2019 Legislative Session - Week 13

Posted on Friday, April 12, 2019

House and Senate Republicans are continuing to hash-out next year’s budget (FY20), but have yet to agree on the final figures.  Those so-called “joint budget targets” lay out how much both chambers are willing to spend on big-ticket appropriations, like education, economic development, and health and human services.  In the absence of joint targets, the House and Senate are passing these bills and sending them to the opposite chamber, where they will likely be amended and returned to their originating chamber for further debate.  There are 11 major appropriations bills in all.  Once signed by the governor, they will take effect at the start of the new fiscal year beginning July 1.

The Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals spending measure, SF 600, is the furthest along.  It passed the House last week, and cleared the Senate Thursday.  Now it’s up to Governor Kim Reynolds to sign the entire package into law, or to exercise her line-item veto on certain expenditures. The Agriculture and Natural Resources bill, SF 609, is also moving rapidly.  It passed the Senate Monday, and House committee on Thursday. Once it clears the full House, it too will land on the governor’s desk. Five other spending measures have passed either the House or Senate.  Most others have cleared committee. 

Only one budget bill remains to be introduced, Standing Appropriations, or “Standings.”  Standings is the last legislation passed before session adjourns, and it serves two main functions.  First, it allows the legislature to put money toward other priorities that weren’t already covered in previous appropriations bills. And second, it’s a last chance to address new policy issues or pass previously introduced legislation that died earlier in the session, by tacking it onto Standings.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are working out how to tackle large-scale flood relief for more than half of Iowa’s counties. Governor Reynolds said this week that the state will likely need to free up matching funds to pair with federal assistance. She also said the Army Corps of Engineers will cover initial levee repairs.  GOP legislators in both chambers are working with Reynolds on a final relief package. On Tuesday, Democrats released a $50 million flood relief proposal.  So far, 57 Iowa counties are under a presidential disaster declaration.  Southwestern Iowa suffered some of the most severe damage.