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Government Relations Legislative Update - Week One

Capitol Update 

Iowa lawmakers returned to Des Moines on Monday to convene the second legislative session of the 90th General Assembly.  General Assemblies run in two-year cycles.  The second session is the shorter of the two, with the goal of sine die by April 16 this year.  Bills that were declared “dead” in the first session (2023) may be reassigned and reconsidered during the second session (2024). 

The first order of business was for Leaders to welcome members back to the Capitol and outline priorities for the session.  In opening speeches in both the House and the Senate, legislators expressed sorrow over the school shooting in Perry and appreciation for the quick actions of law enforcement. 

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver (R-Grimes) reflected on legislative initiatives over the past year that have improved the state and outlined Republican priorities to cut taxes, control spending, reform government and “let Iowans be great”.  Senate President Amy Sinclair (R-Allerton) said that Republicans have lowered taxes, empowered families and worked to restore individual liberties.  Senate Minority Leader Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque) gave opening remarks focusing on reproductive freedom, gun control and supporting Iowans. 

Across the chamber, Speaker Pat Grassley (R-New Hartford) emphasized the House Republicans' priorities to have a safe and secure Iowa, ensure a strong economy, government transparency and efficiency, address nursing home and hospital staffing shortages and improve education outcomes for Iowa’s students.  House Minority Leader, Jennifer Konfrst (D-Windsor Heights) talked about the House Democrats priorities emphasizing the theme of “People Over Politics”. 

Despite a snowstorm closing down much of the state on Tuesday, Governor Reynolds gave her seventh condition of the state address before a joint session of the Iowa Legislature.  The Governor began her address by reflecting on the “unthinkable” school shooting in Perry.  She reflected on the positive “state of the state” and the success of her education initiatives last year.  She then outlined her priorities for the 2024 legislative session. 

Education will again be a centerpiece.  Governor Reynolds proposed giving teachers a raise by increasing the existing minimum salary of $35,000 to $50,000 and establishing a minimum salary of $62,000 for teachers with 12 years of experience.  Among the other education priorities was reforming Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs).  The special education funding would move authority for spending from the AEAs to the public school district and allow the school to opt to continue working with the AEAs. 

The Governor then turned to Workforce priorities and Tax Reform.  She proposed enacting a flat income tax rate of 3.65% effective January 1, 2024 and reducing the income tax rate for 2025 to 3.5%.  Reynolds also proposed simplifying unemployment insurance by lowering the maximum tax rate from 7% to 5.4% and reducing the number of tax tables resulting in a savings of $500 million to employers over 5 years. 

Turning to healthcare issues in the state, the Governor proposed creating a new “Thrive Iowa” program to connect faith-based and nonprofit organizations to support Iowans in need.  The program will create a network of navigators to help at-risk individuals find immediate support from community organizations and help them develop a plan for self-sufficiency and long-term independence.  Reynolds proposed realigning the behavioral health system, investing opioid settlement dollars to establish a recovery infrastructure grant program and focus on youth substance use treatment.  The Governor proposed extending postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months, provide four weeks maternity leave for mothers and one week for fathers who are state employees, and remove barriers to access for over-the-counter contraceptives. 

Governor Reynolds proposed giving the Attorney General power to seek and enforce civil penalties against pornographic websites that do not have an age verification process, prohibit websites from retaining any identifiable information gathered through the verification process and create liability for damages. 

Further work on government accountability will be prioritized by implementing the recommendations of the Board and Commissions Review Committee and requiring a regular review process for administrative rules.  Two of the recommendations would require a three-fifths vote of the Legislature to create a new Board or Commission and eliminate the gender balance requirement for boards and commissions. 

Finally, Governor Reynolds proposed strengthening Iowa’s existing laws regarding foreign ownership of land.  The proposal requires additional information on mandatory reports to show complete ownership structures and a listing of landholdings in the United States, give the Attorney General powers to investigate suspected wrongdoing, increase financial penalties for failure to register with the Secretary of State or for falsifying information on registration or ongoing reports and requiring the Secretary of State to file an annual report with the Governor and the General Assembly on all records of foreign land ownership for new purchases and existing land holdings. 

In the Know  

Lawmakers who have passed agricultural trespass “ag gag” laws were vindicated on Monday when the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed two lower court rulings that had held the laws unconstitutional and issued injunctions blocking the laws.  The purpose of the laws were to protect animal confinement operations from animal welfare groups seeking to publicize the operations of confinement facilities and other animal operations.  The Governor issued a press release praising the Court of Appeals stating that “this is a win for both Iowans and the country…No longer will people be able to gain access or employment to agricultural production facilities with the intent to cause physical injury or economic harm.  We will always stand up for the security and safety of our farmers and their land.” 


Legislative Forums  

While many lawmakers hold forums in their districts year-round, it’s especially important for them to hear from constituents when they’re making decisions during the legislative session.  The events listed below are opportunities to get involved. You can also find these events on BrownWinick’s Iowa Political Events page.   






8:00 AM – 10:00 AM 

Sioux City Education Legislative Forum 

Sioux City Community Schools - Educational Service Center Board Room (627 4th Street, Sioux City, IA 51101) 


8:30 AM – 10:00 AM 

Windsor Heights Talk With Officials Forum 

Iowa Realty Office - Aisha R. Syed Board Room (2830 100th Street, Suite 110, Urbandale, IA 50322) and virtual via Zoom 


9:30 AM – 11:30 AM 

Iowa City Legislative Forum 

Iowa City Senior Center - Assembly Room (28 South Linn Street, Iowa City, IA 52240), live streamed & recorded on the LWVJC Facebook page and City Channel 4 


10:00 AM – 11:00 AM 

Carroll Legislative Forum 

Location is TBD at this time 


10:00 AM – 11:30 AM 

Sioux City Legislative Town Hall 

Sioux City Public Museum (607 4th Street, Sioux City, IA 51101) and live streamed on the LWV Facebook Page 


10:30 AM – 12:00 PM 

Urbandale Talk With Officials Forum 

Urbandale Chamber of Commerce Office (2830 100th Street, Suite 110, Urbandale, IA  50322) 



11:00 AM – 12:00 PM 

Webster City Political Forum 

Iowa Central Community College - Chelesvig Center, Room 106 (1725 Beach Street, Webster City, IA 50595) 




Key Dates — 2024 Iowa Legislative Session 





1/8: First day of session 

1/19: Final day for Senator and Representative bill requests 

2/16: First legislative funnel 

3/15: Second legislative funnel 

4/16: 100th calendar day of session (per diem expenses end) 


Scene on the Hill  


Your BrownWinick Team

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