Clock Runs Out on Iowa Legislature

posted on Thursday, May 9, 2013 in Blog

May Update from Professional Developers of Iowa Lobbiest

Friday, May 3rd was the 110th day of the 110-day 2013 legislative session. Pay for legislators officially stops after Friday. Any days spent doing legislative work after that are on their own dime.

This 16th week of the session has been the busiest in many ways as the final pieces of the legislative session are put into place. The goal of this past week for legislative leaders has been to move all remaining contentious issues – and there are a lot of them – into conference committees for further negotiation. Typically, legislation rarely advances to a conference committee, the format used when the House and Senate are not able to find compromise language through the typical amendment process. This year, they will have at least 9 bills in conference committee.

The beauty of the conference committee is that the final product that comes out is not amendable (unless it’s voted down, and then the process gets uglier). Each chamber will simply have a yes or no vote on each of the conference reports. In situations where the majority party in each chamber has a very small margin (like this year’s 26-24 in the Senate and 53-47 in the House), a small group of majority party members in a chamber could hold out for their own specific priorities. By using the conference committee process, they can bypass that possibility.


Currently in Conference Committee:

Education Reform, Property Tax Reform, Justice Appropriations,Economic Development Appropriations, Education Appropriations, Ag/Nat Res Appropriations, Admin/Reg Appropriations, Medicaid Expansion, Health Appropriations, Heading to Conference, Standing Appropriations, Infrastructure (RIIF) Appropriations.

Another benefit to using conference committees to enact legislation, and particularly the budget, is that a chamber cannot add a provision into a conference committee discussion that was not in either the House or the Senate’s bill. This year, the House and Senate each passed essentially their wish lists for each budget bill and will negotiate which portions of each bill to accept.

Unlike previous conference committees in previous sessions, this year’s conference committees will need to wait until the House, Senate and Governor can agree on an overall spending number for the next fiscal year. This will require first knowing whether property tax reform will advance to enactment or fall short like it has in so many sessions past, and whether or not Iowa will expand Medicaid or pursue a different option.

Once the legislative leadership and the Governor reach overall agreement, the conference committees will convene and each come to agreement on their individual bills. Then, at long last, the Legislature will adjourn sine die for the year.


IEDA Funding – Still In Jeopardy

As the Legislature officially starts the overtime period, it is absolutely critical that you don’t let up on your emails and phone calls. They are working! Whether final adjournment occurs this week (there IS a chance) or not for over a month, PDI members’ efforts to weigh in can greatly affect the outcome.

The Economic Development Budget is currently in conference committee. They will negotiate, among many other things, the IEDA Administration Budget and the IEDA Incentives Fund (which the House funded out of the Infrastructure Budget bill).

  • The Governor and the Senate provide roughly $18 million for IEDA Incentives and $16 million for IEDA Administration.
  • The House proposes $15.1 million for IEDA Incentives and $13.2 million for IEDA Administration.

In the days ahead, PDI members should CALL OR EMAIL legislators and ask them to support $18 Million for IEDA Incentives and $16 Million for IEDA Administration. Then, find 2 or 3 other people on your board, in your office or elsewhere in your work arena and ask them to email as well. If each legislator gets a handful of emails on this issue, it will make a HUGE difference. Do this TODAY!

A full update on all bills can be found using the BILL TRACKER