The Legislature’s first funnel was this week, which means our focus has been narrowed to bills that have a better chance of being debated on the floor and signed into law.
What is the funnel? It’s a deadline when House bills are required to pass at least one House committee to remain eligible for discussion and vice versa for the Senate. If a bill fails to advance through a committee, it is considered “dead” for the session and is tabled. Oftentimes, a bill is not moved forward because it lacks support or needs improvement over the interim. The funnel does not apply to Appropriations or Ways & Means bills.
Several priorities of the House Republicans remain alive following the first funnel including:
Child Care Access and Affordability. (House Files 2041, 2083, 2171, 2175, 2270, 2271, and 2424)
House Republicans have introduced a wide-ranging package of legislation this session to improve access to affordable childcare for families. Several committees have advanced common sense solutions to make child care more affordable for families, increase access to providers, incentivize employers to offer and expand child care to their employees, and address the “cliff effect” by easing Iowans off of government child care assistance programs. House Republicans are also continuing to work with the Senate to expand eligibility of the childcare tax credit program by doubling the household income threshold.
Access to Affordable Health Care (House Files 2192, 2197, 2253, 2383, 2463 and House Study Bill 685)
House Republicans have also been looking for ways increase access to high quality and affordable health care. Committees have advanced several pieces of legislation that provide more transparency and reduce the cost of prescription drugs, increase access to health services, and attract and retain more health care professionals to our state. House Republicans are also continuing to make progress on the mental health reforms that were passed in previous sessions. House Republicans will always work to ensure that Iowans are able to access critical mental health services near their homes, loved ones, and communities.
Rural Emergency Medical Services (House Files 2224, 2280, and 2434)
One of the most basic functions of government is ensuring citizens have the ability to call for help when its necessary. This includes police and fire, but often forgotten are Emergency Medical Services (EMS) like paramedics, EMTs, and first responders. House Republicans are committed to assisting local governments offer these services to their residents. Legislation passed through committee this year gives counties the ability to make long-term investment in EMS programs and infrastructure while also proposing additional funding to local EMS. Additionally, with many towns relying on volunteer fire and EMS departments, House Republicans want to ensure that small communities are able to attract qualified individuals. That’s why we are working to double the volunteer EMS tax credit and show our support to individuals who put their lives on the line to protect us and keep us safe when it counts most.
Expanding High-Speed Internet to Underserved Areas (House Files 2023, 2107, 2213, 2242, and 2459)
House Republicans have also made the expansion of high-speed broadband to underserved parts of the state a top priority this session. Reliable internet has become a necessity in today’s economy and both employers and workers are depending on a steady connection to conduct business online or work from home. To help expediate this expansion, the Commerce committee has passed multiple bills to improve internet access and bring faster speeds to Iowa’s rural communities. House Republicans are continuing to work closely with stakeholders to find solutions and help spur broadband development to each corner of Iowa.
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— Representative Tom Jeneary