2019 Legislative Session - Week 3

Posted on Friday, February 1, 2019

Despite the blast of arctic air hitting Iowa Wednesday, lawmakers didn’t miss a day of work this week. So far, legislators have filed roughly 560 bills.  On average, at least 2,000 bills are introduced each session. 

As expected, the main order of business on Monday was the House debate on whether to seat Rep. Michael Bergan (R-Dorchester).  He won the House District 55 race in November against Democratic challenger Kayla Koether on a razor-thin margin of nine votes.  Koether disputed the result, noting that the Winneshiek County auditor disqualified 29 mail-in ballots due to lack of a postmark.  They did, however, have barcodes.  Whether they were the “intelligent barcodes” allowed by law in lieu of a postmark was an open question.  Ultimately, the GOP-led House voted to uphold the auditor’s decision and seat Bergan on a party-line vote.  Bergan himself abstained from voting.

A key piece of Governor Kim Reynolds’ agenda, restoring felon voting rights, advanced in the House.  HSB 68 would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to allow convicted felons to vote after serving their sentences.  Reynolds highlighted the issue in her Condition of the State address in January.  A similar bill in the Senate, SSB 1046, has not yet been heard by a subcommittee.  The House legislation will now move to the full Judiciary Committee for consideration.