|This year, the General Assembly was scheduled to meet for 110 days. We hit that last Friday which means our clerks and pages have gone home for the year and we no longer receive per diem to cover our travel costs. This deadline helps encourage us to wrap things up in a reasonable time. This week we passed the various budget bills and a few remaining policies that had yet to be sent to the Governor. |
Week 17 Highlights
Monday saw the house run 23 bills most of which were bouncers from the Senate that had been amended and sent back to us. 3 bills that highlighted the day were HF604 the teacher empowerment bill which supports teachers in the classroom, HF135 the Student Right To Know bill which demand University students be provided with pertinent degree information which includes income, debt, etc, and HF715 the Caucus Integrity bill that spells out the requirement for how the Iowa Caucus’s be held, requiring in person participation (no mail in balloting) and allowing the parties to decide on rules for participation, precincts, and voter registration requirements. Of the 23 bills passed, all but HF715 were bipartisan with strong support from both parties. Tuesday saw the start of the process of running the different budgets bills:
SF561– 2024 Health and Human Services Budget: The largest of the budgets appropriates $2.124 Billion from the general fund which is an increase of $26.48 million and provides needed increases for mental health, Medicaid, and nursing homes reimbursements.
SF576– 2024 Transportation Budget: This budget includes $58+ million from the Road Use Tax Fund and $387+ million from the Primary Road Fund for a total appropriation of $446,538,649 to the DOT.
SF557– 2024 Administration and Regulation Budget: This budget appropriates $70,538,208 general fund dollars for 11 different government agencies including the Governors Office, Sec. of State, Treasurer of State, and the Auditor of State to name a few.
SF558– 2024 IDALS, DNR, EFF Budget: This budget appropriates $43,544,227 from the general fund which reflects a $1.6 million increase. We also passed 2 major bills: HF647 the Youth Employment bill and HF718 the Property Tax Reform bill. – Updating Iowa Code on Youth Employment SF542
- SF 542 updates Iowa’s youth labor laws and expands opportunities for teenagers to work in Iowa. This section of code has not been updated in many years.
- Working a job or participating in a work-based learning program helps teenagers learn valuable life skills, save for the future, and explore possible career paths.
- This bill makes very reasonable changes in Iowa law to allow more flexibility in work schedules and work activities for teenagers. Remember, this bill doesn’t force anyone to work anywhere.
- Iowa code still has requirements for safety, and appropriate training and supervision baked into every work environment for the teen.
HF718 as amended by the Senate is an agreed to compromise piece of legislation dealing with the start of property tax reform. Passed the House 93-1 and the Senate 48-0.
Property Tax Reform Compromise
Delivering Relief by Curbing Government Spending
- This proposal provides property tax relief for landowners by curbing the budget growth of local governments without discouraging economic development.
- It does this by lowering the growth rate used to determine spending and by consolidating, capping and recalculating certain levies. Those numbers will be lowered, delivering tax relief each year, using the formula below.
- This bill lays the groundwork for how to responsibly deliver even bolder reform in the future. The growth rate reductions outlined below sunset after four years, which allows two rounds of assessments for the legislature to analyze the effects and then require legislators to act further.
For General Basic County Levy ($3.50)/Rural Basic County Levy ($3.95):
- If a county’s taxable valuation grows by 6% or more -> growth rate is reduced by 3% and the levy is recalculated
- If a county’s taxable valuation grows by 3 to 5.99% -> growth rate is reduced by 2% and the levy is recalculated
- If a county’s taxable valuation grows by less than 3% -> no recalculation
- Levies not impacted: Pioneer cemetery, debt service, EMS, LE, flood and erosion, natural disaster
For General Basic City Levy ($8.10):
- The cities follow the same growth rate reduction formula outlined above for counties.
- Consolidate 15 special levies into one new capped rate
- Levies not impacted: Municipal transit, aviation authority, insurance premiums, local emergency management, EMS, liability, debt service, IPERS, LE, police/fire retirement, ag land
Providing More Direct Relief for Iowa Seniors and Veterans
- This bill provides direct and immediate tax relief for seniors and military veterans.
- For all Iowans 65 and older, it creates a new exemption on top of existing tax credits. This exemption will amount to $3,250 for 2024 and $6,500 for 2025.
- It turns the current property tax credit for military veterans, which amounts to $1852, and transforms it into a larger credit to provide additional relief for Iowa veterans. This new Military Service Property Tax Exemption will total $4,000.
- Increases transparency by requiring tax bills to look more like an itemized receipt, showing where your money is going.
- Certain levies outside of the new consolidated capped rate can be increased if approved by the voters or voted upon by elected officials. This will increase transparency in levy increases.
- All elections for bonding must take place in November and require more notice to voters to ensure more Iowans are able to make their voices heard if it is a good use of their money.
Wednesday was another day full of bills returned by the Senate (8) and budget bills (4):
- While this may make it more difficult to local entities to pass bonds, the bill also increases the threshold for all bond amounts that must go to the voters by 30%. This threshold has not been adjusted for inflation in 30 years.
Bouncers were HF707, HF708, HF711, HF270, HF430, HF666, HF232, and HF265.
SF578: Standings Budget funds many levels of government to the tune of $4,372,330,778.
SF563: Judicial Branch Budget Appropriates $3,000,000 for the Judicial branch and $250,000 for the Indigent Defense Fund.
SF562: Justice System Budget Appropriates monies for 7 different departments including the Attorney General, Dept. of Corrections, and Dept. of Public Safety.
SF560: Education Budget Reflects the General Fund dollars for the Dept. of the Blind, the Dept. of Education, Community Colleges, Iowa Public Television, the Board of Regents and many other budgets. Total budget dollars exceed $982 Billion. Thursday brought an end to the 2023 Legislative Session we passed 2 Senate bouncers, HF 660 and HF710, and we finalized the budget process passing the final 2 budgets.
SF559: Economic Development Budget Appropriates $41.8 million from the General Fund and $34.4 million from other sources.
SF557: Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund Budget Appropriates $255,775,796 to be spend on infrastructure projects including $6M for Honey Creek Resort, $18M for Veterinary Diagnostic Lab Phase II, $10M for Commercial Service Air Grant program,$6M to the Iowa State Fair for barn restoration, $20M for DAS major maintenance, and $42M for DOM Environment First Fund to name a few.
Shortly after noon Thursday, the Legislature adjourned for the year. This final adjournment of the Legislative Session is known as Sine Die, which means “without any future date being designated”. This gives us the opportunity to spend time in our district and hear the concerns of constituents. Next year, we will return to the Capitol in January where we will continue our work. If you have any questions or concerns during the interim, don’t hesitate to reach out and have a wonderful year.