Friday, March 6 was the first “funnel” deadline at the legislature. With exceptions, bills have been voted out of committee by that date to be considered during the rest of the session.

An Education Savings Account bill, House Study Bill 203, did not come up for a vote in the House Education Committee. The chair of the committee chose not to bring it up because of budget concerns. The bill would have provided for Education Savings Accounts starting with kindergarten the first year and adding a grade year by year.

However, that doesn’t mean the issue itself is dead for the session. We remain optimistic that there will be legislation to assist nonpublic school parents and students. You did a great job of contacting legislators on the issue. In fact, thousands of people took action! This response that will serve us well as the session continues. Stay tuned for future alerts.

A few positive notes from last week:

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee passed SF 312, which would require the state to conduct outreach programs to help the public recognize and report incidents of human trafficking, as well as require training for law enforcement. The refugee family services support bill, SF 369, also passed the Senate Human Resources Committee. Sen. Janet Petersen (D-Des Moines) has been a key supporter of these two bills.
  • The House Human Resources Committee passed HF 58, which requires an ultrasound be performed before an abortion.
  • The payday lending reform bill, HSB 138, advanced out of the House Commerce Committee on Thursday. We appreciate that Rep. Peter Cownie (R-West Des Moines) brought the bill up for a vote. However, there was an amendment added to the bill that was not available to the public at the meeting, so we will have to carefully review it this week.
  • SF 375 passed the Senate State Government Committee. It helps employees to be able to take equivalent time off for after an adoption as following the birth of a child.
  • The Senate Human Resources Committee approved SF 411. It creates a disaster case management grant program with no new appropriation.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee amended SF 107 to remove a retroactive “window” for civil suits regarding sexual abuse of a minor that would have allowed any lawsuit to come forward for a period of three years, even if previously time-barred. The bill extends the period of time someone can bring a civil suit after being sexually abused as a minor to 25 years.
  • Bills to reinstate the death penalty and provide for doctor-assisted suicide did not advance.

A priority in the near term will be asking House members to advance the minimum wage increase bill (SF 269) that previously passed the Senate.

On the negative side:

  • Unfortunately Senate File 362 did not make the funnel deadline, but we appreciate Sen. Charles Schneider (R-West Des Moines) for introducing the bill. All 24 Republican members of the Senate co-sponsored the bill along with one Democrat. It would allow a mother to file a lawsuit against someone who wrongfully caused the death of her unborn child (e.g. such as a drunk driver). Iowa is one of about 10 states where this is not possible.
  • A bill to provide the possibility of a driver’s license for undocumented immigrants did not advance.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill regarding sentencing for juveniles. However, the bill still includes the option of a life sentence without the possibility of parole, which we oppose.

AND FINALLY,

Please keep up on our Action Center for future action alerts. Currently there are sample messages to legislators on three issues: increase in minimum wage, ultrasound before abortion, and refugee services.

Make sure you check out our Facebook page for photos of last week’s Education Celebration. Even with the bad weather causing cancelled trips, the rally drew hundreds of school choice supporters to the capitol. Mark your calendars for March 1, 2016.