects transporting electricity and water and including retroactive applicability provisions.
HF 709: A bill for an act appropriating federal moneys made available from federal block grants and other nonstate sources following state government realignment, allocating portions of federal block grants, and providing procedures if federal moneys or federal block grants are more or less than anticipated, and including effective date and retroactive applicability provisions.
SF 557: A bill for an act relating to and making appropriations for state government administration and regulation, including the department of administrative services, auditor of state, ethics and campaign disclosure board, offices of governor and lieutenant governor, department of inspections, appeals, and licensing, department of insurance and financial services, department of management, Iowa public employees’ retirement system, public information board, department of revenue, secretary of state, treasurer of state, and Iowa utilities board, creating a licensing and regulation fund, and modifying provisions related to major procurement contracts for the Iowa lottery division of the department of revenue.
SF 558: A bill for an act relating to and making appropriations involving state government entities associated with agriculture, natural resources, and environmental protection.
SF 576: A bill for an act relating to transportation and other infrastructure-related appropriations to the department of transportation, including allocation and use of moneys from the road use tax fund and the primary road fund.
SF 560: A bill for an act relating to and making appropriations to the education system, including the funding and operation of the department for the blind, the department of education, and the state board of regents; requiring the state board of regents to conduct a study and prepare a report related to diversity, equity, and inclusion programs and efforts; providing for responsibilities of the workforce development board; establishing the Iowa workforce grant and incentive program; requiring the department of education to convene a task force to study issues related to programs for at-risk students and dropout prevention programs; modifying provisions related to the future ready Iowa skilled workforce grant program, the all Iowa opportunity scholarship program, the education savings account program, the gap tuition assistance program, the Iowa educational services for the blind and visually impaired program, career and technical education programs, the fine arts beginning teacher mentoring program, the equipment replacement and program-sharing property tax levy, and the posting of education-related job openings; and including effective date, applicability, and retroactive applicability provisions.
SF 561: A bill for an act relating to appropriations for veterans and health and human services and including other related provisions and appropriations including health policy oversight, public assistance program provisions and a public assistance modernization fund, sprinkler systems for home and community-based services waiver recipient residences, a state-funded family medicine obstetrics fellowship program and fund, adoption subsidy program nonrecurring adoption expenses, real estate transactions involving departmental institutions, providing penalties, and including effective date and other applicability date provisions.
SF 562: A bill for an act relating to and making appropriations to the justice system, including by providing for payments associated with indigent defense and representation, the funding of activities relating to consumer fraud and antitrust, a corrections capital reinvestment fund, an Iowa law enforcement academy study, a human trafficking study, and the funding of peace officer retirement, and including effective date and retroactive applicability provisions.
SF 578: A bill for an act relating to state finances, including by making, modifying, limiting, or reducing appropriations, distributions, or transfers, authorizing expenditure of certain unappropriated moneys, making corrections, and including effective date, applicability, and retroactive applicability provisions.
SF 559: A bill for an act relating to and making appropriations for the economic development of the state, including to the economic development authority, the Iowa finance authority, the public employment relations board, the department of workforce development, and the state board of regents and certain regents institutions, and modifying the housing renewal pilot program and provisions related to regional industry sector partnerships, the apprenticeship training program, and new jobs training agreements.
SF 577: A bill for an act relating to and making appropriations from the rebuild Iowa infrastructure fund and technology reinvestment fund, establishing a destination Iowa fund, providing for related matters, and including effective date provisions.
Source: Governor’s office news release
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